Calculus Readiness Assessment

Calculus Readiness Assessment

The Calculus Readiness Assessment (CRA) is a dynamic, online assessment that evaluates students’ strengths in arithmetic, algebra, and other pre-calculus skills.

Determining Which Math Class to Take

At Wheaton College, we desire that every student will take/start in a mathematics class that is at a suitable level for their preparation.  Students should determine the mathematics (quantitative reasoning) requirements for their particular program but also be aware of their level of preparation.

Some mathematics courses do not have any stated requirements: MATH 106, Mathematics for the Benefit of Mission and Society; MATH 107, Finite Mathematics and Applications; MATH 125, Mathematics for Elementary and Middle Grade Education; MATH 131, Pre-calculus.

Some mathematics courses require pre-calculus competence or MATH 131 (Precalculus), namely MATH 135, Calculus for Business & Social Sciences, and MATH 263 Introduction to Statistics, but the department does not specifically assess student preparation.

However, because of its critical nature, we do assess preparedness for students entering MATH 235, Calculus 1, the first course in the primary calculus sequence.

Determining Calculus Readiness; Preparing for the Assessment

In order to register for MATH 235 (Calculus I), students must have credit for MATH 131 (Precalculus) or meet a benchmark score of 75 on Wheaton College's Calculus Readiness Assessment (CRA). Wheaton College uses a third-party system called ALEKS to deliver the CRA. 

The assessment system is accessible for all students with a Wheaton student login through the Wheaton portal, under the Academic Resources tab.  Besides serving as the platform for tests, the software comes with well-designed learning modules that help the student review algebra, trigonometry and other pre-calculus concepts.  The assessment has a $15 fee, charged to a credit card.

Students who plan to take MATH 235 but do not have MATH 131 credit should, prior to registration, do the following:

  • Log in to the ALEKS system through the Calculus Readiness Assessment link in the Academic Resources tab of your student portal. Watch the video on how to access this.
  • During the login process, several survey questions will be asked. When asked if using an institution code or paying via E-commerce, select pay via e-commerce.
  • On each attempt, the student will have 3 hours to complete the assessment, with most students finishing in 90 minutes. Students will be allowed 5 attempts to meet the 75 benchmark score.
  • If a student does not meet a minimum score of 75 on a given attempt, there is a 24-hour cooling off period. At that point they are required to spend 3 hours in the learning modules before the system will permit them to attempt the test again.
  • Students should not use their own calculators.  The student should only have paper and pencil at their disposal when taking the assessment.  The system will provide the student with a calculator app that is deemed desired and sufficient for the given problem.

Once a student meets the benchmark, they will be able to register for MATH 235 (Calculus I) within a few business days (allowing for time for the score data to pass between databases). When registering for MATH 235, the student should remember to concurrently register for MATH 235L (Drill).

Because Wheaton College students come from all over the world, it is not convenient to offer this assessment in a proctored environment.  That is why students must take it in an un-proctored environment.  However, the faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science strongly urge students to exercise honesty as they follow the ALEKS procedures.  In particular, students should not get help during the assessment, or use their own calculators or computer algebra software (CAS).  In MATH 231, we do not review precalculus concepts or trigonometry but expect a solid degree of fluency and accuracy with them.  Gaining entrance to the course without genuine readiness only puts the student at risk.

Students need not be concerned about enrollment capacity in MATH 235 if they have to delay registration in order to complete the CRA. There will be sufficient seating regardless of registration timing.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Danilo Diedrichs (, who coordinates the Calculus Readiness Assessment.

Students with Previous Calculus Experience

For students that arrive to Wheaton College with official AP Calculus or IB Math HL scores, the college maintains the following policies concerning credit and pre-requisites:

  • Students with an AP Calculus AB score of 4 or 5, or an AP Calculus BC score of 3 or more, or an IB Math HL score of 5 or more earn credit for MATH 235 (Calculus I) and may register for MATH 236 (Calculus II). (Note: The IB Math SL (standard level) does not yield any calculus credit.)gives the student credit for MATH 235 (Calculus I) and allows the student to begin in MATH 236 (Calculus II).

  • Students with an AP Calculus BC score of 4 or 5 earn credit for MATH 235 (Calculus I) and Math 236 (Calculus II) and may register for Math 237 (Calculus III). 

Students without official AP Calculus or IB Math HL scores who wish to enroll in MATH 235 must take the CRA as described above. In exceptional circumstances, the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science may administer a Calculus Validation Exam (CVE) for students without official AP Calculus or IB Math HL scores who earn a score of 75 on the CRA and wish to enroll in MATH 236. The CVE is a 2-hour paper-and-pencil exam comparable to the comprehensive MATH 235 final exam. Students who earn a score of 70 or higher on the CVE may register for MATH 236. Please note, however, that the CVE does not grant credit for MATH 235 or the AAQR tag.