Academics

Math

UMass Boston requires an ALEKS assessment of all incoming first year, transfer and non-degree students who have not met their college’s math requirement or want to enroll in any math course through Calculus I.  In most cases, ALEKS can be taken off-campus or anywhere you have internet access.

ALEKS:    Placement, Preparation & Learning

ALEKS is an online, adaptive math assessment which is accessible through the WISER Student Center page.  Select "ALEKS Math Placement PPL" from the Quick Links drop down menu.  For the ALEKS link to open, you must disable your pop-up blocker. 

 

ALEKS is more than a traditional math test because it offers a built-in, personalized Preparation and Learning module to help you improve your math skills.

The ALEKS Placement Assessment consists of thirty questions covering material from Basic Math through Pre-calculus.   Each assessment is open for 24 hours but will take approximately two hours to complete.  After the initial assessment, you will receive a score, which will be uploaded to Wiser and used for placement purposes.  In addition to the score, you will receive a detailed progress report of your strengths and weaknesses in the form of a pie chart, and the opportunity to access a six month personalized Preparation and Learning module and retest if necessary. The module will help you to strengthen your skills and possibly help you to receive a higher placement.  It will also better prepare you for success in your upcoming math class.   See FAQs # 10 & 12 for more information.   Your Academic Advisor will have access to your ALEKS score and can help you decide what class to take or whether you should retest.

If you are a Bachelor of Arts (BA) student, you have the opportunity to receive a waiver of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement for your degree, provided that you earn an ALEKS score of 59% or higher.  Credit is not awarded, but a waiver notation will be posted on your degree progress report. You will, however, need to test in the UMass Boston Testing Center under proctored conditions.  Please call 617-287-5522 to schedule an appointment. 

Please understand UMass Boston’s academic honesty regulations.  For ALEKS to be effective, you must do the exam on your own without notes, books, or help from others.  ALEKS is not a traditional exam.  Instead, it’s a tool to help you place into an appropriate  course for which you have the best chance to succeed.   Any outside assistance might place you in a course for which you would not be prepared, and it could result in a lower GPA and possibly delay your degree progress.   Furthermore, it constitutes a violation of the university’s code of conduct.

The following excerpts from the full code pertain to the academic honesty expectations when taking ALEKS.

It is the expressed policy of UMass Boston that every aspect of academic life, not only formal coursework situations, but all relationships and interactions connected to the educational process shall be conducted in an absolutely and uncompromisingly honest manner.

The following actions are prohibited by the code:

Using any unauthorized material during an examination, such as notes, tests, calculators, cell phones, PDAs, or other electronic or mechanical communication devices. Abuse of cellular devices with photographic capabilities and use of devices for purposes of photographing test questions or other notes and materials.

Obtaining answers to examination questions from another person with or without that person’s knowledge; furnishing answers to examination questions to another student; using or distributing unauthorized copies of or notes from an examination.

Submitting as one’s own an examination taken by another person; or taking an examination in another person’s place.

Violating the academic honesty policy may result in serious academic sanctions including, but not limited to, suspension or expulsion from the university

Things to know about ALEKS:

  • Make sure you have 90 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time.  Take it at a time when you feel most alert.

  • Have a pencil and plenty of scratch paper.

  • Take the assessment seriously but relax because you can re-test after your initial assessment.  To improve your score, you have six months to use the Preparation and Learning module.

  • Login to WISER. (First time users, see these instructions.) Next, go to the WISER Student Center page and find the Quick Links drop down menu.  Select 'ALEKS Math Placement PPL'    This will connect you directly to the ALEKS site so you can take the assessment.

  • When finished, you will receive the score of your initial assessment.  See the Score Report Chart to determine your course placement.  You can register for the course that you placed into, or any lower level course. 

Score Report Chart
Course

Minimum

ALEKS Score

Details
Math 114Q 40 % Quantitative Reasoning.  Successful completion of this course meets the prerequisite for Statistics, but NOT for Precalculus
Math 115 44 % College Algebra.  Completion of this course with a B or better meets the prerequisite for Statistics or Precalculus

Math 125

CS 105

51 %

Introductory Statistics.  This course does NOT meet the prerequisite for Precalculus or Calculus

Introduction to Computer Concepts

Math 129 or 130

CS 110 or 114L

59 %

Precalculus for Management and Social Science Students or Precalculus

 

Introduction to Computing and Introduction to Java

Math 134 or 135 66 % Managerial Calculus or Survey of Calculus
Math 140 or 145 74 % Calculus I or Calculus I for Life and Environmental Sciences.  

If your ALEKS score is 39 or below, please meet with an advisor to discuss the appropriate developmental mathematics course.  

 

After reviewing your score, explore your two options:

• If you’re satisfied with your score because it places you into your desired course, you will be able to register for that class within 24 hours.   To potentially improve your class performance, we recommend that you utilize the Preparation and Learning module that is available for six months. 

•. If you’re dissatisfied with your score, you can re-test but you should first spend time using the Preparation and Learning module before you take the test again.  Once you access the Preparation and Learning module you will have six months to use it; see FAQ #12. 


Attention Transfer Students: 
You will lose math transfer credit if you register for a course that is at or below the level you transferred in. For example, if you transfer in Pre-calculus (Math 130), and then take College Algebra (Math 115), you would lose the Math 130 transfer course.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:


1.  Do I need to take ALEKS?
Yes, if you need to enroll in a course with a math placement prerequisite.

2.  When do I take ALEKS?
If you are a new first year or new transfer student you should take ALEKS as soon as you receive your UMass Boston email and at least two weeks before your New Student Orientation session.

If you are a continuing student, you may take it any time you wish to enroll in a course with a math placement prerequisite.

In either case, be sure to give yourself extra time so you can utilize the six-month Learning and Preparation module. It will help you to strengthen your skills in hopes of placing into your desired course. It will also better prepare you for success in the upcoming course.

3. How can I receive disability related testing accommodations?
Contact the Ross Center for Disability Services at 617-287-7430 / email:  Ross.Center@umb.edu

4. Can ALEKS be used to waive my Quantitative Reasoning Requirement?
Yes, if you are a BA student and can place into Precalculus or above.  You will, however, need to test in the UMass Boston Testing Center under proctored conditions to receive a waiver for your QR requirement.  Please call 617-287-5522 to schedule an appointment.  

5. How long is the assessment?
Each ALEKS assessment is open for 24 hours and consists of 30 questions, which can typically take up to two hours to complete.  

6. Is there a fee?
No.  UMass Boston has fully absorbed the cost of ALEKS to better support your success.

7. What does it mean that ALEKS is adaptive?
ALEKS ‘adapts’ to your ability level.  The first questions asked will be drawn from across the curriculum and may be too easy or too difficult.  As the assessment proceeds, your answers will be used to give the system an idea of your knowledge, and it will gradually focus the questioning in a way appropriate to your individual skill level.  By the end of the assessment, you should find the questions generally challenging, but reasonable for your individual level of knowledge.  It is likely that you will be asked questions on material you have not yet learned.  On such questions, it is appropriate to answer, “I don’t know.”  However, on any question that you have familiarity with, it is important to do your best.  “I don’t know” is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that you do not know the topic, which will be reflected in the results.  If you don’t do your best on the assessment, ALEKS will underestimate your ability.  

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

9. Which courses require ALEKS math placement?
Courses that require ALEKS math placement include:

All college level Math courses up through Math 140,  all Math Skills courses &

Chem 115, 116, 117
CS 105, 108, 110, 114, 115L, 210, 240.
Econ 101, 102, 201 & 202, 205
EHS 280
MSIS 110 & 111
Physics 107, 108, 113
Psych 270
Sociol 350
Always check WISER for course pre-requisite information.  In some cases, students can bypass ALEKS by having an appropriate grade in a pre-requisite course.

10.  How many times can I take ALEKS?
You may take ALEKS a total of five times; however, you must wait 48 hours after your first assessment before retesting.  You may log in to ALEKS at any time to view the number of opportunities you have remaining to retest.  Re-testing must be completed by the placement end date as indicated on your ALEKS account. 

Between the second and third assessments, you will be required to spend at least three hours utilizing the Preparation & Learning module.  

11.  What is the Learning and Preparation Module? 
After completing your assessment, ALEKS will assign a Preparation and Learning Module based on your score.  The Module is an online learning system to help you strengthen skills that need the most attention.  It can help you improve your placement and eventual course outcomes.  You can also use the Preparation and Learning module to review and improve your skills to place into a higher course.


12. How long can I access the Preparation & Learning Module?
The Preparation & Learning module can be accessed for six months.

13. How long are the results valid?
Your placement results posted to WISER are valid for one year.

14. I took ALEKS at another institution, can I use this score at UMass Boston?
No. We want you to access AKEKS here so that you can utilize the Preparation and Learning module to better prepare for your UMass Boston classes.

15. What do I do if my computer crashes?
Reboot your computer and log back in.  ALEKS will remember where you left off.

16. Why doesn’t ALEKS open when I click on it? 
Check your pop-up blocker settings in your browser.  You may have to temporarily allow pop-ups on this site.

17. I am having trouble inputting my answers.  
Click on the ALEKS 'Help' button.

18. I am having technical problems inside ALEKS. What should I do?
For ALEKS customer support, call
714-245-7191 ext 201

19. I am having problems logging into WISER.
Call the UMass Boston computer help desk. Phone: 617-287-5220 or 7-5220 on campus

Click here for WISER Help for Students

20.  Why is ALEKS Math PPL missing from my Quick Links?  
If you previously applied or attended UMass Dartmouth or UMass Lowell then you may need to select UMass Boston in your WISER User Preferences section.   To fix this problem, start from your Student Center page; under Personal Information, select 'User Preferences'.  Then, select UMass Boston as your default institution.   Click 'save'.   ALEKS Math PPL should appear in the Quick Links.  If not, call the Testing Center at 617-287-5522 for assistance. 

If you decide to take the test at the UMass Boston Testing Center, please review the following:

  • Photo identification is required
  • Calculators are not allowed
  • Scores are available immediately upon test completion
  • Cell phones must be turned off and given to the proctor