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Mathematics Placement Testing

The Mathematics Placement Process

The Mathematics Placement Process, for students who enroll in mathematics courses that begin January, 2017 or later.

Video explaining the ALEKS Placement Process

ALEKS-PPL is a resource provided to you by Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC).  The system allows you to both determine your current skill level and gives online training to improve your mathematical skills.  Used properly, ALEKS-PPL will set you on the path to success in your mathematics courses at GRCC. 

If you are:

  1. an incoming student who will need to take a math course at GRCC in the next 18 months, or
  2. a current student who has not successfully completed the prerequisite to the mathematics course you wish to enroll within 12 months of the course start date,

you must take the math placement assessment before you enroll into a mathematics course.   More information about ALEKS-PPL.    

Steps to Success in Math

  1. Take it early. Take the ALEKS-PPL math placement early (GRCC recommends 6 months before your enrollment date but at least one week prior to your enrollment date so you may have time to reassess your knowledge if necessary). After taking the placement, you can use the online learning modules to refresh and improve your skills. Early assessment will give you time to make extensive use of the learning modules. 
  2. Outside resources are not allowed!  Do not use any outside resources (books, notes, websites, other people) to assist you when you take the math assessment. This resource for your math success relies on an accurate assessment of your current skills. If a problem allows use of a calculator, one will be provided online, so there is no need for you to use anything but a pencil and scratch paper.  
  3. Use learning modules to improve.   Use the online learning modules to improve your skills.   After using the Course Placement Chart to find your placement, enter the learning module suggested by ALEKS-PPL.  Students who actively use the learning modules have a greater chance of success in their math course. Students who actively use the learning modules and reassess their knowledge have a greater chance of placing into the highest course in which the student is able to succeed.  
  4. Relax!  If desired, you may re-take the assessment.  You can take the assessment a total of 5 times.

What to Expect while taking ALEKS-PPL

  • ALEKS-PPL is a resource that will help you succeed in mathematics at GRCC.  So seriously, relax.  Breath.   The assessment portion is designed to assess your current skill level, while the learning modules are there to help you improve. 
  • All you need is scratch paper and a pencil.  You will be given a short tutorial on how to enter in mathematical symbols and graphs, since the assessment is not multiple choice.  The test takes on average 60-90 minutes to complete.  Your answers determine the next questions, so do your best.
  • Use the “I don’t know” selection rather than guessing if you really do not know how to work a problem, so that the system knows what questions to ask next. 
  • For most questions, a calculator is not allowed. If a calculator is allowed for a question, you will be given access to an online calculator.
  • Do not get help on the assessment from any resources, including books, notes, websites, or other people. There is no benefit to using outside assistance.   You would likely be placed into a course you cannot pass, which will end up being costly and a waste of your time.  Moreover, it may delay your graduation.
  • GRCC students use the ALEKS-PPL assessment and learning modules for nearly every math placement. The assessment, when done honestly, helps GRCC students find the correct math placement, which gives them the greatest chance of success in math.  So let’s get you started on your path to success! 

Once you have completed the assessment.

  • When you finish the assessment, you will see your results in a detailed summary pie chart, along with your placement score. This report indicates your skill level in a number of mathematics topics up through pre-calculus and trigonometry.  You can see your placement using the Mathematics Placement Chart.  
  • From your assessment report, you will also see a link to gain access to a learning module. This is where you can improve your skills, beginning with the most appropriate material as determined by your assessment results. 
  • If you wish to re-take the assessment, you must spend a minimum of 3 hours in the learning modules and wait at least 48 hours between assessments. We recommend you spend enough time to thoroughly refresh and to build your skills thoroughly. You can take the assessment a total of 5 times, so be sure to take your first attempt well in advance (in the spring or early summer for fall admission) to allow time for your work in the learning modules.
  • Students who aren't satisfied with their Math Placement Test Score and want help with retesting or preparation for retesting are welcome to take advantage of The Math Prep & Learning Lab for assistance. Check out for more information. 
  • Your assessments can be taken online from any location on a laptop or desktop computer.  You should not attempt the assessment from a tablet or mobile device.  
  • Once you receive a score that places you into math, you should enroll into your math course within 18 months or use the 6 months of online learning modules to refresh and improve your skills then retake the placement assessment to check your mathematics knowledge. Students may take the placement assessment a total of five times at no charge, if necessary.
  • Your placement score is valid for 18 months.  After 18 months you will have to reassess your knowledge to enroll into a mathematics course.  Please do not take the assessment unless you anticipate enrolling into a mathematics course within 18 months.
  • If you have questions call the Enrollment Center at (616) 234–3300.
  • If you have questions about your placement please contact the Mathematics Department at (616) 234–4253.
  • If you require an accommodation, please submit the testing accommodation form. You will need to submit any documentation you have and a Disability Support Services advisor will contact you to provide the appropriate accommodations.  If you have additional questions regarding accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services at (616) 234-4140.

Go to the Online Center to start your mathematics knowledge check assessment, if you plan to enroll in a mathematics course at GRCC in the next 18 months.