ALEKS exam places students in math courses

The ALEKs exam is a math placement assessment developed at UC Irvine in 1994. Emileé Edwards | Multimedia Journalist.

By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer

Most Baylor students have to take one or two math classes in order to fulfill their degree requirements, which often include having to pass Calculus 1.

However, before students start taking math, they have to place into either Precalculus or Calculus.

If a student meets a certain score requirement from the SAT/ACT, they can place into Pre-calculus or Calculus. However, students who do not meet the score requirement for either class must take the ALEKS math placement exam in order to qualify.

The ALEKS exam “uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine what a student knows and doesn’t know.”

Houston senior Hadee Zabad, who took the exam as a freshman, said that he felt the ALEKS exam was not representative of the material he needed to know in order to succeed in the calculus class it placed him in.

“Whenever I had to take the ALEKS in order to see if I qualified with all the lesson plans, I didn’t feel like any of those were really relevant to my understanding of the subjects I needed to know, so I don’t think it was an accurate way to tell my abilities and skills,” Zabad said.

Baylor math department chair Dorina Mitrea said that while she was not a part of the implementation process, she believes the ALEKS test was thoroughly examined before it was put to use.

Mitrea said that she believes all aspects of the exam’s effectiveness, regarding how the exam would meet its goals, were taken into account before it was implemented.

“I joined the math department at Baylor last August, at which time the ALEKS exam was already in place as an established University policy,” Mitrea said. “My understanding is that it is the result of a joint effort at various levels on campus.”

A student who gets at least an 80 on the exam can take calculus, while a student who gets at least a 61 can take pre-calculus. If a student scores below a 61, he or she must take the exam again, up to four more times, in order to place into a math class. Before each attempt, students have to work on a provided “Prep & Learning Module” for at least three hours.

Mitrea said the math department believes that while this might seem like a lot of work, “dedication and hard work before enrolling in Precalculus or Calculus 1 will greatly increase your chance at success in these courses.”

Zabad however, said that he felt the exam and course were too long.

“I definitely felt the amount of time needed to take the course was a bit lengthy,” Zabad said. “I had to be doing drills for over a week. The full length of everything I needed to do was about two to three weeks on top of my class schedule at the time. It felt pretty lengthy to me.”