University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Placement Exam

At Pitt-Johnstown, we understand the importance of starting your math education on the right note.

That’s why we use the ALEKS Placement Assessment—to help pinpoint exactly where you stand in your math skills. This isn’t just about placing you in the right course; it’s about setting you up for success from day one. ALEKS is here to ensure you begin your journey in a math course that matches your current abilities, fostering growth and confidence. We’re here to support you every step of the way.

Important Dates

April 1: ALEKS Placement Assessment (ALEKS) is available for incoming students. 

May 9: Deadline to complete ALEKS for students to place into a summer class (important for students who may need prerequisites before taking Calculus 1 in the fall). 

June 1: Priority date to complete ALEKS for optimal scheduling opportunities for Fall 2024 classes. (If you haven't completed the assessment by June 1, please complete at least 1 week prior to your scheduled Academic Planning Day.)

August 22: Deadline to complete ALEKS for adjustment of Fall 2024 schedules prior to the first day of class. 

Please Note: The ALEKS placement assessment is available to incoming students who've confirmed their enrollment by submitting their tuition deposit.   Failure to participate in this assessment will result in automatic enrollment in Algebra I.

Please contact ALEKS Support at (800) 258-2374 should you have any issues in accessing the assessment.  Please have your confirmation on hand and a Customer Support Representative should be able to help you resolve the situation.  

ALEKS (Mathematics Placement Assessment)  

Pitt-Johnstown requires all first year and some transfer students either to take a proctored on-line Mathematics Placement Assessment (ALEKS) to ensure they start with the right math class or to take Algebra 1 (Math 0001) during their first semester. The right math class is:  

  • one for which prerequisite topics are well understood, not just vaguely familiar. 
  • one in which earning a good grade during your first semester in college is likely. 
  • one that doesn’t take a disproportionate amount of your time compared to your other classes. 
  • one that gives you the background you need to succeed in subsequent math classes required for your major. 

ALEKS is not a test on which you need to earn a high score, it is a tool to maximize your chances of earning a high grade in your first Pitt-Johnstown math class. The adaptive open-response assessment will include a maximum of 25 questions from the following topics: 

  • Whole numbers, fractions, and decimals 
  • Percents, proportions, and geometry 
  • Signed numbers, linear equations, and inequalities 
  • Lines and systems of linear equations 
  • Relations and functions 
  • Integer exponents and factoring 
  • Quadratic and polynomial functions 
  • Rational expressions and functions 
  • Radicals and rational exponents 
  • Exponentials and logarithms 
  • Trigonometry - students can earn 0 points on trigonometry questions and still qualify for Math 0002 (College Algebra), Math 0004 (Precalculus), or Math 0121 (Business Calculus). 


Cheating on ALEKS leads to placement in a class a student is not ready for and thus may fail.  To remove the temptation to cheat, Pitt-Johnstown has incorporated Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor with ALEKS. Taking ALEKS honestly results in being placed in a math class in which you can thrive! 

Respondus Monitor is a fully automated remote proctoring system that uses a webcam and microphone to record the student taking ALEKS and flag suspicious behavior for faculty members to view later. Examples of suspicious behavior: 

  • the student leaves the room with an incomplete question on the screen. 
  • someone other than the student taking ALEKS appears onscreen. 
  • talking, either by the student or someone else, while the exam is in progress. 
  • the presence of a calculator, textbook, formula sheet or anything other than pencil and blank paper in the student’s work area. 
  • the student frequently glances or stares in a direction other than the screen or the paper used to work out answers. 

In addition to avoiding the above inappropriate behaviors, make sure you:  

  • take the assessment in a well-lit room and avoid backlighting, such as sitting with your back to a window. 
  • do NOT wear a baseball cap or hat with a brim. 
  • do NOT have your device/webcam on your lap, bed, or other soft surface where the device/webcam is likely to move. 
  • do NOT move your device screen once the setup is complete if you’re using a built-in webcam. 

You may be required to re-take ALEKS in-person if Respondus Monitor flags any suspicious behavior. This is nothing to fear! We will give you a comfortable, quiet place for you to do your best on another attempt. 

Don’t panic if something occurs beyond your control while taking ALEKS. Simply correct the issue and continue the exam. Whoever is reviewing the recordings will be able to recognize when no inappropriate behavior has occurred.   


  • Only students who have officially accepted admission to Pitt-Johnstown and paid any required deposit can take ALEKS. Your score does not affect your admission status! 
  • Students who take the ALEKS Placement Assessment early will have optimal scheduling opportunities. 
  • Don’t stress about questions or concepts you don’t remember or haven’t seen before! ALEKS is not a test, it’s an assessment to figure out the right math class for you. It’s okay to click “I don’t know” or miss problems! 
  • A “good” ALEKS score is not a high score, but the one that identifies the math class in which you are ready to thrive.  
  • IMPORTANT: If you do NOT take ALEKS, you will be required to take Algebra 1 (Math 0001) your first semester at Pitt-Johnstown.  

What does my ALEKS Score Mean?  

Your ALEKS Score is:  You placed in and are eligible to take: 
 0-45  Algebra 1 (Math 0001) 


College Algebra (Math 0002) or other Quantitative Reasoning course and/or 

Discrete Math (Math 0401)  


Precalculus (Math 0004) – STEM majors or 

Business Calculus (Math 0121) – Business majors 


Business Calculus (Math 0121) – Business majors or 

Calculus 1 (Math 0221) – STEM majors 

 0-54  Prep for Chem (Chem 0105) – if Chemistry 0111 is needed for your major 
55-100 Chemistry 1 (Chem 0111) – if needed for your major 

IMPORTANT:  If you choose not to take ALEKS and you do not have transfer credits for a college level math class, you will be required to take Algebra 1 (Math 0001) your first semester at Pitt-Johnstown.  

What’s Next? 

  • If you are happy with the class in which you placed, congratulations!  You can use the targeted review in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module to fully prepare for the class you will be taking. 
  • If you think you are NOT adequately prepared for the class in which you placed and would appreciate a review before taking that class, you may enroll in one or more of its prerequisites first.  
  • If you were placed in a lower class than you expected, you may:  
    • ask your advisor or division office whether starting in this lower class will affect your progress toward graduating in four years. 
    • enroll in a summer class at Pitt-Johnstown (or another school approved by the Registrar’s Office) to ensure you are ready for a higher-level math class in the fall.  IMPORTANT:  This option is only possible for students who take ALEKS before the summer class begins. 
    • re-take ALEKS a maximum of two additional times. You are first required to spend a minimum of 5 hours in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module, which will be tailored to cover concepts you missed or skipped on the assessment. The Module is available after your first and second assessment attempts. You must wait 48 hours after completing each assessment attempt before taking the next one. 

STEM Students and Calculus 1 

STEM students often feel that their first college math class “should” be Calculus 1. Students who don’t remember and understand the pre-requisite material for Calculus 1, however, should take College Algebra (Math 0002) and/or Precalculus (Math 0004) before taking Calculus 1. Students without a sufficient algebra and trigonometry background often fail Calculus 1 and have to take it again, still without an understanding of the needed pre-requisite material.  Ultimately, it takes fewer semesters (and less money) to complete your math requirement if you start in the class for which you’re ready. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee to take ALEKS? 

Yes, it costs $20 to take ALEKS and $5 to use Respondus Monitor. The combined $25 allows you to take the ALEKS Assessment up to 3 times. You will pay the fees only when you log in to take ALEKS the first time.  

Required Materials and Equipment 

  • One of the following devices 
    • Windows running 10+ 
    • Mac running OS X 10.15+ 
    • iPad App running iOS 16+ 
    • Chromebook running 105+ 
  • Reliable internet connection 
  • Microphone and webcam 
  • Lockdown Browser (download at
  • Photo ID (Driver’s license or other state ID, Pitt-Johnstown ID, passport) 
    • The name on your ID must match your name as shown in ALEKS 
  • Several sheets of blank paper and a pencil 
  • Hard surface clear of everything except the materials listed above 
  • Quiet, distraction free environment for up to 3 hours 
I don’t have a computer with a webcam and microphone. Must I still take ALEKS? 

Yes. If you do not have the appropriate equipment or a good environment at home to take ALEKS, you may either look for local resources, such as a library or school, or you may set up an appointment to take ALEKS at Pitt-Johnstown in a proctored setting.  Email or  for more information. 

How do I register for ALEKS? 

1. Log into the portal. 

2. Type ALEKS in the search bar at the top of the screen.   

3. Click the “Take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment” link. 
Choose the Johnstown Campus option, if prompted 

4. Pay the $20 ALEKS assessment fee. 

5. Follow the directions to incorporate Respondus. You will have to pay a $5 Respondus fee.  

6. Begin the exam. 

Is the ALEKS placement assessment timed? 

Yes. You have 3 hours to complete the assessment once it has begun, although most students need only about 90 minutes. If you log out or are timed out due to inactivity, the clock keeps ticking. The system keeps track of problems you have finished. If you logged out or timed out in the middle of a problem, that problem will be considered incorrect and you will not be able to access it when you log in again. 

How many questions will I be asked? 

The assessment includes a maximum of 25 questions and takes about 90 minutes to complete. The exact number and type of questions you get will adapt as you answer or skip questions.  

May I use my own calculator while taking ALEKS? 

No. The only calculator you may use is the one provided onscreen by ALEKS. If a calculator does not appear onscreen for a particular problem, you should not need one.  

How will I know how to use ALEKS? Are there written instructions anywhere? 

ALEKS begins with a brief tutorial before the first question is given. 

What resources may I use while taking ALEKS? 

You may use only a pen or pencil, blank scratch paper, and the onscreen calculator provided by ALEKS. You may not receive assistance from friends, family, other websites, textbooks, or any other resource not provided by ALEKS.  

IMPORTANT:  Using outside resources will lead to the need to retake ALEKS in person at Pitt-Johnstown. 

Is there a penalty for guessing? 

There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the assessment. However, guessing answers correctly may place you into a course for which you aren’t prepared. It is best to skip questions you do not remember or understand. 

What is my ALEKS score and what does it mean? 

After you complete ALEKS, a pie chart showing your areas of strength and weakness will appear. Your overall assessment score appears at the top of the page. If you have taken the assessment more than once, scores on previous assessments are shown below the pie chart. In this case, your highest assessment score is used for placement purposes. 

A minimum ALEKS score is required to enroll in any entry-level Mathematics course above Algebra 1 (MATH 0001) and to place into Chemistry 1 (Chem 0111). 

Your ALEKS Score is:  You placed in and are eligible to take: 
 0-45  Algebra 1 (Math 0001) 

College Algebra (Math 0002) or other Quantitative Reasoning course and/or Discrete Math (Math 0401)  


Precalculus (Math 0004) – STEM majors or 

Business Calculus (Math 0121) – Business majors 


Business Calculus (Math 0121) – Business majors or 

Calculus 1 (Math 0221) – STEM majors 

0-54 Prep for Chem (Chem 0105) – if Chemistry 0111 is needed for your major 
 55-100  Chemistry 1 (Chem 0111) – if needed for your major 

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment?  

Yes, you may take it a total of three times. Because there is generally no benefit to retaking the assessment immediately after completing a prior attempt, you must wait at least 48 hours between placement assessments. During that time you must spend at least five hours reviewing skills in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module.  

Must I work in my ALEKS Prep and Learning Module between placement assessments? 

Yes. After completing the assessment, you must spend a minimum of 5 hours in your Prep and Learning Module before repeating the assessment. 

What if I do not place into the course I wanted?

You can use the Prep and Learning Module to review and learn, and you may take another ALEKS assessment to improve your placement result. You may take the placement assessment up to three times. If you still do not achieve the required placement score for the course you want, it is important to realize you will have better success if you first take the prerequisite course(s) you were placed in. 

What if I placed into the class I wanted?

Congratulations! Take advantage of the targeted review and learning features in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module to improve your chances for success in this and future math classes.   

Will my ALEKS score affect my status as a student? 

No, ALEKS simply helps you and your advisor determine the mathematics course that will optimize your chances of success as a first-year student. Relax and remember that this is a placement tool, not a test. Enjoy figuring out problems that you understand and don’t worry about those you don’t remember how to do or may never have seen. 

I took the AP Calculus exam. Do I still need to take ALEKS? 
  • If you earned a 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus Exam (AB or BC), you do not need to take the placement assessment. Ask College Board to officially send your score to the Pitt-Johnstown Registrar’s Office as soon as possible so you can be scheduled in Math 0231 – Calculus 2.  
  • If you earned 1, 2, or 3, you must take the placement assessment to determine the best math course for you. 
  • If you took the AP Exam but do not yet have an AP score, take the assessment so your schedule can be created. Your schedule can be adjusted later if you learn your score is 4 or 5. 
I have credit for a college math class from another institution. Do I still need to take ALEKS? 

Your transfer credit should have been determined when you were accepted to Pitt-Johnstown and can be checked on PeopleSoft. 

  • If you have credit for a course that transferred as equivalent to Math 0001 or higher, your first semester math class (if you need one for your major) will be the next course in the sequence. You do not need to take ALEKS. 
  • If you do not have credit for a course that is equivalent to Math 0001 or higher, you must take ALEKS for the appropriate math placement or take Math 0001 (Algebra 1). 
  • If you have credit for an equivalent math course and need to take chemistry, you must take ALEKS for the appropriate chemistry placement. 
How long do I have access to the ALEKS assessment and my Prep and Learning Module? 

You will have one year of access from the time of your initial ALEKS placement.  You may use the Prep and Learning Module during this time to practice for your math class(es).  

IMPORTANT:  If you want to take ALEKS a second or third time, you must do so before the beginning of a semester to determine the right math class for your schedule. 

Does progress in an ALEKS Prep and Learning Module count toward class placement?

No, you must complete a new ALEKS assessment to change your placement result. Click on the placement tab on the upper right of the page from within ALEKS. Only your placement assessment results will be used for course placement. 

What are ALEKS Knowledge Checks? 

ALEKS Knowledge Checks, designed to solidify your understanding of the material you’ve been reviewing in an ALEKS Prep and Learning Module, appear periodically during the five or more hours you spend reviewing between ALEKS attempts. 

I forgot my ALEKS score. How can I look it up? 

You may find your ALEKS score(s) by going to  Search for and click the ALEKS link.   

What if a family member walks in the room while I am taking ALEKS? 

Don’t panic if something occurs beyond your control while taking ALEKS.  Simply correct the issue and continue the exam.  The faculty member viewing your recording will be able to recognize when no cheating or other inappropriate behavior has occurred.  

You may be required to re-take ALEKS in-person if Respondus Monitor flags any suspicious behavior.  This is nothing to fear! We will give you a comfortable, quiet place for you to do your best on another attempt. 


English Composition

The English Composition placement exam is no longer required.

All incoming Pitt-Johnstown students have a foundational composition requirement. However, we recognize that some incoming students can effectively and gracefully communicate their ideas in writing and both understand and can apply the standard conventions of formal written English.

All students demonstrate their ability on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing portion of the SAT: students who earn a 650 or above on this portion of the SAT (or an equivalent score on the ACT) demonstrate that they both understand and can apply the standard conventions of formal written English and have the knowledge to effectively communicate their ideas in writing.  They will be placed into ENGCMP 0006 Composition 2 and have no requirement to take ENGCMP 0005 Composition 1.

A score below 650 will be placed into ENGCMP 0005: Composition 1

A score greater than 650 will be placed into ENGCMP 0006: Composition 2

*All International Students who have been admitted and are not exempt from the requirement to produce a TOEFL exam score will be required to take an English Writing, Reading, and Speaking exam during Orientation. Depending on their performance on that exam, they will be placed into a composition course appropriate to their ability.  Students whose scores indicate that they will benefit from intensive work on their English skills in writing, reading, listening, or speaking will be placed in a course sequence that will provide them with the opportunity to focus on developing their language skills so that they have the writing, reading, and speaking skills to succeed and excel at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown; this may include additional courses that prepare them for required foundational courses in English Composition and Public Speaking.

Placement in Foreign Language

Generally, students who wish to take either Spanish or French will be placed according the following chart:

Experience in Foreign Language Spanish French

Studied Foreign Language from 0 to 3 years  in High School

Spanish 0101 

Elementary Spanish I


Spanish 0102

Elementary Spanish 2


FR 0101

Elementary French


FR 0102

Elementary French 2


Studied Foreign Language for 4 or more years 

Spanish 021: Intermediate Spanish 1


Spanish 0212

Intermediate Spanish 2

FR 0211

Intermediate French 1


FR 0212

Intermediate French 2

*Heritage Language Speakers 

Advanced Spanish courses Advanced French courses

Students wishing to demonstrate their language skills in French and/or in Spanish should contact the Humanities Division ( to schedule to take the appropriate foreign language placement exam.

Foreign Language placement exams during the academic year are scheduled by appointment.

Exams are coordinated by either Professor Barbara Petrosky (French) or Professor Alvaro Bernal (Spanish).

Our placement exam serves as a measure of each student’s current knowledge of either French or Spanish; however, we recognize that sometimes students learn the nuances of a language best by engaging in coursework that reinforces and clarifies the many a languages’ distinctions. Therefore, students who have taken the placement exam may either enroll in the foreign language course that our placement exam indicates is appropriate, given their demonstrated knowledge, or they may enroll in a foreign language course one level below the course that the placement test indicates as appropriate.

This will allow us to place respective students in the appropriate level French or Spanish course.