Calculus Placement Exam

IMPORTANT: For all questions regarding the Calculus Placement Exam or ALEKS PPL, please e-mail us. Our staff cannot answer individual questions over the phone. 

In your e-mail, please include your full name, SJSU ID number, your major, and whether you are a returning student, incoming freshman, or incoming transfer student.

Due to high volume, please allow 2-3 business days for e-mail responses.


About the CPE

If you are in a major that requires calculus or advanced mathematics, you may be asked to take the Calculus Placement Exam (CPE) to demonstrate readiness first. The Calculus Placement Exam at SJSU is conducted through ALEKS PPL, an adaptive online program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student's strengths and weaknesses.

ALEKS PPL can be taken year-round; however, students will need to plan ahead to allow time to complete all 3 parts at least 3-5 business days before you register for classes. We strongly recommend that you begin the process at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time. 

The test consists of 3 parts:
1. Initial Assessment (30 questions, done on your own)
2. Prep and Learning Module (individualized, self-paced online review, with up to 2 practice tests)
3. Access to up to 2 Proctored Placement Assessments (proctored by the SJSU Testing Office)

NOTE: The Initial Assessment is NOT the CPE. It is used to recommend study modules for you.
Only results from the in-person, proctored Placement Assessments are counted as your CPE.

ALEKS will display a total of 5 assessments.

  • The first is your initial assessment. (unofficial)
  • The second is an unproctored practice test. (optional, but encouraged)
  • The third is a proctored placement assessment. (in person only, OFFICIAL CPE SCORE)
  • The fourth and fifth are not used unless you opt to retake the test for a higher score. If you do, the fourth will be practice, and the fifth your proctored retest. Only 1 retake is allowed, no exceptions.

How to Begin

Some students may receive a MySJSU message with information on how to get started.

If you did not and need to take the CPE, please e-mail our office to request an access code. In your e-mail, please include your name, SJSU ID number, major, and indicate whether you are an incoming freshman, transfer student, or current SJSU student.

Once you have an access code, you can register on the ALEKS website. You'll begin on their own by completing the Initial Placement Assessment.

After you finish the Initial Placement Assessment, use the Prep and Learning Module to help refresh knowledge on forgotten topics. We encourage students to spend time in the Prep and Learning Module; time spent in ALEKS will ultimately lead to better preparation and improved grades on both the placement assessment and in math classes.

You may use the second assessment as a practice test, completed on your own.

If you score 80 or higher on the Initial Placement Assessment, you may move on to schedule the proctored assessment right away. If you score 79 or below, there is a 3-day cooldown period before you can take the proctored assessment, during which time you should use the study modules and practice test in ALEKS to help you prepare.


Taking the Proctored Assessment

It is to your advantage to complete the proctored assessment prior to attending Sparta Camp. We offer options for you to take the test during the week on-campus, and also near your home area if you live far away. Plan ahead!

If you are unable to complete the test prior to Sparta Camp, we will offer the test on the morning of your Sparta Camp (prior to your check-in time) on a space-available basis; however, you must inform us 2+ business days ahead of time. No walk-ins will be admitted, and we may not be able to accommodate last-minute requests. If there is insufficient space to test you on the first day of your Sparta Camp, you may test after your session ends on the second day, or we can work with you to test at another time either on-campus, or at a test center closer to your home area.

To schedule a proctored assessment with us, e-mail the Testing Office. Include your full name, SJSU ID number, your major, and two preferred dates/times for a test appointment. Appointments are available Monday through Friday at either 9:00am, 11:30am, or 2:00pm. On days when Sparta Camp is hosted, the morning session will be reserved for Sparta Camp testers only.

Upon arrival, present a current photo ID. A fee of $20 will be collected. Cash or check only. Checks may be made payable to SJSU. If cash, exact change only, please.

If you live more than 50 miles away from SJSU, you may have your Proctored Assessment administered at another CSU test center, or at a college/university test center in your area. Click here for more information. (Requests due no later than July 31, 2019)


After the Test

Your score will automatically be uploaded at the end of the next business day. The score will be used to recommend the highest possible math course for your major.

You can view your score in MySJSU. In the Academics area of your Student Center, use the dropdown menu and select CSU Campus Page. The score will be there.

For information on minimum score requirements, click here.

You may retake the placement assessment one time. Only the highest score will be counted. There is another 3 day cooldown period between proctored assessments. For best possible scoring, students are encouraged to spend time in the Prep and Learning Module before retaking the placement assessment. E-mail the office when you are ready.

Scores last 2 years. Once you have enrolled into a math course at SJSU, your grade in the course will be used for future eligibility for higher level mathematics coursework.