The Placement Process
Upon entry to Valparaiso University, all students who do yet not have college credit for mathematics are given a preliminary placement into appropriate mathematics classes through an evaluation process that includes any or all of ACT or SAT math scores, high school GPA, and math classes taken / grades earned during senior year. If a student determines the preliminary placement level is suitable, there is no need to continue and take the math placement assessment. If a student wishes to improve the preliminary placement, then he or she should take the math placement assessment. Here is how the process works; please make sure to read ALL the steps before starting Step 1.
STEP 1: You will enter preliminary academic information into a questionnaire found here:
Based on that data, you are presented with your preliminary placement (determinations are listed below) and what courses you are immediately eligible for. You may have to dig into the University Catalog to determine if that placement is right for you, based on quantitative requirements of your program. If you are happy with your placement, then you are done with the placement process. If you want to improve your placement, then you move into …
STEP 2: You can take a math placement assessment in the platform ALEKS to improve your placement level. Entry to ALEKS is done via the same URL as the questionnaire. The assessment is not a one shot deal. If you do not perform to your satisfaction, you have the option to retake the assessment after working a set of tutorials that the system designs individually for you based on your previous performance on the assessment. A minimum of 5 hours time spent in the tutorials is required before you have access to the assessment again. You can take the assessment up to four times. Basically, if you have a particular placement level in mind, getting to that placement level is entirely in your hands!
Placement Level 3: Students at this level are eligible for everything listed for Placement Group 2, as well as Math 131: Calculus I. This is as high as our placement system goes; placement in mathematics to anything higher than Calculus I requires previous college credit for the appropriate pre-requisite classes (for example, students who have received AP credit for Calculus I may start in Calculus II). Any student in this placement group should NOT take the math placement assessment.
The minimum standards for preliminary placement at this level are:
- PL 3: ACT MATH 30 – 36 (SAT MATH 690 – 800)
- PL 3: ACT MATH 25 – 29 (SAT MATH 590 – 680), and high school GPA of 3.50 or higher, and having taken a course in Precalculus, Trigonometry, or Calculus during senior year
Placement Level 2: Students at this level are eligible for everything listed for Placement Level 1, as well as Math 115: Trigonometry and Functions, Math 124: Finite Mathematics, and CHEM 121: General Chemistry I. Any student in this placement group should NOT take the math placement assessment unless direct entry into MATH 131: Calculus is desired.
- PL 2: ACT MATH 25 – 29 (SAT MATH 590 – 680), and high school GPA of 3.50 or higher, but NOT having taken a course in Precalculus, Trigonometry, or Calculus during senior year
Placement Level 1: Students at this level are eligible to enroll in many quantitative analysis and natural science courses, including BIO 171, CHEM 111, and PSY 201. In mathematics specifically, students are eligible to enroll in Math 111: Quantitative Reasoning II, Math 120: Mathematics and Society, Math 122: Applied Calculus, and Stat 140: General Statistics. Your choice of whether to take a mathematics / statistics class or a quantitative analysis course in another department should be made in consultation with your academic advisor. A student in this placement group should NOT take the math placement assessment unless direct entry into a course requiring a higher placement level is desired.
- PL 1: ACT MATH 25 – 29 (SAT MATH 590 – 680) and high school GPA below 3.50
- PL 1: ACT MATH 20 – 24 (SAT MATH 490 – 580) and high school GPA of 3.50 or higher
Placement Level 0: Students in this group take MATH 110: Quantitative Reasoning I before proceeding to further college mathematics and statistics classes. Also, most quantitative analysis and natural science courses require completion of MATH 110 or placement higher than MATH 110 in order to enroll. Any student in this placement group is encouraged to take the math placement assessment.
- PL 0: ACT MATH 20-24 (SAT MATH 490 – 580) and high school GPA below 3.50
- PL 0: ACT MATH 19 (SAT MATH 480) or below
Placement Level NP: (No Placement) Students for whom we do not have sufficient information to determine a placement level. Any student in this placement group is must provide the necessary information or take the math placement assessment.
- It is very possible your preliminary placement is lower than you think it should be; sometimes we have incomplete information. In that event, you can act to supply the missing information, or take the math placement assessment.
- Any prior college credit for mathematics or statistics courses (including credit achieved through AP exams and transfer credits) overrides everything in this preliminary placement system.
- All placement activity takes place before a student enters the course stream. Once a student begins in the course stream, progression from course to course relies solely on the standard course pre-requisites. For example, someone who places into MATH 115: Trigonometry and Functions cannot get an F in that class but then proceed to Calculus I anyway by (re)taking the math placement assessment.
The Math Placement Assessment (and afterwards!)
As of Summer 2016, Valparaiso University began using the ALEKS PPL math placement system. This system provides an adaptive mathematics Q&A session of up to 30 questions geared towards assessing a student’s mathematical skill. There are no passing and failing levels, simply an overall score reflective of a student’s cumulative skill set. This score guides the appropriate placement into mathematics and quantitative coursework. ALEKS scores and the resulting placement groups (see above for their descriptions) are as follows:
|ALEKS SCORE||PLACEMENT GROUP|
|0 – 44||0|
|45 – 59||1|
|60 – 74||2|
|75 – 100||3|
After taking the ALEKS math placement assessment the first time, a student may take advantage of the Preparation and Learning modules within ALEKS and subsequent retesting to increase the placement level before the start of the semester. More information can be found here: aleks.com/highered/ppl/prep_and_learning.
AP credit may override the usual math placement process. Students entering with high scores on the AP Calculus or AP Statistics exams are eligible for credit as follows:
- Credit for both MATH 131 and 132 (Calculus I and II) is given for scores of 5 on the AB Calculus exam and 4 or 5 on the BC Calculus exam. No math placement assessment is needed.
- Credit for MATH 131 (Calculus I) is given for scores of 4 on the AB Calculus exam and 3 on the BC Calculus exam. No math placement assessment is needed.
- Credit for STAT 140 (General Statistics) is given for a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Statistics exam, with a default math placement into Placement Group 1. Math placement is still needed for direct access to Math 131: Calculus I.