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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, namely MATH 221, Applied Calculus 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 231, Calculus 1, the first course in the primary calculus sequence.

Determining Calculus Readiness; Preparing for the Assessment

In order to register for MATH 231 (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 231 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 231 within a few business days (allowing for time for the score data to pass between databases). When registering for MATH 231, the student should remember to concurrently register for MATH 231L (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 231 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. Stephen Lovett (Stephen.lovett@wheaton.edu), who coordinates the Calculus Readiness Assessment.

Students with Previous Calculus Experience

Some students come to Wheaton College with prior calculus experience.  The college maintains the following policies concerning credit and pre-requisite satisfaction in regards to the AP test and the IB and our calculus sequence.

AP Calculus AB score of 3, or an AP Calculus BC score of 2 allows the student to start in MATH233, Calculus 1B, which is the second half of MATH  231, Calculus 1.

AP Calculus AB score of 4 or 5, or an AP Calculus BC score of 3, gives the student credit for MATH 231 and allows the student to begin in MATH 232, Calculus 2.

AP Calculus BC score of 4 or 5 gives the student credit for MATH231 and a total of 6 hours of MATH credit and allows the student to begin in MATH234, Calculus 2B, which is the second half of MATH 232, Calculus 2.  Furthermore, freshmen students beginning in MATH 234 in A quad of the fall semester are encouraged to take MATH 331, Vector Calculus, in the B quad of the same semester and thereby complete the calculus sequence.

IB (International Baccalaureate) Math HL score of 5 or higher gives the student credit for MATH231 and allows the student to begin in MATH 232, Calculus 2.  (The Standard Level SL does not give credit.)

In exceptional circumstances, the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science may administer a Calculus Validation Exam, which is comparable in difficulty and content to the MATH 231 final.  A student who earns a 70 or higher on the Calculus validation Test is considered to have met the pre-requisites for MATH232, Calculus 2, and may begin there.