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Math Placement

All incoming freshmen (and transfer students still needing to meet their math requirement) should plan to take a math placement exam before registering for a math course at The University of Montana. The University has chosen to use ALEKS, a web-based, artificial intelligence testing and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately zero in on the strengths and any weaknesses in math, determining a placement level report for you. You and your advisor will use your ALEKS score to help determine the most appropriate math course for you during registration.

Please take a few minutes to read through the following information. Skipping the next sections may result in needing to take the math placement exam twice. (And who would ever want to do that?!)

  • Should I take the ALEKS placement exam if I already know the mathematics course I need?

    Yes! The "obvious" choice for your first mathematics class at UM might be an inappropriate choice for several reasons. For example, if there has been a gap of as few as 6 months since your last mathematics course, you may have slipped a bit. Your previous mathematics course(s) may have been taught at a more relaxed pace than you will find in a UM classroom, or the title of your previous course doesn't readily compare to the terminology used at UM. (Many high school classes called "Pre-calculus" only cover half of what is covered in UM's M151 Pre-calculus course.)

    We believe the ALEKS placement exam is the best way to assess your current math skills and recommend the most appropriate math course for you. By enrolling in the right math course, you increase the likelihood of math success with the least possible expenditure of time or tuition dollars.

  • What is the format of the exam?

    The placement exam is adaptive. This means that the computer automatically determines which questions are presented to you based on your responses to prior questions. This technique selects just the right questions to ask without giving you questions that are too easy or too difficult. Because the exam is adaptive, you do not have to answer as many questions as you would on a traditional paper-and-pencil test — probably no more than 25.

    Because the questions are chosen based on your answers to previous questions, you must answer every question when it is first given: You cannot leave a question and come back to it later. You must answer a question in order to go to the next question. You cannot return to previous questions.

  • What will my ALEKS placement score tell me?

    After you've answered the last question, ALEKS computes your math placement level. Your placement will be one of five levels: Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or "Out of 4" — which we refer to as Level 5.

    Once you know youre ALEKS placement level, return to this website for guidance in selecting the math course appropriate for your level and major.
  • I'm ready to take my ALEKS placement exam.