What is ALEKS PPL?

ALEKS Prep and Learning Module (PPL) is a program that provides individualized learning and assessment. It uses open-response questioning to zero in on your strengths and weaknesses in math, reports its findings, and provides you the opportunity to improve your placement with targeted learning. The ALEKS Placement Assessment will give you a much better sense of your strengths and weaknesses in mathematics, and will provide you with the opportunity to work on your weaknesses.

This is an assessment, not a test. ALEKS is designed to determine what you know, and there is really no penalty for incorrect answers. However, taking the process seriously and doing your honest best will ensure that you are placed into the most appropriate mathematics class.

All UC Santa Cruz students are expected to follow the university’s academic honesty and student conduct code.

ALEKS consists of three parts:

  • An Initial Placement Assessment
  • The Prep and Learning Module for individualized online learning
  • Access to two additional Placement Assessments

If you are satisfied with your placement after taking the initial assessment, you will be eligible to register for the appropriate math course(s). You can visit the “After Your Assessment” page for recommendations based on your results.

If you are not satisfied with your placement after your initial assessment, you can reassess two more times. After the first attempt, you will be required to wait 24 hours and spend at least five hours in the Prep and Learning module before reassessing. Using the Prep and Learning Module to refresh subjects that you may need help with can greatly benefit your score and set you up for success in your college math courses. You can retake the assessment up to two times (three total attempts). You can visit the “After Your Assessment” page for recommendations based on your results.

The ALEKS Placement Assessment has up to 30 questions and usually takes about 2 hours to complete, though your time may vary. You will need paper, a pencil, your Cruz ID, and your Gold password. ALEKS will provide an onscreen calculator as needed.

What topics are covered in the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

ALEKS PPL covers a broad range of mathematics topics.

  • Real numbers (including fractions, integers, and percentages)
  • Equations and inequalities (including linear equations, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, and quadratic equations)
  • Linear and quadratic functions (including graphs and functions, linear functions, and parabolas)
  • Exponents and polynomials (including rational equations and rational functions)
  • Rational expressions (including rational equations and rational functions)
  • Radical expressions (including higher roots and rational exponents)
  • Exponentials and logarithms (including function compositions and inverse functions, properties of logarithms, and logarithmic equations)
  • Geometry and trigonometry (including perimeter, area, and volume, coordinate geometry, trigonometric functions, and identities and equations)

What to expect

ALEKS begins with a tutorial to make sure you are comfortable with the math palette tools before the initial assessment begins. The tutorial demonstrates how to enter the different types of answers, how to use the ALEKS calculator, and how to graph. After the tutorial, you’ll be given the opportunity to start your initial assessment.

If during the assessment you are unsure how to input an answer or need help, select the help button below the answer palette tools to return to the tutorial. Going to the tutorial during the assessment will not impact the placement results.

  • You will have 24 hours to complete an assessment, and may log out and return as you like.
  • You have a maximum of three assessments. You must wait 24 hours and spend a minimum of five hours in the learning module between each assessment attempt.
  • You may not use your own calculator during the assessment.
  • You may not use any reference materials including books or websites during the assessment.
  • You may not receive help from others – friends, family members, tutors.
  • Your ALEKS license is good for one year, and can be extended upon request.
  • You will receive your ALEKS Placement Assessment score at the end of the assessment. This score is converted to a UCSC MP Tier and will be posted to your myUCSC portal within three business days.
  • Your MP Tier will determine which math courses you can register for.
  • After your assessment you can visit the After Your Assessment page for recommendations based on your intended major and score.


ALEKS PPL has an accessibility mode for persons using screen reader technology. JAWS 17+ (a Windows screen reader) is required. If you use screen reader technology, contact the Disability Resource Center for additional information and instructions on registering in an ALEKS PPL cohort that supports accessibility mode.

ALEKS does not rely exclusively on color to convey critical information, so it is fully accessible to persons who are colorblind. High contrast and grayscale settings are available.

Because there is no audio associated with the ALEKS content, ALEKS is fully accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Get ready

Students can take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment at home on a personal computer, laptop, or tablet. As long as you have access to the internet and are using an updated browser, you should not experience difficulties in taking your Placement Assessment. For a list of preferred browsers, please review the ALEKS system requirements on their support site. Students can also verify that their computer, laptop, or tablet is able to access and run ALEKS. The only material allowed during the assessment is scratch paper and pencils. No books, notes, or other resources should be used.

Once you start your assessment you will have 24 hours to complete it. You can take as long as you need to answer any individual question, so long as you complete the assessment within 24 hours. If for any reason you need to stop the assessment, you may return to it later. Your work will be saved, and you will be able to reenter the assessment where you left off. If you do not complete the assessment within 24 hours of starting, you will be required to start over from the beginning. Most students report taking approximately 2 hours to complete the assessment.

A reminder: Use of a personal calculator is prohibited. ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if one is needed to complete a particular problem. Find a quiet place free of distractions, and make sure to have paper, pencils, or pens for scratch work.

Let’s Go!

You’ll first need to register with ALEKS PPL by clicking the button below. You will then be directed to the Single Sign On (SSO) page where you will sign in using your Cruz ID and your Gold password. If after entering your ID and password you are not able to access the assessment, check that your password is correct. If necessary, you can reset your password. Every time you want to access ALEKS PPL you’ll be prompted to sign in via this SSO process.

Register for ALEKS

ALEKS Prep and Learning Module

After you’ve completed your first Placement Assessment, ALEKS will recommend the Prep and Learning Module it believes is best matched to your current abilities, as determined by your assessment. Spending time working through your ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between and after assessments allows you to review topics that you may have forgotten, and because you will have access to your Prep and Learning module for up to twelve months, you can use it even after you’re enrolled in your starting math course. Use it to brush up before your class begins or as additional review as you progress through your first math class at UCSC.

If you’ve already successfully completed a precalculus course, or other coursework covering trigonometry, logarithms, and exponential functions, you’ll probably benefit most from the Prep for Calculus module.

If ALEKS recommends the Prep for Calculus module based on your assessment score, you should probably select that module even if you haven’t taken precalculus or trigonometry yet. ALEKS won’t ask you to work on material you’re not ready for—you’ll have ample opportunity to polish your advanced algebra skills, and you can have a leisurely, stress-free introduction to new concepts.

If you haven’t yet taken a precalculus or trigonometry course and ALEKS recommends the Prep for Precalculus Learning Module, you’ll probably be best off with that module.

You can’t switch your Prep and Learning Module once you’ve started work in it, so choose wisely!

When working with your Prep and Learning Module, you will be presented periodically with a knowledge check. The knowledge check will provide you with feedback on what you have remembered and what you need more help with.

ALEKS PPL Learning Modules Guide