Math Placement

Calculated Success

To meet graduation requirements, all students must pass an approved mathematics course. The placement exams are designed to help you fulfill these requirements by identifying the courses that best match your skills.

With only a few exceptions, WSU undergraduate students are required to take the WSU Math Placement Assessment (MPA) to determine readiness for various courses.

The WSU Math Placement Assessment is through ALEKS and is a fully automated, adaptive system that covers material from Basic Math through Pre-calculus. The assessment takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. After the assessment, a targeted Prep and Learning Module is available for you to review and learn material, and to improve placement and eventual course outcomes.

All students are strongly encouraged to spend several hours using the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module. Even if you have achieved placement in your desired course, time spent in ALEKS will better prepare you for your upcoming course and ultimately lead to better grades.


A $45 fee will be billed to your WSU student account. This cost includes up to a full year of access to the WSU MPA package including:

  • Initial WSU MPA
  • A six-week on-line preparation and learning module
  • Up to four re-tests

There are two access periods: March 1-February 28 for students starting in a fall semester and October 1-September 30 for students starting in a spring semester.

You will not be able to register for a WSU math course without either a math placement score, transfer credit for a prerequisite course, or AP Calculus credit. AP Calculus AB scores of 2 or above will be accepted for placement into Math 140, Math 151, Math 171, or Math 202. AP Calculus AB scores of 3-5 will be accepted for placement into Math 172. Scores from SAT, ACT, or the State of Washington intermediate or advanced math placement test cannot be used.

First of all, RELAX. This is an “assessment,” NOT A TEST. The difference is that an assessment is designed to determine what you know. At the end of the ALEKS Placement Assessment, you will have a much better sense of your strengths and weaknesses in math. You will then have a chance to work on those weaknesses. There is really no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the assessment. The most important thing is that you take the assessment seriously and give it an honest effort so that the assessment truly reflects your level of knowledge and math preparedness.

Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment – your only reward will be that you are forced to take a class that is too difficult for your current level of mathematical knowledge. Therefore, while you are taking the assessment, do not consult any other source for help (friends, family, textbooks, internet searches, etc.). The purpose of the placement assessment is to give an accurate measure of your current mathematical skills so that you will be successful in your mathematics courses. Please see the Washington State Standards of Conduct for Students.

Practice. You may take a free ALEKS assessment, at any time, to become comfortable with the process. This free assessment is only a tutorial to familiarize yourself with the ALEKS system and your result will not be recorded. To access this go to go to and follow these steps:

  • Type “Free Trial” in the search box (top right).
  • Select “Free Trial” for INDEPENDENT USERS (first selection).
  • Click “Begin Trial” in the INDEPENDENT USERS box on the left.
  • Click “TRY ALEKS NOW” in the EXPLORE STUDENT MODULE box on the left.
  • Complete the User agreement and continue.
  • Complete Personal Information, Independent User Type should be “College or K-12 Student (Personal Preparation), choose your market and select a course.
  • Your Free Trial Account has been created providing you a Login Name and Password. Click “Continue to Free Trial.”
  • Welcome to ALEKS; begin the free trial tutorial and assessment.

Before taking the assessment you will need:

  • To be an enrolled or admitted WSU Tri-Cities student
  • Pencil and paper
  • Your WSU Network ID and password
  • Approximately two hours to complete the assessment (this time will vary for each student)

Please follow these general instructions for taking the assessment:

  • Use a pencil and paper to work out the answers to each question.
  • Do NOT use a textbook or calculator – the assessment has a built-in calculator which is available on certain questions.
  • At the beginning of the ALEKS assessment, you will go through a brief tutorial that will introduce you to the ALEKS system and interface. You will be shown how to enter different types of answers, how to use the ALEKS calculator, and how to graph something by hand.
  • Do your best to answer each question correctly.
  • Enter your answers carefully. Once you submit your response to a question, you cannot return to that question to change the answer.
    Select “I don’t know” only if you have no idea how to work a problem. If you select “I don’t know” repeatedly, it will lower your score on the ALEKS assessment.
  • If your computer locks up or freezes during the middle of the assessment, try hitting the “Refresh” button on your browser. If that does not work, close your browser and log back in. The work you have already submitted will be saved, and the assessment will pick up at the point you left off.
  • When you complete the assessment, you will see a screen with a pie chart and the % score that you earned on the ALEKS Assessment. Your score will be available to your advisor in about one business day.
  • Solve all problems on the ALEKS Assessment without assistance. This means that you should not use any books or online resources, and you should not get assistance from any other person. As a student at Washington State University, you are a full member of the University community. As a member of the University community, you are subject to the responsibilities of that community. When you violate a University regulation, you are open to disciplinary action of the University. A student at Washington State University has the responsibility to be honest in all academic and personal relationships. Academic integrity is imperative to the progression to real knowledge and to a student’s capacity to apply that knowledge to life’s problems. Personal integrity is what permits a student to realize goals.

Begin the assessment

After taking the assessment, your results will be updated on the morning of the next business day. You will then be able to register for the class into which you qualify. After the first assessment, all re-assessments must be proctored. You may retake the placement assessment up to four times. Before the first re-assessment, you are required to spend 3 hours in the Prep and Learning module and an additional 5 hours in the Prep and Learning module before the second re-assessment.

On-Campus Proctoring

You may take the re-assessment with a proctor at no cost in one of the computer labs on campus. Registration for the on-campus ALEKS is required.

Online Proctoring
Online proctoring for the re-assessment is available through ProctorU for an additional fee The ProctorU fee is paid directly by the student to Proctor U. The fee is $25 if you schedule a re-assessment at least 72 hours in advance and $33.75 if you schedule less than 72 hours in advance.

You may schedule your online re-assessment at any time to be proctored on or after July 1, 2015. For more information about ProctorU, setting up a ProctorU account, or scheduling a proctoring session, please visit ProctorU. Note that ProctorU calls the online re-assessment the “ALEKS Placement Re-Assessment.” To locate it quickly in ProctorU just type “ALEKS” into the “Exam” search field.

Tri-Cities Program Administrator


Kristy Valenciano

Office: West 263D
Phone: 509-372-7306

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