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Department of Mathematics

Math Placement

All first-time undergraduate freshmen and transfer students entering the College receive a Math Placement Level (MPL) as part of the admissions process. The MPL is determined by previously taken mathematics courses and standardized test scores including New York State Regents exams and SAT/ACT exams. College courses express math prerequisites in terms of the MPL. Students will be notified of the assigned MPL at their Freshman or Transfer Orientation session. Students can raise their MPL by successfully completing specific math courses or by taking optional Mathematics Placement Exams. Starting with the summer of 2015, SUNY New Paltz will be using the web-based ALEKS assessment and learning system for the optional placement exams.

If a student is satisfied with the assigned MPL they do not need to take an exam. If the student chooses to use the ALEKS PPL the cost will be $25.

* What is ALEKS PPL?

Assessment and LEarning in KnowledgeSpaces (ALEKS) is a powerful artificial-intelligence based assessment tool that zeroes in on the strengths and weaknesses of a student's mathematical knowledge, reports its findings to the student, and if necessary provides the student with a learning environment for bringing this knowledge up to an appropriate level for course placement. The ALEKS Placement Assessment covers material from Basic Math through Precalculus. After the assessment, a targeted Prep and Learning Module is available for you to review and learn material, and to improve placement and eventual course outcomes. You will have access to the Prep and Learning Module for 6 months.

First of all, RELAX. This is an “assessment,” designed to determine what you know. At the end of the ALEKS Placement Assessment, you will have a much better sense of your strengths and weaknesses in math. You will then have a chance to work on those weaknesses. There is really no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the assessment. The most important thing is that you take the assessment seriously and give it an honest effort so that the assessment truly reflects your level of knowledge and math preparedness.
Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – your only reward will be that you are forced to take a class that is too difficult for your current level of mathematical knowledge. Therefore, while you are taking the assessment, do not consult any other source for help (friends, family, internet searches, etc.). The purpose of the placement assessment is to give an accurate measure of your current mathematical skills so that you will be successful in your mathematics courses.

Students can take the initial ALEKS PPL assessment at home or at any personal computer with internet access and can work with the Preparation and Learning Module on their own and retake the assessment 1 more time at home, the final assessment will be a proctored exam scheduled prior to the first day of classes. (see schedule for proctored ALEKS Assessment below, students will need to pre-register for a specific time slot). Your final Math Placement Level (MPL) will be determined by the results on the proctored exam.

* Frequently Asked Questions about ALEKS (FAQs)

How do I begin using ALEKS? 

  1. Review this entire FAQ page.
  2. Be sure you have paper, pencil, and two hours free
  3. After July 6, log in to and click on the ALEKS link to create an account and take the placement assessment. You will be charged $25 at this time, you will need to have a credit or debit card at that time. 

Who has to take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment?

For the academic year 2015-16 the ALEKS Assessment is optional, students choose to take it if they want to try to raise the Math Placement Level that was initially assigned.

What is the deadline for taking the ALEKS assessment?

You must complete the initial unproctored assessment by August 5, 2015

Is there a fee for using ALEKS?

Yes, it will cost $25, this covers 2 unproctored tests and the proctored exam and 6 months of use of the Preparation and Learning Module. The fee will be charged at the time you create your account. You will need a credit card or debit card at that time.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

Yes, you may take the test a total of two times in an unproctored setting and then 1 more time in the proctored setting. However, to make each attempt worthwhile, it is important that you spend time working in your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module in between placement assessments so that you can improve your skills.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment immediately?

You must wait 48 hours between placement assessments. There is generally no benefit to re-taking the assessment immediately after completing a prior attempt. Unlike the SAT or ACT, you cannot improve your results by simply re-taking the assessment without spending time in the Prep and Learning Module to refresh material that you may have forgotten or to learn new material.

Must I work in my ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between placement assessments?

Yes, you are required to work in the placement modules a minimum of three hours between assessments. 

Are placement assessments timed?

Yes, you have 48 hours to complete an unproctored placement assessment once it has begun. The proctored assessment allows a maximum of 2 hours.

How long will a placement assessment take to complete?

Placement assessments require approximately 90 minutes to complete, but the amount of time will vary by student. There will be a maximum of 30 questions.

May I use a calculator while using ALEKS?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator.

What happens if I do not complete a placement assessment in the allotted time?

You will have to restart the assessment.

May I use any other resources during a placement assessment?

You may only use a pen or pencil, paper, and the resources provided by ALEKS. You may not receive assistance from friends, family, other websites, textbooks, or any other resource not provided by ALEKS. Using outside resources may lead to improper placement and ultimately course failure. (Refer to the SUNY New Paltz Policy on Academic Integrity

How does ALEKS interpret the answer “I don’t know”?

Students may be asked questions on material that is unfamiliar. On such questions, the student should answer, “I don’t know." But for any question that is even slightly familiar to the student, it is important to attempt to answer. “I don’t know” is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that the student has no knowledge of the topic, and this will be reflected in the assessment results. If the student’s best effort is not given, then ALEKS will underestimate their knowledge.

Interpreting Test Results From ALEKS

Immediately after completing the ALEKS assessment, you will be shown a pie chart that indicates your percentage score on the ALEKS assessment.
What math course am I eligible to take?

The chart below shows what math courses you are eligible to take. You can take a course with a lower prerequisite score. It is important that you consult with your advisor to choose a course that is appropriate for your intended major.
(please note: other departments also use MPLs as prerequisites for some of their courses)



Math Courses you are eligible to take:

0 - 45


MAT 053 (recommended if going on in Math, Science, Engineering, Business)
MAT 151 (recommended if going on in Liberal Arts or Fine Arts)

46 - 60


MAT 152 (only if you are going on in Math, Science, Engineering, Business)
MAT 140 (For Elementary Ed program)
MAT 182, MAT 183, MAT 184, MAT 185, MAT 186  (for fine or liberal arts majors)

61 -79


MAT 171 (for Business majors only)
MAT 181
MAT 241

80 – 100


MAT 251
MAT 260


Can I practice using ALEKS before I begin placement?

ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial before your placement begins.

How long do I have access to my Prep and Learning Module?

You will have six months of access from the time that you start using your Prep and Learning module.

Is there an additional fee for my Prep and Learning Module?

Access to a Prep and Learning Module is included along with up to three placement assessments.

What are ALEKS Progress Assessments?

While working in a Prep and Learning Module, you will periodically complete progress assessments to solidify your gains in knowledge. These assessments will not affect your assigned MPL.

Does progress in an ALEKS Prep and Learning Module count toward placement?

No, you must complete a new placement assessment to change your placement result. Click on the placement tab on the upper right of the page from within ALEKS. Only your proctored placement assessment results will be used for course placement.

Can I change to a different Prep and Learning Module later?

No, you may only use the Prep and Learning Module recommended by ALEKS.

What if I do not place into the course I wanted?

You can use a Prep and Learning Module to review and learn, and you may take another placement assessment to improve your placement result.

I did not place into the class I wanted. Can I take it anyway?

No, you must achieve the minimum placement result to take each corresponding class.

What if I placed into the class I wanted?

Congratulations! Continue to use your Prep and Learning Module to improve your chances for success. Take advantage of the targeted review and learning features in ALEKS to get a better grade in your class.

Where can I get help with ALEKS?

Now that I have reviewed all the information about my math placement exam, how do I access it?

*To sign up to take ALEKS:

After July 6, 2015 Students may access the ALEKS Placement Test through

If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your ability to successfully complete any exam, please contact Disability Resource Center at

If you have questions about math placement at New Paltz you can contact the Math Placement Coordinator at

* To register to take the proctored exam:

Schedule for Proctored ALEKS Exams for summer 2015

Proctored exams will be held: 

Saturday August 22 - 10 am
Saturday August 22 - 2 pm
Sunday  August 23 - 10 am
Sunday  August 23 - 2 pm

To register to take a proctored test you must send an email with your full name, BANNER Number, and your preference for the scheduled time to: You will receive a confirmation email which will give instructions. You should print out the confirmation and bring to the exam.


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