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Determine Your Course Placements

All students admitted to Penn State have demonstrated the ability to succeed academically. A Penn State education is meant to help you become an independent learner. Therefore, you need to develop new study skills, refine time management strategies, and actively use learning resources in order to be successful at the collegiate level. It’s important for you to begin in the courses that match your readiness and are most likely to lead to success. 

At Penn State, we use the ALEKS Math Assessment to evaluate your readiness to take college-level math and science courses. Since these courses are demanding, it is important for you to begin in the course most likely to lead to success. You will not be permitted to take a course unless you have demonstrated readiness – either through the ALEKS Math Assessment or by completing high school calculus. Your NSO Tasklist will provide you with a personalized message stating whether ALEKS is required for you.

If you took calculus as part of your high school course work, you are not required to complete ALEKS. You will place into any math that requires an ALEKS score as a pre-requisite for the course. If you completed high school calculus but are concerned about your readiness to succeed in college-level mathematics and science courses, we encourage you take the ALEKS Math Assessment. You can use the additional information to make informed decisions in consultation with your academic adviser.

If you did not take calculus as part of your high school course work, you are required to complete ALEKS prior to attending New Student Orientation. You will access the ALEKS Math Assessment as part of your NSO Tasklist.

All students may take the assessment up to three times after using the learning modules. Access to ALEKS ends at the conclusion of your first drop-add period.

You can find additional information about how we determine course placements in English, World Language, and Chemistry below:

All majors require a first-year English composition course. There are several courses that will satisfy this requirement. Please review the English placement information in the Undergraduate Bulletin

World Language:
Some majors require proficiency in a World Language. We will consider your high school course work (if any) when recommending your starting language level. Please review the World Language placement information in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Some majors require introductory or general chemistry courses. This placement is based on your prior background in chemistry and math, and your intended major. Please review the Chemistry placement information in the Undergraduate Bulletin.