Precalculus Proficiency Assessment

IMPORTANT: For all questions about PPA or ALEKS PPL, e-mail us. Our office staff cannot assist with individual questions over the phone. 


About the PPA
(information TBA, due to CV19)

The Precalculus Proficiency Assessment (PPA), formerly known as the Calculus Placement Exam, is one way that students may show readiness for advanced mathematics courses.

SJSU's PPA is conducted through ALEKS PPL, an adaptive online program to map student's abilities through assessments and knowledge checks. ALEKS PPL can be taken year-round, by student request, but results may only be applied to the upcoming semester.

The test has three steps, the first two of which must be done on your own before you test. 

The three steps of the PPA are:
Step 1: Initial Assessment (30 questions, done on your own. This is NOT the official test.)
Step 2: Prep and Learning Module (individualized, self-paced online review, with up to 2 practice assessments)
Step 3: Proctored Assessment (Administered in-person by the SJSU Testing Office, may be attempted twice.)

  • NOTE: ALEKS will show five assessments total. The first is your initial assessment. The second is for you to use as a practice test. The third is a proctored assessment, which is done in-person only, and counts as your official PPA score. The fourth and fifth are only used if you opt to retake the test for a higher score. The fourth will be practice, and the fifth your proctored retest. Only 1 retake is allowed, no exceptions.

Who needs to take the PPA? How do I begin?

Depending on your major course of study, some students may need to take the PPA if there are no other qualifying scores or coursework in your record. You may also opt to take the PPA even if you are waiting on other transcripts and/or test scores to arrive, to ensure that you will be able to enroll in classes. Consult your admissions advisor for more information. Some students will be notified via MySJSU messaging.

To begin: e-mail us to request a class code for ALEKS PPL. You will need the code to register. In your e-mail, include your full name and SJSU ID number. Allow 3-5 business days for processing before we reply.

Once you have a class code, go to the ALEKS website to register an account. (ALEKS charges $20 for each student license.)

Log in to your account to complete the Initial Placement Assessment on your own. After you receive your score, spend time in the Prep and Learning Module to review missed topics. Check your progress by completing another practice assessment.

When you have finished, you are ready to complete the PPA by doing a Proctored Assessment in-person at our office. Proctored assessments are done by appointment only, and must be completed no later than 3 business days prior to your Sparta Camp Orientation.

PPA Proctoring Appointment Dates/Times

Students may schedule an appointment to take the PPA Proctored Assessment via e-mail. Include your name, SJSU ID number, a contact phone number, and your desired date/time. Available days/times are Monday through Friday, at either 9:00am, 11:30am, or 2:00pm.

Depending on your Sparta Camp Orientation Session date, recommended dates are:

  • Session 1: Schedule your PPA between May 25 - June 5, 2020
  • Session 2: Schedule your PPA between June 1 - June 12, 2020
  • Session 3: Schedule your PPA between June 8 - June 19, 2020
  • Session 4: Schedule your PPA between June 12 - June 26, 2020
  • Session 5: Schedule your PPA between June 22 - July 3, 2020
  • Session 6: Schedule your PPA between June 29 - July 10, 2020
  • Session 7: Schedule your PPA between July 6 - July 24, 2020
  • Session 8: Schedule your PPA between July 20 - July 31, 2020

On days when Sparta Camp is hosted, the 9:00 session is reserved for Sparta Camp testers only. No walk-ins are admitted. We may not be able to accommodate last-minute requests.

If you live more than 50 miles away from SJSU, off-campus testing arrangements are possible. (See Special Circumstances below; requests due no later than July 31, 2020.)

Day of the Test

Plan to arrive at least 20-30 minutes early to allow for traffic, parking, and time to walk to our building. When you arrive for your test, present a current photo ID. A fee of $20 will be collected. Cash or check only. Checks payable to SJSU. If cash, exact change only, please.

We will NOT be able to open a proctored assessment for you if a learning module or practice test is in progress. Please make sure to complete it at home before you arrive.


After the Test / Retake Policy

Your score will 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.

Recommended enrollment based on PPA score:

The PPA may be retaken once for a higher score. There is a 3-day cooldown before the test may be attempted again. During this time, review missed topics in the Prep and Learning module, and then do another practice test to check your progress. When you are ready, contact our office to schedule another appointment. Retakes are also $20.

You may only apply your PPA results towards enrollment in the upcoming semester only. Future placement will be decided by the grade in that math course whenever applicable. Once the semester has started, if you are not enrolled in a math course, your license will expire and you will need to repeat the entire PPA again to qualify for a future term.


Special Circumstances

  • I usually test with accommodations.
    If you receive disability-related accommodations, you must contact the SJSU Accessible Education Center (AEC) to arrange accommodations at least one month prior to testing.

  • I live too far to test on-campus at SJSU.
    If you live more than 50 miles away from SJSU, you may request to have your Proctored Assessment administered at another CSU test center, or at a college/university test center in your area. Additional fees apply, but it may be a more affordable option for students who might otherwise need to book travel arrangements. Click here for more information. (Requests due no later than July 31, 2019)

  • I need to reschedule my PPA Proctored Assessment appointment.
    E-mail us to reschedule your PPA to another date/time. In your e-mail, include your full name, SJSU ID number, and the date/time that you would like to be rescheduled to.