The new osu math placement exam jeremy penn ph d director university assessment and testing
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The New OSU Math Placement Exam Jeremy Penn , Ph.D. Director, University Assessment and Testing. Improve student success by placing students in the math course that is the best match for their abilities.

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The New OSU Math Placement Exam Jeremy Penn , Ph.D. Director, University Assessment and Testing

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The New OSU Math Placement ExamJeremy Penn, Ph.D.Director, University Assessment and Testing

Improve student success by placing students in the math course that is the best match for their abilities

As students take more and more diverse paths into our courses, correct placement becomes even more important

Correct placement is only one aspect of student success

Why are we moving away from the ACT Math for Placement?


A student has an ACT Math score of 24.

Will he or she be successful in MATH 1513 (college algebra)?

Data from 4 recent semesters:

287 students with ACT Math scores of 24 took MATH 1513

25% of these students earned an ‘A’

33% of these students earned a ‘D,’ ‘F,’ or ‘W’

70% of the students who earned a ‘D,’ ‘F’, or ‘W’ in MATH 1513…

…had an ACT Math score of 19 or higher

  • ● 69% of the students who earned A, B, or C had ACT Math of 22 or higher (would leave out 506 students)

  • ● 42% who earned D, F, or withdraw had ACT Math of 22 or higher (would let in 440 students)

Other Concerns with ACT Math

  • Does not provide detailed diagnostic information

  • ACT Math may not represent the content and methods used in your math courses

    • May be a better fit for some classes than others

  • Many students may not take math as seniors

    • ACT does not offer opportunities to refresh math skills

  • Limited on-demand availability

Committee to Explore Enhancements to Math Education Curriculum

  • Formed by the Provost in fall, 2010

  • Included faculty members from multiple colleges plus representatives from UAS (now LASSO), UAT, and public schools

  • Provided multiple recommendations

  • One recommendation was to improve math placement and provide opportunities for students to refresh their math skills

OSU Math Placement Exam

  • ALEKS (Assessment of LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) vendor selected to provide math placement exam

  • Online, computer-adaptive test

  • Includes diagnostic information in 8 areas

  • Student access to learning modules and multiple retakes

  • Free response format like that used in math classes

  • Used by many other institutions nationally

Topics Covered

  • Real numbers

  • Equations and inequalities

  • Linear and quadratic functions

  • Exponents and polynomials

  • Rational expressions

  • Radical expressions

  • Exponentials and logarithms

  • Geometry and trigonometry

Who should take OSU Math Placement Exam?

  • All incoming freshmen and all new transfer students

    • Incoming students with CLEP / AP / Concurrent enrollment credit should still take the placement exam

  • Continuing students who desire enrollment in the impacted courses who are NOT currently enrolled in one of the impacted courses or its prerequisite

Do I need the exam proctored?

  • Students with ACT Math scores 19 or greater (SAT Math 460 or greater) do NOT need the exam proctored

  • Students with ACT Math scores 18 or lower (SAT Math below 460) MUST take a proctored version of the exam

    • May take an un-proctored practice exam but this WILL NOT COUNT FOR PLACEMENT and will count against the 5 total attempts allowed in an 11-month period

How do I find a proctor?

  • Proctoring for OSU Math Placement (ALEKS) is available for free at the OSU-Stillwater Testing Center

  • Online (distance) proctoring is available for a fee (about $35) from ProctorU (

  • Other options are available

    • Visit

    • Call 405-744-5958

Where can I take this exam?

  • Proctoring not required:

    • Home

    • IT Labs (MSCS 108 (24 hours), CLB 407/408, Kerr-Drummond and Bennett)

    • Check-out laptop (must download ALEKS plug-in)

  • Proctoring required

    • Contact OSU-Stillwater Testing Center

  • Plan for at least 2 hours for the exam

Technical problems

  • Biggest issue from the pilot was using email address instead of username (shortname)

    • Instructions on

  • Students must have JAVA enabled and download and install ALEKS plug-in

    • Try a different computer or one of the IT labs

How much does it cost?

  • Free!

    • (Cost covered by Assessment Fee)

  • Non-OSU-Stillwater proctoring may require a fee

  • More than 6 weeks of access to learning modules requires an additional fee

New Model for Placement: Vertical Integration

  • Alignment between 0-level courses (e.g., 0123), placement mechanism, and 1000-level courses

    • Use the placement exam as a final exam in the 0-level course

    • Alignment of content, response format, and approaches

New Model for Placement: Horizontal Integration

  • Connection to non-math courses that use math knowledge

  • Communication with students from multiple sources (advisors, instructors, assessment office, etc.)

  • Availability and access to scores and diagnostic information

Supporting Student Success

  • Designing other supports around the new placement exam

    • Bridge programs

    • Targeted tutoring

    • Self-study

    • Math Learning Success Center

    • Others

Additional Information

[email protected]

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