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 (Updated Information during Covid-19)

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 and Assessment 2 (
self-paced online review, 2 practice assessments)
Step 3:Proctored Assessment (Administered online through Respondus Monitor, 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: Freshman students, you will receive a MySJSU message with instructions to access the PPA. Continuing students, e-mail us to request access to the PPA. 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. (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 Proctored PPA Assessment, which will be conducted using Respondus Monitor.

Setting Up Your PPA Proctoring Appointment

Students must take the Proctored PPA Assessment no later than 3 days prior to Sparta Camp Orientation. SJSU charges a $20 fee for the assessment if taken before June 17, $25 if taken after June 17. This fee is separate from the ALEKS licensing fee.

1. Visit CashNet to make the payment for your Proctored PPA Assessment. Save the receipt that you get in your e-mail.

2. E-mail the Testing Office to let us know that you are ready to complete the Proctored PPA Assessment. In your e-mail, please include your name, SJSU ID number, a contact phone number, and a screenshot of your complete CashNet receipt. (Allow 1-2 business days for processing)

Depending on your Sparta Camp Orientation Session date, we recommended scheduling your Proctored PPA Assessment within the following date range:

  • 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


Day of the Test

For scores to be accepted by SJSU, you MUST have all of the following BEFORE you take your Proctored PPA Assessment:

1. Clear recognizable US State or Federal Issued ID or foreign passport.

2. Make sure any unproctored assessments that you have started are completed. The proctored assessment will NOT open if you have another assessment in progress.

3. Be prepared to complete the assessment WITHOUT any breaks. Use the restroom before you begin. Breaks are not allowed unless provided through accommodations by SJSU's Accessible Education Center in advance.

4. Follow all instructions given in the ALEKS PPL assessment.

The following items are NOT allowed during the assessment and will invalidate your score:

1. No electronic devices, including calculators, smart watches, fitness trackers, cell phones, tablets, etc. EXCEPT for the laptop or computer that you are using for the assessment.

2. Do not wear hats, hoods, masks and/or any other face coverings. You also cannot obscure the face, in any way, at any time during the proctored assessment.

3. No books, note cards, notepads, or any other publications or papers at any time.

4. No other items specifically prohibited by ALEKS PPL.

If you run into any issues, e-mail the Testing Office as soon as possible.


After the Test / Retake Policy

Your score will be uploaded at the end of third 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.

PPA results may ONLY be applied towards enrollment in the upcoming semester. 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 usually test with religious accommodations.
    If you receive religious accommodations, you must contact the SJSU Testing Office to arrange accommodations at least two weeks prior to testing.