Office of Academic Assessment

USM - Math Placement Test

ALEKS - USM Math Placement Test: Student Questions & Answers


Quick Access to ALEKS Login Procedures

Important Note: If you require disability-based exam accommodations to participate in this math placement exam, you must contact the Disability Services Center to make these arrangements before taking the exam. Please complete the following webform to start the request. If you have questions, please contact the Disability Services Center office at 207-780-4706 or  

What is the purpose of the Math Placement Test?

To support student success, USM uses student scores on the Math Placement Test to determine enrollment in mathematics courses or math-related courses. Many majors at USM have specific math requirements, so completing the Math Placement Test helps place you into the most appropriate course. 

Who is required to take the Math Placement Test?

All incoming degree students are required to take the Math Placement Test if they have not submitted a SATM or ACT test score. Students who submit a SATM score of 570 or above or ACT Math score of 22 or above are required to take the Math Placement Test if they are interested in enrolling in a Pre-Calculus (MAT 140) or Calculus (MAT 152) course as their first math course at USM.  

Any continuing or transfer student who has not yet met their minimum math requirement may need to take the Math Placement Test.


Current USM Placement Policies:   

  • Any course grade in a USM Math Course will override the Math Placement Exam score.
  • If you retake the Math Placement Test, USM will use your highest test score for your math course placement. Your placement test scores are valid for three years.
  • Current Students: If you have math test scores from the previous USM Math Placement Test, and have not yet taken a math course, your test scores can be used for your math course placement, or you can opt to take the ALEKS Placement Test to obtain a more recent assessment of your math skills. To review the previous Math Placement Test-Scoring Rubric, click here.


What is the ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning Assessment (ALEKS PPL)?

USM is using the ALEKS PPL, a web-based test designed to identify your strengths and weakness in mathematics. The Placement Assessment has up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete (the maximum time allowed is 3 hours). The expectation is that you start and finish the test in one sitting.    

The ALEKS placement test consists of up to 3 parts.

  1. An initial Placement Assessment (this would be your first attempt at the Math Placement Test Assessment). You can stop here and use these test scores for your course placement, or you can move on to items below. If you want to prepare for your first attempt, please click this link for a math practice test.

  2. An individualized "Prep and Learning Module" becomes available to you after your initial placement assessment. This learning module allows you to allocate a block of time to work on particular math areas to refresh your skills (i.e., beginning algebra to calculus). When you are ready, you can then retake the test.   

  3. To improve your initial test score, you have the option of retaking the placement test. You have access to as many as four additional attempts. You must wait at least 24 hours between each attempt. You are not required to work in the “Prep and Learning Module” prior to taking the test for a second time. However, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these study aids that are tailored to particular topics. If you decide to take the test again after your second attempt, you will be required to spend at least 3 hours working in the "Prep and Learning Module" before you can complete a third, fourth, or fifth attempt.


How is the ALEKS Placement Test Administered?

ALEKS PPL can be taken from your home computer.


Additional Details about the ALEKS Placement Test:  

  • No outside assistance, such as getting help from others or help from other materials, is allowed. The purpose of the test is to measure each student’s unique knowledge, including the math topics they know, those topics they do not know, and topics they are ready to learn. The ALEKS PPL placement assessment determines this state of knowledge for each student so that USM can accurately place students into a course, based on their current math abilities.
  • No personal calculators will be allowed during the test, but a pop-up screen calculator will be provided on some items. In addition, no external resources can be accessed during the placement assessment.
  • No use of cell phones or other electronic devices is permitted.
  • The ALEKS Placement Assessment is not a multiple-choice test. It requires you to work out solutions with a paper and pencil. 
  • There may be material on the placement test that you are not familiar with; however, it is important to do your best. There is no penalty for incorrect answers. If you don’t know how to solve a math problem, you can choose to say "I don’t know" on the test. Your test score will be based upon what you currently know.
  • Your test score will be available to view immediately after you have completed the placement test. However, it may take 24 hours to post your math test score to your MaineStreet student account.     


What are the topics covered during the ALEKS PPL Assessment?

ALEKS PPL is an online adaptive system that covers a broad spectrum of mathematics topics. It is a Placement Assessment, not a preview of math courses at the University. The test will help identify whether you are adequately prepared for a particular course. After you have taken your first Placement Assessment, you will have the opportunity to use the "Prep & Learning Module" to review and master various math topics and areas, which can refresh your knowledge and skills. Students who spend at least 3 hours in the Module could increase their chances of improving their test score. 

Topics that may be covered:

  • Whole numbers, fractions, and decimals (including operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals; equivalent fractions and ordering; decimal place value)
  • Percents, proportions, and geometry (including percentages, proportions, perimeter and area, volume and surface area, angels and triangles, similar figures)
  • Signed numbers, linear equations and inequalities (including integers, signed fractions and decimals, signed numbers and exponents, algebraic expressions, properties of real numbers, solving linear equations, applications with linear equations, solving inequalities, solving multivariable equations)
  • Lines and systems of linear equations (including graphing lines, slope, linear equations, graphing linear inequalities, applications with lines and systems)
  • Relations and functions (including sets and intervals, evaluating functions, domain and range, graphs of functions and their transformations, composition of functions and inverse functions)
  • Integer exponents and factoring (including properties of exponents, scientific notation, operations with polynomials, factoring polynomials)
  • Quadratic and polynomial functions (including quadratic equations, solving quadratic inequalities, graphing quadratic functions, polynomial functions, and circles)
  • Radical expressions and functions (including simplifying rational expressions, division of polynomials, solving and graphing rational equations, direct and inverse variations)
  • Radicals and rational exponents (including simplifying expressions with radicals, solving equations with radicals, Pythagorean Theorem and the Distance Formula, higher roots, rational exponents)
  • Exponentials and logarithms (including properties of logarithms, solving and graphing logarithmic and exponential equations, application with exponential functions)
  • Trigonometry (including angles, right triangle trigonometry, unit circle, graphing trigonometric functions, inverse trigonometric functions, trigonometric identities and equations)


Do you need disability-based accommodations?

If you have a documented disability and need disability-based accommodations for the Math Placement Test, please contact the USM Disability Services Center to discuss arrangements.


Survey Items on the ALEKS Math Placement Test

The ALEKS test platform asks all test-takers questions about their previous math preparation. A few questions are required, and other questions are optional. You are encouraged to answer all these items because the information is helpful to understand the incoming student cohort.    


How do I access the Math Placement Test?

If you are taking the test for the first time: Be sure your USM email account is activated, and then review the log-in procedures below, before clicking on the ALEKS Math Placement Test link.

If you have forgotten your USM username or password, please contact the IT Help Desk (207-780-4029).

You can access the test by going directly to the following link: USM Math Placement Test.


Getting Started:

You may use Windows, Macs or iPads to take ALEKS.


Login Procedures for the ALEKS Placement Test:

  • Once you click on the ALEKS link, please login using your UMS ID and password, If you have forgotten your username or password, please contact the IT Help Desk (207-780-4029).
  • Select the Math Placement Exam for University of Southern Maine (USM), if not automatically redirected,   
  • Check the box to accept the terms of use, then click on "Continue",
  • Then, your account will be linked to the ALEKS software, and click on “Continue”,
  • The first time that you log-in, you will be directed to an introduction and a brief survey,
  • Complete the small tutorial of the ALEKS software, showing you how to respond to the test items.
  • ALEKS will ask you for a proctor password. The password is: SOUTHERNMAINE1
  • Lastly, you will be directed back to the home page. There, click the placement tab to take the Math Placement Test.
  • If you have any issues with the log-in procedures, please contact the IT Help Desk (207-780-4029) if you need assistance.
  • You can access the test by going directly to the following link: USM Math Placement Test.


Interpreting the ALEKS Math Test Score 

Your overall test score is a number between 0 and 100. This score represents the percentage of topics ALEKS has identified that you have mastered. Please see the following test score rubric to interpret the math test score.

ALEKS Math Test Score

No score on the ALEKS or a score below 30

A score between 30 - 45

A score between 46 - 60               

A score between 61 - 75

A score of 76 or above  

Math Course Placement

MAT 100

MAT 101, MAT 105, MAT 120, MAT 131                 

MAT 108

MAT 140, MAT 145

MAT 148, MAT 152 

Other Course Placement Options: Depending upon your major, the following math-related courses could be an option for those with an adequate math test score. Please discuss with your academic advisor.

A score of 30 or above:  LOS 120,  PSY 201, SOC 307

A score of 46 or above:  ACC 110 

A score of 61 or above:  COS 160


Contact Information?

If you have technical problems accessing the ALEKS Math Placement Test and procedures, please contact the IT Help Desk (207-780-4029).

If you have questions regarding which math course (or related course) you should take, based upon the requirements of your academic major, please contact your academic advisor.

If you have additional questions about the Math Placement Exam, please send an email to: