Placement Information

Choosing the Right Course

Social and Natural Science Majors
Most Social and Natural Science majors are required to take Statistics (MAT52-114) and/or Modern Calculus I (MAT52-164). It is extremely important to consult with your advisor before choosing your mathematics course.

Non-Science Majors
We recommend that non-Science majors take Explorations in Mathematics (MAT52-104), Statistics (MAT52-114), Modern Calculus I (MAT52-164) and/or Computer Science I (CSC54-184).

What is the “Modern Calculus” sequence?
The Modern Calculus sequence is our replacement for the “traditional” Calculus sequence, and the two differ in a number of important ways. Modern Calculus emphasizes skills and tools that are used in the modern world. Technology is used as a tool to illuminate calculus concepts. Additionally, Modern Calculus promotes multivariable functions and multivariate reasoning throughout the sequence. 

Students should note that the traditional order of topics is altered in Modern Calculus. As a result, students who have previous Calculus experience will still see new material in our Modern Calculus sequence.

Modern Calculus I or Modern Calculus II?
Students who wish to take Modern Calculus II (MAT52-264) must have a minimum of C- in Modern Calculus I (MAT52-164) or equivalent. Transfer credit for (traditional) Calculus I allows entry into Modern Calculus II without consultation. For AP credit, see below.

Exam Placement
An AP score of 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB exam yields credit for Calculus I. A student with this score will be placed in Modern Calculus 2.

An AP score of 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC exam yields credit for Calculus I and four additional math credits. A student with this score will be placed in Modern Calculus 2.

Those with AP scores of 3 should consult with a Calculus instructor to aid their placement.

ALEKS Math Knowledge Assessment

What is ALEKS PPL?
ALEKS Prep and Learning Module (PPL) is a program that provides individualized learning and assessment. Through individualized learning, you will be able to zero in on your strengths in math, and have the opportunity to improve your math skills with targeted learning.

What does my score mean?
The table below provides some guidance based on your Math Knowledge Assessment Score.

Score Suggested next steps
  • Work in the ALEKS PPL Learning Modules to brush up on areas that need improvement.
  • Depending on the course, other recommendations from your instructor may be given (such as attending tutoring, attending office hours, etc.).
  • Talk with your academic advisor about what an appropriate course load might include.
  • You are ready for Modern Calculus 1 and/or General Chemistry 1.
  • You can always return to ALEKS to brush up on topics you may have forgotten as you cover them in your courses.

Will the ALEKS Math Knowledge Assessment impact my future enrollment in certain courses?
No. Regardless of your score, you are still free to enroll in any course. However, if your score is below a 70 you may want to discuss with your advisor the best courses to select to be successful. In addition, depending on your score, your faculty member as part of a particular course may ask you to do additional work in the ALEKS PPL Learning Modules to improve your score.

I have taken the ALEKS PPL Math Knowledge Assessment - now what?
Once you are finished with the ALEKS PPL Math Knowledge Assessment, you will immediately receive your score and some information about what that score means.

If you are not satisfied with your score after your initial assessment, you can reassess four more times. After the first attempt, you will be required to wait 48 hours and spend at least five hours in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module before reassessing. Using the ALEKS Prep and Learning Modules to refresh subjects that you may need help with can greatly benefit your score and set you up for success in your college math and/or chemistry courses. If your score is below a 70, you should take advantage of the ALEKS Prep and Learning Modules. ALEKS will identify what you know and what you are ready to learn next so you can brush up on missing knowledge.

Why should I try my best on the ALEKS Math Knowledge Assessment?
It is important that you take the Math Knowledge Assessment seriously to avoid unnecessary work. You will receive recommendations from your instructor and academic advisor based on your score. If you receive a score that is lower than your true knowledge or abilities, you may be asked to do additional work or attend additional meetings. Some instructors may require you to work towards a particular score as part of your class.

What is Southwestern’s honor code?
Southwestern’s Honor Pledge: “I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.”

You may not use outside resources (textbooks, friends, family, search engines, online equation solvers, calculators etc.) while taking the ALEKS PPL Math Knowledge Assessment. Using an unauthorized resource or cheating on the ALEKS PPL is a violation of the Southwestern University’s Honor Code and may result in disciplinary action. There is no benefit to cheating on the ALEKS PPL Math Knowledge Assessment – the goal of the assessment is to ensure adequate preparation for your math and/or chemistry courses which can lead to success in these and future courses.

What if I have problems with the software while I am using it online?
Please do not write to faculty or technical support people at Southwestern with ALEKS questions. ALEKS provides excellent support for their software. See