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

New first-year 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 scores in LionPATH (Academics, Academic Background) by clicking on Test Results/View All. Course placement information is presented to students at New Student Orientation. These test results help to ensure students begin at course levels that match their readiness. Understand Your Score on the ALEKS Math Assessment website additionally provides a guide to the math 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 review courses. Improve your score on the ALEKS Math Assessment site provides instructions for using the Prep & Learning modules and retesting. However, students may not retest after their first semester begins (fall/spring). If students begin in the summer and take their recommended math course, they may not retest.

Demonstrating Readiness for Calculus and Calculus-Sequence Courses

Students who schedule calculus (MATH 110/140) or a calculus-sequence course (MATH 21,22, 26, 40, 41) must satisfy the course prerequisite. Students who enroll in one of these courses without demonstrating readiness will be disenrolled from the course. Contact the Department of Mathematics for details on this policy.

The ALEKS Course Placement Scores chart provides the minimum scores needed to schedule MATH 1, 3, 4, 21, 22, 26, 40, 41, 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

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 3 and 4 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 21, met by either completing MATH 4 or earning an ALEKS score of 30% or higher.

MATH 3 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 3 is not offered on all campuses; it is not available at University Park.)

MATH 4 Intermediate Algebra (3 credits) is a college-level introduction to algebra. It has a prerequisite of MATH 3 or an ALEKS score of 14 to 29%. (MATH 4 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. When selecting GQ courses students use the University Bulletin, Recommended Academic Plans, or a degree audit to determine if a major has specified GQ courses.

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, Precalculous and Calculus.
General Education Quantification Suggested Minimum Level of Preparation
CMPSC 101 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4
CMPSC 203 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4
CMPSC 208 (GAME 250) 46 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 21
CRIMJ 260 (available at
campuses offering the CRIMJ major)
14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
EDPSY 101 14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
MATH 17 14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
MATH 18 14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
MATH 33 (related article) 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4
MATH 34 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4
MATH 36 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4
MATH 200 14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
STAT 100 ** 14 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 3
STAT 200 30 or higher ALEKS score /MATH 4

*Although PHIL 12 has no prerequisite, PHIL 1 (GH), Basic Problems of Philosophy, may help students prepare by learning about the structure of a philosopher's arguments; or PHIL 10 (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 12.

**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 40 or 41 should only be taken by students with strong preparation if they need a fast-paced refresher.

MATH 22 and 26 can be taken concurrently but should only be undertaken by students who demonstrate readiness by strong performance in MATH 21 (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, philosophy 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: May 2016