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Placement Test

Calculus at TCU

TCU offers two introductory calculus courses:

  • MATH 10283 Applied Calculus, taken primarily by students who plan to major in Business.
  • MATH 10524 Calculus I, taken primarily by students who plan to major in math, science, or and engineering.

For general information about prerequisites for these courses or how to earn credit for them based on standardized test scores, please visit our general Credit and Placement webpage.

To determine which course is best for you, please consider the requirements for your planned major and consult with your academic advisors.

Note: Students may not receive credit for both Math 10283 and Math 10524.

The Calculus Placement Test

TCU uses ALEKS Placement Assessment to optimize the placement of students into calculus courses. ALEKS is an adaptive assessment tool to help you determine the course where you will have the best chance of success. ALEKS also offers a guided learning program to help you improve your math skills and potentially improve your score. The assessment is an adaptive format that does not use multiple choice questions; students may find the experience substantially different from many standardized examinations.

Who should take the Calculus Placement Test?

You should take the Calculus placement test if one of the following is true:

  • You wish to take MATH 10283 Applied Calculus or MATH 10524 Calculus I and do not meet the other prerequisites.
  • You do not feel that your AP or SAT/ACT test scores reflect your preparedness.
  • Your test scores or transcripts have not yet been processed by TCU and you do not want to wait to enroll.

If you do not feel that you are prepared for a calculus course, you may simply register for the corresponding prerequisite precalculus course.

Important note: If you have taken a precalculus course at TCU (MATH 10273 or MATH 10054) and earned a grade below a C-, you will not be permitted to place into the corresponding calculus course (Math 10283 or Math 10524) via the Calculus Placement Test. In this case you must retake the precalculus course at TCU, or take an equivalent transfer course, and earn at least a C- to enroll in the calculus course.

When to take the Calculus Placement Test

  • First-year incoming students who need to take the placement test should obtain an ALEKS score prior to Orientation. To achieve this, you should take your first placement test at least one week before your Orientation.
  • Transfer and continuing students should obtain an ALEKS score prior to the time you want to register for a calculus course.
  • Calculus and Precalculus class availability is not guaranteed, so make sure to take the placement test early to be in the best position to register for the class you need.

Summary of Steps for the Calculus Placement Test

  1. Go to and select “Sign Up.”
  2. Enter the 10-character course code for Fall 2024 placement: YWV4H-UWFMM and confirm.
  3. Make an ALEKS account or login to a pre-existing one.
  4. You will be prompted to enter your TCU email and TCU ID number.
  5. Purchase the access code for $20 + tax. Credit cards, PayPal, and Venmo are accepted.
  6. You will be instructed to download the ALEKS plug-in when you log in to take the exam.
  7. ALEKS will begin with a brief tutorial before your placement begins.
  8. Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment (read the information below). After you complete the assessment, you will be presented with a pie chart showing your areas of strength and weakness. Your overall assessment score appears at the top of the page.
    • If your score is 76 or more, you may enroll in Math 10524 Calculus I.
    • If your score is 61 or more, you may enroll in Math 10283 Applied Calculus.
    • If your score is a 60 or less, you may enroll in the appropriate prerequisite precalculus course (MATH 10273 or MATH 10054).
    • If your score is 45 or less, you may enroll in a precalculus course. However, you should continue to work in the Prep and Learning Modules prior to the start of the semester to best prepare yourself for success.
  9. If your score does not place you into the desired calculus course, you may:
    • Progress through the ALEKS Prep and Learning Modules for at least three hours to review deficit areas identified by the first assessment.
    • Take the ALEKS Placement Assessment again after at least 48 hours. Your second attempt score will be final.

Overview of the Calculus Placement Test

  • This assessment is to be completed by you alone. To ensure an accurate assessment of your current precalculus skills, no one else should be in the room with you, and you should not seek outside assistance.
  • You will have up to three hours to complete the assessment. You cannot save your place and return later, but it should take most students about 90 minutes and be around 30 questions. The exact number of questions will vary due to the adaptive mechanism.
  • All students will be presented with Trigonometry questions during the assessment. Students planning to take MATH 10283 Applied Calculus will not be expected to know Trigonometry: the required minimum scores reflect this. However, if you have knowledge in the area, please feel free to answer these questions during the assessment.
  • There are computer system requirements listed below that you should review.
  • If you’re unsure how to input an answer, or need help while taking the assessment, click the Help button. Using this will not impact your results.
  • If you are having technical difficulties using the ALEKS system, please contact ALEKS support. The Math Department will not be able to help with ALEKS system issues.
  • Once complete, your math assessment score will be displayed in the ALEKS system.

Please allow two business days after taking the assessment for your score to be usable for registration.

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Topics covered on the Calculus Placement Test

  • Whole numbers, fractions, and decimals
  • Percentages and proportions
  • Basic 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 zero points here and still place into MATH 10283

Test-Taking Tips

  • It is likely that you will be asked questions on material you have not yet learned. On such questions it is appropriate to answer, "I don't know."
  • However, on any question that you have familiarity with, it is important to do your best. "I don't know" is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that you do not know the topic, and this will be reflected in the assessment results.
  • Be honest about your skill level. There is no benefit to cheating on the placement assessment, which could result in you being placed into a math class for which you do not yet have the skills to succeed.
  • While you are taking the assessment, do not consult any other source for help (friends, family, internet, etc.). The purpose of the placement assessment is to give an accurate measure of your current precalculus skills so that you will be successful in your math courses.

The Prep and Learning Modules

  • With your ALEKS access, you get 12 months of access to the Prep and Learning modules.
  • Modules are assigned based on your first assessment score and are available immediately after taking the first attempt.
  • You are required to work on areas identified for review for at least 3 hours prior to taking the placement test a second time.
  • While working in a Prep and Learning Module, you will periodically complete progress assessments to solidify your gains in knowledge.
  • Work in the modules is not used for math placement; calculus placement is based only on the assessment test.

Disability Accommodations

Students approved by TCU for disability accommodations may be given extra time and other appropriate services. To obtain such accommodations:

  • You must self-identify and request testing accommodations from TCU Student Access and Accommodations ( ) BEFORE working in the placement test system.
  • After receiving verification of accommodations from Student Access and Accommodations, you must email (from your TCU email address and including your full name and TCU ID#) to request accommodations. You should allow up to 7 days to process this request. Once verified, you will be provided directions and a specialized link to the placement test.

Paying for ALEKS

  • ALEKS costs $20 plus tax.
  • You pay online through ALEKS. Your payment covers two total test attempts plus access to the Prep and Learning modules for twelve months.

Can I retake the ALEKS Placement Assessment?

You must wait 48 hours between placement assessments. You will be required to spend at least three hours in the Prep and Learning Module to refresh material you may have forgotten or to learn new material.

How long do I have to finish ALEKS?

You should finish within one week of your orientation session. Calculus and Precalculus class availability is not guaranteed, and we want you to be in the best position to register for the class you need.

Are ALEKS Placement Assessments proctored?

Not at this time. You may take it at home.

Are placement assessments timed?

Yes. You have 3 hours to complete an the ALEKS placement assessment once it's begun.

How long will a placement assessment take to complete?

ALEKS placement assessments require approximately 90 minutes to complete, but the amount of time will vary by student. There will be a maximum of 30 questions.

May I use a calculator or other resources while using ALEKS?

ALEKS will provide an on-screen calculator if you need one to complete a particular problem. Otherwise, you may not use a calculator. You may only use a pen or pencil, paper, and the resources provided by ALEKS. You may not receive assistance from friends, family, other websites, textbooks, or any other resource not provided by ALEKS. Using outside resources may lead to improper placement and ultimately course failure.

What happens if I do not complete a placement assessment in the allotted time?

This will count as your first attempt. You will have a second attempt available after at least 48 hours and 3 hours spent progressing through the Learning Modules.

I just finished ALEKS and have received my assessment score. Why can't I register for the appropriate class?

It can take up to two business days for scores to be processed by TCU. If it has been more than two business days since earning a score, please check with your advisor for any other registration issues.

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

  • If you did not receive the minimum score on the first attempt for the desired calculus course, use the knowledge profile to identify areas of needed review. You may retake the assessment test after 48 hours and at least 3 hours spent in the Prep and Learning modules.
  • Even if you did receive the desired minimum score on the first attempt, you may find it helpful to review materials that the assessment identified as a knowledge weakness. Remember, university-level calculus courses are challenging with a demanding pace. Professors expect students to have a thorough knowledge of prerequisite material.
  • If you receive a score below 46 on the ALEKS Placement Assessment, you will be able to register for a precalculus course (MATH 10273 or MATH 10054), however, you should continue to work in the Prep and Learning Modules prior to the start of the semester to best prepare yourself for success.

How can I contact ALEKS technical support?

If you have any trouble downloading the ALEKS plug-in or other issues, go to for business hours, email, phone number, and live chat options. Unfortunately, the TCU Math Department will not be able to help you with such issues.

What if I have questions for the TCU Math Department?

If you have questions, please contact Ms. Laura Leckman in the Department of Mathematics or call 817-257-7335. Please note that we can answer placement and policy questions, but we cannot provide technical support for the ALEKS platform.