Scheduling General Education Quantification Courses

As part of General Education, all Penn State baccalaureate degree programs require a minimum of six credits in quantification skills; associate degree programs require a minimum of three credits. General Education quantification courses have the suffix "GQ." GQ courses are available in mathematics, statistics, computer science, and philosophy (symbolic logic).

When choosing GQ courses, a student should consider his/her interests, background in mathematics, the focus of majors being considered, and his/her mathematics assessment.

The selection of quantification courses will have a direct impact on a student's academic opportunities. Decisions should be made in consultation with an academic adviser.

Assessment and Preparation

Beginning spring 2014, new first-year students and provisional students participate in a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system called ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). ALEKS is part of New Student Orientation and is used to determine placement in a calculus course or in an algebra or trigonometry course needed to prepare for other GQ courses (as well as CHEM 110).

Penn State's ALEKS Math Assessment website provides detailed information about the program, including information that is important for academic advisers:

Who Should Use ALEKS provides information about assessment for students who did not participate in NSO.

Score Report

Students and academic advisers can see a student's most recent score in eLion in the Placement Test application. Understand Your Score on the ALEKS Math Assessment site provides a guide to the courses a student might take based on his/her score.

Prep & Learning Modules

After their assessment, students are able to see their results and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Students then have the option of engaging in Prep & Learning modules to build skills, retest to improve their score, and potentially bypass courses. Improve your score on the ALEKS Math Assessment site provides instructions for using the Prep & Learning modules and retesting.

Demonstrating Readiness for Calculus and Calculus-Sequence Courses

Students who schedule calculus (MATH 110/140) or a calculus-sequence course (MATH 021,022, 026, 040, 041) must demonstrate readiness. The Department of Mathematics at all campuses will disenroll students from these courses if they have not demonstrated readiness. Contact the Department of Mathematics for details on this policy.

The ALEKS Course Placement Scores chart provides the minimum scores needed to schedule MATH 001, 003, 004, 021, 022, 026, 040, 041, 110, and 140; STAT 200, 240, and 250; and CHEM 110. Students can demonstrate readiness for these courses in the following ways:

  1.  Earning an ALEKS assessment score equal to or greater than the minimum score required for the course.
  2. Earning credit in the prerequisite Penn State course.
  3. Transferring a course evaluated as specific credit in the prerequisite math course or earning credit in other ways (e.g. AP). IMPORTANT: Although these credits override an ALEKS score, students should carefully assess the risks in using these credits to satisfy a prerequisite if their ALEKS score indicates a weakness. (Credits earned in these ways can be repeated in a Penn State course if a student is seeking a more solid foundation.) Transfer math courses evaluated as general credits cannot be used to demonstrate readiness.

If you have questions that are not addressed above or on Penn State's ALEKS website, write to aleksadvising@psu.edu.

Selecting Appropriate Courses

To determine what GQ course to schedule, a student needs to know his/her Course Placement Score and major requirements. In addition, students should consider their options by learning about the variety of GQ courses offered. Detailed descriptions of math courses are provided by the department. Syllabi are available for statistics courses. Descriptions of all GQ courses are listed in the bulletin.

Basic Skills Courses

MATH 003 and 004 offer basic skills remediation. These courses may be a required demonstration of readiness as part of a sequence of courses to prepare a student for calculus, and they may be Advising Recommendations for Other GQ Courses. For example, STAT 200 has a prerequisite of placement into MATH 021, met by either completing MATH 004 or earning an ALEKS score of 30% or higher.

MATH 003 Basic Skills (3 credits) provides instruction in basic arithmetic skills. This course is required for students with an ALEKS score of 0 to 13%. (MATH 003 is not offered on all campuses; it is not available at University Park.)

MATH 004 Intermediate Algebra (3 credits) is a college-level introduction to algebra. It has a prerequisite of MATH 003 or an ALEKS score of 14 to 29%. (MATH 004 is offered at most campuses; at University Park it is offered through Continuing Education.)

Credits earned in these courses are included in the student's semester credits and total credits earned. Grades earned are included in the student's grade-point average. However, these courses cannot be used to satisfy the basic minimum requirements for graduation (including electives) in any baccalaureate degree program.

MATH 140 Opportunities

MATH 140, Calculus With Analytic Geometry, is offered with applications to several disciplines (designated by course suffix): biology in MATH 140B, engineering in MATH 140E, and Earth and Mineral Sciences in MATH 140G. While providing a student an opportunity to apply quantification skills to an area of interest, these courses all cover the same basic topics and they all fulfill any requirement to take MATH 140.

Students Not Planning to Take Calculus

Students may select GQ courses that are not part of the calculus sequence. Prerequisites vary and may be satisfied through prior course work, performance on the ALEKS assessment, or retest following completion of ALEKS Prep & Learning modules.

Many Penn State majors require students to take specific courses to satisfy the GQ requirement. Flexibility in General Education identifies GQ courses in majors with specific requirements.

As part of the minimum 6-credit GQ requirement, a student may take no more than 3 credits in either computer science (CMPSC) or symbolic logic (PHIL).

GQ Alternatives to Algebra, Precalculus, and Calculus

Recommended Alternatives to Algebra, PreCalculus and Calculus
General Education Quantification Suggested Minimum Level of Preparation
CMPSC 101 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004
CMPSC 203 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004
CMPSC 208 (GAME 250) 46% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 021
CRIMJ 260 (available at
campuses offering the CRIMJ major)
14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
EDPSY 101 14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
MATH 017 14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
MATH 018 14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
MATH 033 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004
MATH 034 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004
MATH 035 NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED
MATH 036 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004
MATH 200 14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
PHIL 012 NO PREPARATION SUGGESTED *
STAT 100 ** 14% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 003
STAT 200 30% or higher ALEKS score /MATH 004

*Although PHIL 012 has no prerequisite, PHIL 001 (GH), Basic Problems of Philosophy, may help students prepare by learning about the structure of a philosopher's arguments; or PHIL 010 (GH), Critical Thinking and Argument, may provide useful background by familiarizing students with the importance of abstract patterns of inference. According to the Philosophy Department, either of these courses may be helpful, but neither is necessary for success in PHIL 012.

**STAT 100 (GQ) Statistical Concepts and Reasoning has been suggested to help students who have no background in statistics and express concern about their ability to handle college-level mathematics.

Questions regarding these suggestions should be directed to the appropriate department.

Students Planning to Take Calculus

A student begins by selecting from permitted courses based on his/her ALEKS score (or their demonstration of readiness) and continues on the appropriate pathway.

Advising Recommendations

MATH 040 or 041 should only be taken by students with strong preparation if they need a fast-paced refresher.

MATH 022 and 026 can be taken concurrently but should only be undertaken by students who demonstrate readiness by strong performance in MATH 021 (course or ALEKS assessment).

Credit by Exam

If a student demonstrated outstanding skills in basic mathematics and precalculus, then he/she may schedule calculus or may consult with an adviser about calculus credit by exam. The Mathematics Department has created a web questionnaire that provides talking points for a thoughtful advising discussion about whether it is appropriate for a student to take a test for credit in calculus (Math 110 or Math 140). Students who want to pursue credit by exam in calculus should contact the Undergraduate Math Office.

Advanced Placement (AP) for Calculus

A student may have earned credit for MATH 140 or MATH 140 and 141 through the advanced placement program of the College Board. A student with AP calculus credits may take MATH 140 and/or 141 because he/she feels that more work is needed or wanted in this subject. A list of questions provided by the Department of Mathematics helps students consider whether they should use earned AP credits to satisfy their MATH 140 or 141 requirements. If a student decides to take the courses(s), the course(s) will appear on the student's transcript twice, but credits for the course(s) will only be counted once as a graduation requirement.

Recommendations for Students Having Difficulty in GQ Courses

Assistance in quantification courses is available for all students at Penn State Learning; see mathematics and statistics.

Students are advised to carefully assess the likelihood of success in a mathematics class during the drop/add period. The appropriateness of placement based on the mathematics placement test can be further assessed by going to the first few classes and reviewing the syllabus and the text.

For more information, contact the Undergraduate Math Office.


Last Update: June 2014

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