ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

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?

[Sec. 7] You must have paper and pencil when taking an assessment in ALEKS. For Prep for General Chemistry, a simple calculator is permitted. A basic calculator may be provided for some questions. No help whatsoever is permitted, not even rephrasing a problem.

Cheating is not an issue, since each student is given different problem-types in different sequences. Even if, by chance, two students sitting next to one another were to get the same problem-type at the same time, the actual problems would almost certainly have different numerical values and require different answers.

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?
[Sec. 6.4] 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?

[Sec. 6.3] 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 else. 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?

[Sec. 6.4] 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 understand it.

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 do I need to take the Tutorial to use ALEKS?
[Sec. 5] The Tutorial is a brief interactive training program that teaches you to use the ALEKS input tools, or "Answer Editor." ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. It almost always requires that answers be given in the form of complete expressions. 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 symbols and to create forms for chemical expressions.

How do I get help on using ALEKS?
[Sec. 6.5] You can get help using the Answer Editor by clicking the "Help" button on the ALEKS menu bar.

Can my instructor or friend help me (or can I use a calculator) in the Learning Mode?

[Sec. 7] 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?

[Sec. 6.5] Underlined words in the Learning Mode are links to the online ALEKSpedia. You can click on any hyperlinked word to see its definition. You can also access the ALEKSpedia by clicking the "ALEKSpedia" button on the ALEKS menu bar. The ALEKSpedia is not available during assessment.

Note that the ALEKSpedia 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?
[Sec. 7] 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?
[Sec. 4.1] You can change your Password by clicking your name in the upper right corner of your screen and selecting the "Account Settings" option, followed by the "Edit" link.

How can I review material I have already worked on?
[Sec. 6.5] 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?
[Sec. 6.5] 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?
[Sec. 8] 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)?
[Sec. 8] 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 your name (top right) and select "Log out" 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, please contact your instructor. Your instructor 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, please contact your instructor.

How do I extend or renew my ALEKS account?
You will need to purchase a 20-character Student Access Code to renew your registration (this can be done online at the time of renewal). When your account expires, you will be unable to access your account; instead, you will get a message indicating that the account has expired. On this page, click on the left-hand button. (Do not use the right-hand button.) Enter the 10-character Class Code and other information as prompted. You will now be able to continue using your ALEKS account.