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Math Placement Exam (MPE)

What is the MPE

  • The Math Placement Exam is a diagnostic tool to determine calculus readiness.
  • It is currently used for placement into Math 160, Calculus with Applications I, and Math 125, Pre-Calculus.


Math Placement Exam is not required. Students may take Math 125 (or 126) to meet the Math 160 prerequisites or Math 105/5 to meet the Math 125 or Math 126 prerequisites instead. 

The Math Placement Exam is strongly recommended for you if you believe you are ready to take a more advanced course than your math category suggests: for example, if you successfully completed precalculus or calculus in high school you may be ready for Math 160 or Math 125.

The following majors are eligible to take the MPE: Applied Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Kinesiology-Option in Motion Science, and Mathematics.

The MPE consists of:

  • The placement exam, (which is an ALEKS PPL Placement Assessment) 
  • Proctoring: Online (remotely through ProctorU) and on-campus testing sessions in the summer of 2022.Only proctored results count towards placement.


Math Placement Exam for Fall 2022 enrollment in:

  • MATH 160 - Calculus with Applications, I
  • MATH 125 - Pre-Calculus
    If you place into MATH 125 but are unable to enroll in in MyCSUSM, please email for assistance.

ALEKS PPL Overview: 

The Math Placement Exam is an ALEKS PPL Placement Assessment. This computer-based test analyzes your understanding of elementary math topics through precalculus using sophisticated artificial intelligence to adjust the questions according to your answers.  

Your ALEKS license includes up to five Placement Assessments:

  • 1, 2, and 4 are intended as practice
  • 3 and 5 are designated as proctored

Take Assessments 1 and 2 as practice on your own. And then schedule Assessment 3 to be proctored to count for placement. 

If you do not pass, work on Assessment 4 as further practice. Then take Assessment 5 proctored.  

Please be aware:

  • Unproctored assessments (1, 2, and 4) each have a 24-hour time limit
  • Proctored assessments (3 and 5) have a 2-hour time limit.  

When you first create your ALEKS PPL account, you will be asked to fill out a short survey, and you will be given a Tools Tutorial on using the ALEKS system. After you complete the Tools Tutorial, it’s recommended that you begin the first Placement Assessment on your own as soon as possible. Keep in mind that the proctored exam will last at most 2 hours and that you may use paper and pen or pencil, but you will need to use the built-in ALEKS calculator 

As soon as you complete the first Placement Assessment, you will be given your score and a recommended course.

  • Math 160 requires a score of 70 or higher on a proctored Assessment. If you score below 70, you will be given recommendations for alternate courses.  
  • Math 125 requires a score of 50-69.

You will also be given access to an ALEKS learning module, Prep for Calculus. This learning module is similar to an online tutoring system, and it focuses on reviewing topics that can help improve your score. (It identifies those topics based on your score on the first Placement Assessment.) The goal is that using this learning module will help you perform better on the subsequent assessments.  

We have seen strong evidence that working the Prep for Calculus module improves student performances, so we require 3 hours of work in the module before beginning Assessment 2 and 5 hours of work between each subsequent Assessment. The Prep for Calculus module is designed to help you improve your score. Many students have underestimated this test’s difficulty as it will likely ask you about the material you know but have forgotten. We want you to have the best chance of placing into Math 160!  

For more information, please consult the FAQ: ALEKS PPL FAQs  

ALEKS PPL Registration and Initial Steps:

NOTE: If you require testing accommodations, please do not register for ALEKS and instead contact us immediately at   

You must use your CSUSM Student ID Number when you register, or your placement results will not count. 
Create your FREE ALEKS account, and take the following steps: 

Register for The "FREE" ALEKS PPL

  1. Fill out the Survey and take the Tools Tutorial. 
  2. When you are ready, take the first Placement Assessment – you will have 24 hours to complete it, but keep in mind the timed exam will have a 2-hour time limit, and the only outside resources you will be able to use is paper and pencil/pen for scratch work.  
  3. Once you complete the first Placement Assessment, you will have access to the Prep for Calculus learning module. You will need to spend at least 3 hours in this module before the second Placement Assessment will be unlocked, although we recommend at least 5 hours. There is also a 24 hour minimum time between Placement Assessments, so don’t try to take them all on the same day!  
  4. Take Placement Assessment 2 on your own. 
  5. Spend at least five additional hours in the Prep for Calculus module. This prep will unlock Placement Assessment 3, which is password-protected. At this point, you should schedule your proctoring appointment to take this Assessment. 


You will have the option to take the MPE online through ProctorU or in-person during the months of July and August 2022. If you decide to take this exam in-person, please register below under "Registration for In-Person Exams:". In person seats are limited, so please register as soon as possible. If you need to cancel your exam registration for in-person testing, please contact

Important: do not schedule your proctoring session with ProctorU until after you have registered for ALEKS PPL and completed Steps 1-5 in the ALEKS Registration above! 

Online proctoring of the exam is being provided by ProctorU for $10 per testing session payable when you schedule your test. To take the test, you will need access to a computer with a webcam capable of running their software. ProctorU monitors your exam by both watching your screen (with a remote desktop connection) and watching you through your webcam to ensure the same restrictions are enforced as would be during an in-person exam.   

ProctorU offers considerable flexibility in scheduling, with exam times starting every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day. Exams can be scheduled through ProctorU from April 4th through the second week of the fall 2022 semester.  

The linked PDF (ProctorU) gives an overview of the scheduling process, and you can also find this information on ProctorU's Website.

Register for Online Proctoring


Register for an In-Person Proctoring Session

 Information for students requiring special accommodations to take the MPE due to a disability is available: MPE DSS