9. Frequently Asked Questions
For further information on any of these questions, follow the references
provided to other sections of this guide.
What are the rules for taking an assessment in ALEKS?
You must have paper and pencil when taking an assessment in ALEKS.
A basic calculator should be used
only when you are instructed to do so. A basic calculator may be provided for some questions. No help whatsoever is permitted,
not even rephrasing a problem.
During the assessment, you will not be given feedback about your answers.
The assessment is not a test. Its main purpose is
to determine what you are most ready to learn and help you make the
best possible progress toward mastery.
How do I add concepts to my pie?
You fill in your pie and achieve mastery in the
subject matter by working in the Learning Mode on concepts and skills
that the assessment has determined you are most "ready to learn."
When you master a concept in the Learning Mode by successfully solving
an appropriate number of problems, you will see that your
pie chart has been changed by the addition of that concept. The goal
is to fill the pie in completely.
Why is it that I mastered all the concepts in the Learning Mode, but my
assessment still says I have concepts to learn?
In the Learning Mode, you are always working on one concept at a time,
whereas assessments are cumulative and evaluate you on everything in
the given subject matter. It may be more difficult to show mastery of
concepts you have recently worked on, when you are being quizzed on many
different topics at the same time. For this reason, your assessment
results may not exactly match what you had mastered in the Learning Mode.
This is normal and simply means that you should keep working in
the system. (Sometimes the opposite also occurs, and progress in the
assessment turns out to be faster than in the Learning Mode.)
Why doesn't my pie chart show any concepts from a slice if I haven't
filled in that slice yet?
You are completely "ready to learn" a set of concepts or skills when you
have mastered all the prerequisite concepts or skills for them.
For example, in order to learn
"addition of two-digit numbers with carry" you might have to first learn
"addition of two-digit numbers without carry" and nothing
Your pie chart will not offer you concepts to work on
if you are not ideally ready to begin learning them, that is, if they
have prerequisites you have not yet mastered.
For this reason, your pie chart may show that you have mastered only
8 out of 10 concepts for a particular slice of the pie (a particular
part of the curriculum), but the pie chart says you have no concepts
available from that slice to work on. This means that the concepts left
to master have prerequisites in other areas of the curriculum that you
must master first. Keep working in the other slices, and eventually
the concepts in that slice will "open up."
How can I best use the Learning Mode to help me learn?
In the Learning Mode, you should do your best to solve the problems that
are offered to you. You should not change topics casually or stop before
the system tells you that you are done.
The Learning Mode will always tell you if your answer is correct or not.
In many cases it will provide information on the kind of error you may
have made. You should pay attention to this feedback and be sure to
At the bottom of the Explanation page you have the "Practice" button,
and sometimes other options for more detailed explanations and help.
The Explanation page may also
contain a link or reference to a textbook used with the class. If you click the "Practice" button following an
explanation, you are offered a different problem of the same type, not
the one whose solution was explained. In order to master the concept
and add it to your pie, you must successfully solve a certain number of
practice problems. If you wish to choose a new concept, you can click
the "MyPie" button on the ALEKS menu bar.
You should not use your browser's "Back" and
"Forward" buttons while logged on to ALEKS. Doing so will not
help you make progress and may cause temporary software errors.
Keep in mind that ALEKS is always giving you material
that, in its estimation, you are ideally ready to learn. It does
not offer material you have already mastered, except in the
Review mode. To go back to concepts you have already worked
on, click the "Review" button on the ALEKS menu bar.
How does ALEKS create problems?
ALEKS creates problems in both Assessment and Learning Mode by means of
computer algorithms, based on the definition of a particular concept
or skill to be mastered. Thus, a particular concept or problem-type
may serve as the basis for a very large number of specific problems,
each with different numerical values and sometimes (as in application
problems) differing in other ways as well.
Why is ALEKS giving me a new assessment?
New assessments may be prompted automatically by ALEKS when
you have spent sufficient time in the Learning Mode or when
you have made adequate progress.
Your teacher may also
request an assessment for you personally, or for everyone in the class.
In this case it may be stipulated that the assessment must be taken
at school. (If you attempt to work at home when an assessment has been
ordered to be done at school, ALEKS will deny access and tell you
that you need to log on from school.)
Why do I need to take the Tutorial to use ALEKS?
The Tutorial is a brief interactive training program that teaches
you to use the ALEKS input tools, or "Answer Editor."
ALEKS requires that
answers be given in the form of numbers, mathematical expressions and
geometrical and other constructions.
The Answer Editor is a flexible set of tools enabling you
to provide such answers. Although the Answer Editor is easy to use,
the Tutorial will make sure you are completely proficient with it
before beginning the ALEKS system. The Tutorial guides you
through every step of learning to use the Answer Editor.
What can I do if I make a mistake entering an answer?
If you make an error entering an answer with the Answer
Editor, you should click on "Undo" to go back one step, or on
"Clear" to start over. You can also use the "Backspace" key on
your keyboard in the usual way.
NOTE. You cannot use "Undo" or the "Back" button on
your browser to go back if you have submitted an answer by clicking
on "Next." If you realize that the answer you submitted
is incorrect, don't be concerned; the system will most likely
recognize this as a careless error based on your other answers and
make allowances for it.
What are the icon buttons for?
They are used to enter mathematical
symbols and to create forms for mathematical expressions. In some cases
the keyboard equivalents for icon buttons can be used.
How do I get help on using ALEKS?
You can get help using the Answer Editor by clicking the "Help" button
on the ALEKS menu bar.
Can my teacher or friend help me (or can I use a calculator) in the
Help and collaboration are allowed in the Learning Mode. Keep in mind,
however, that if you get too much help, the system will
start giving you problems that you are not prepared to solve.
You need paper and pencil for the Learning Mode, just as you did for
the assessment. ALEKS provides a calculator when appropriate; when
the Calculator button is active, the use of the calculator is permitted.
Why are some of the words I see hyperlinked?
Underlined words in the Learning Mode are links to the online
Dictionary. You can click on any hyperlinked word to see its
definition. You can also access the Dictionary by clicking the
"Dictionary" button on the ALEKS menu bar. The Dictionary
is not available during assessment.
Note that the Dictionary is opened in a new window. When
you are finished reading the definition, you can close
or minimize the window, and you will see the previous screen.
What is the "Ask a Friend" button for?
The "Ask a Friend" button sometimes appears when you are having
difficulty with a particular concept. When you click on the button,
the system suggests the name of a classmate who has recently mastered
the concept and may be able to help you.
How can I change my Password?
You can change your Password by clicking the "Options" button on the
ALEKS menu bar.
How can I review material I have already worked on?
You can click on the "Review" button to work on material you have
already spent time on.
How can I choose a new topic to work on?
To see your current pie chart and choose a new concept in the Learning
Mode, click on "MyPie" (on the ALEKS menu bar), move your pointer
over the pie, and choose a new concept from one of the slices.
How can I print something in ALEKS?
To print the contents of the screen, you can click on the "Print"
icon in the upper part of the ALEKS window. This produces a new,
printable window (the ALEKS display is not normally printable).
Depending on your browser, you may also have to click the browser's
"Print" button. When you are done, you can close the new window.
What should I do if it's taking too long for a new page to load (or if
the program freezes)?
It shouldn't take more than a few seconds for ALEKS to respond when
you click on any button. If you experience delay, freezing, or crashing,
you can click your browser's "Reload" or "Refresh" button. If this
doesn't work, you can close your browser and restart it. In extreme
cases, use Ctrl-Alt-Delete (Cmd-Opt-Esc on Macintosh) and end the task.
You will come back to the exact place you left off when you log back
on to ALEKS.
How do I exit the ALEKS program?
To leave ALEKS, you can click the "Exit" button on the
ALEKS menu bar or simply close your browser.
ALEKS always remembers where you left off.
What if I have a question or problem using ALEKS?
If you have a question or problem using ALEKS that is not answered
here, contact your teacher.
Your teacher has been provided
with extensive information on the operation of ALEKS and should be
able to answer most questions you may have.
What if I forget my Login Name or Password?
If you forget your Login Name or Password, you can use the link on the
ALEKS home page marked "Forgot your login info?" If you entered
an email address at registration time, a link to reset your password
will be sent to you by email. Otherwise, contact