Enrollment Advice for Entering Students

Placement Exam

The JMU Math Placement Assessment uses the McGraw-Hill ALEKS Math Assessment to ensure student readiness for JMU mathematics courses. ALEKS is capable to assessing students’ knowledge on 314 mathematical topics.

What to expect:

  • The ALEKS Assessment is about 30 questions.
  • The questions must be answered in order.
  • Allow up to 3 hours to complete the Assessment, though the Assessment usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes.
  • Complete the Assessment in one sitting.
  • You can view your score as soon as you have completed the Assessment.

Assessment content:

  • The ALEKS Assessment is capable of covering topics from first year high school algebra through precalculus.
  • The Assessment is adaptive and chooses each question on the basis of a student's answers to all the previous questions. It is very unlikely any two students will see the same questions.
  • There is a good chance you will be asked questions on material you have not yet learned. On such questions it is appropriate to answer, "I don't know".
  • If you are familiar with the content of a question, it is important to make an attempt and submit an answer. "I don't know" is interpreted by ALEKS to mean that you do not know the topic, and this will be reflected in the assessment results. Try your best to solve any problems that you think you might be able to solve. It is better to answer incorrectly on a topic that you have seen before, than to use the "I don't know" button and then skip related topics.


  • You may take the ALEKS Assessment up to three times total, but any retakes must be completed within one year of the first time you take the Assessment.
  • You must wait at least 48 hours before retaking the Assessment.
  • After you have taken the Assessment, you will have access to improve your knowledge using a Review Module. You need to complete this Review Module if you want to retake the Assessment.
  • You are encouraged to retake the Assessment if you are not happy with your score.

When to Enroll in Math Courses

Calculus (and algebra, and precalculus): Students planning to take courses in the algebra-precalculus-calculus stream (MATH 155-205-231-235) should begin during the first semester if at all possible, as these courses are the most dependent on the typical high school curriculum and it is best to continue while this content is most familiar. For majors requiring both a course in calculus and MATH 220, it is usually best to enroll in the calculus course first.

General education Cluster 3: Enrollment in MATH 103 is not critical during the first or second semester, but excessive delays after HS mathematics can cause difficulties.

Future teachers: Education majors should generally enroll in MATH 107 in the first semester, but students considering other majors in addition to education could postpone MATH 107 until the second semester if other mathematics courses are needed for that major. 

Ideal timing for MATH 220 Enrollment

Elementary Statistics: Placement into MATH 220 is dependent on high school algebra experience. Students whose placement score requires MATH 105 preceeding MATH 220 should take MATH 105 as early as possible. It is recommended that students placed into GWRIT 101 should postpone MATH 220 until a later semester.

For most majors, it is not crucial that students begin statistics in the first semester.  Nevertheless, excessive delays should be avoided and students should enroll in MATH 220 sufficiently early so that it will provide the most benefit for other portions of their programs.  See the list below.

Intended Major Timing for MATH 220
Economics Prior to Econ 385
Health Science Prior to Bio 270
Nursing Freshman year as recommended by nursing advising
Kinesiology (220 recommended) Freshman (2nd semester) or sophomore year
Psychology Freshman year; first semester if recommended by advisor
Political Science The semester prior to POSC 295
Speech Communication Prior to SCOM research methods (280)
Social Work Semester or year prior to SOWK 305
Business Students should take COB 191, but may substitute MATH 220 if this is required for a double major; COB 191 should be taken during freshman year

Math Courses for Entering Students
  • MATH 103. The Nature of Mathematics. 3 credits.
    Primarily for students desiring no more than one mathematics course at JMU and whose major program has no mathematics requirement.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1.
  • MATH 105. Quantitative Literacy and Reasoning. 3 credits.
    Prerequisite for MATH 220 for students with ALEKS placement score 45 or below.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1.
  • MATH 107 Fundamentals of Mathematics I. 3 credits.
    For IDLS majors and others interested in K-8 Education. This is the beginning of the 3-course IDLS core. Note that IDLS majors with a strong mathematics background may begin in MATH 235 and substitute this for part of the core, but will eventually need MATH 107.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track II.
  • MATH 155. Functions and Probability. 3 credits.
    Algebra review, required for lower placement scores before taking MATH 205, 231, and 235.
    GENED: NO.
  • MATH 199. Algebra/Precalculus Gateway. 1 credit.
    A co-requisite with MATH 205 or MATH 231 for students who wish to start calculus but need a review of fundamental mathematics. Students whose schedules prevent their attending the proctored tests on Friday evenings should register for MATH 155.
  • MATH 205. Introductory Calculus. 3 credits.
    A terminal calculus course (does not lead to more advanced mathematics classes). Acceptable for College of Business and some other majors.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1.
  • MATH 220. Elementary Statistics. 3 credits.
    Required or recommended for several major and professional programs. Psychology majors should enroll in 1st semester freshman year if possible. Others should wait until a later semester.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1.
  • MATH 235 Calculus I. 4 credits.
    Beginning calculus sequence for students with good algebra background. Prerequisite for many later following mathematics courses. Required or recommended for several major and professional programs. Biology majors complete their calculus requirement with either 235 or 231-232.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1.
  • MATH 231-232 Calculus with Functions I-II. 3 credits each.
    The content of MATH 235 integrated with algebra/trigonometry review. Students completing mathematics 231-232 may proceed to MATH 236.
    GENED: Cluster 3 Track I Group 1 (MATH 231).


If you have questions about freshman advising please contact Dr. David Duncan.

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