The Math Placement Exam
If a student wants to take a Math course and does not have the appropriate prerequisite courses on their transcript, the student will need to take the Math Placement Exam. This applies to entering freshmen, transfer students, and also current UO students.
The Math Placement Exam is done via an online system called ALEKS that is designed to support student success. Students take the exam at a time and location of their choosing (for example, they can take it at home), and it requires about an hour. If a student does not get the placement score they desire on the first try, the ALEKS system will identify specific topics the student needs to review and will provide them online videos and practice problems to help with that. A student has the opportunity to take the placement exam up to five times.
Sometimes we hear from students who are convinced they have the appropriate background knowledge for a course but do not want to take the placement exam, instead asking for a special exemption from this requirement. In some instances this might be merited, and the student can make an appointment with a Math Advisor to discuss the matter (see this contact information for our current advisors). However, in 99% of cases exemptions will not be granted and students will be required to take the placement exam. If a student attempts the placement exam the full five times and still has not scored at the level they desire, at that point they can talk to an advisor about what is going wrong and possible solutions. But we find that most students can score at the level that is right for them if they take advantage of the learning opportunities the ALEKS system provides.
Why do we require the placement exam?
The goal of UO and the Mathematics Department is to give students the best opportunity possible to achieve success in our courses. Taking the placement exam and identifying the correct course from the beginning puts students in a better position than enrolling in a course where they do not have the prerequisite knowledge, ultimately failing, and then being back in the same position after the expenditure of time and money. In addition to this, it is better for students to be going through the review process before the class starts than to be going through it on their own while the class is happening, and the ALEKS learning materials aid in this. Students have the best chance for success when they show up prepared on day one.
Complete and detailed information about the Math Placement Exam can be found at the Testing Center’s website here.