College Readiness

Normandale Students

Satisfying Prereqs | Placement Testing | Pre-Placement Resources | Accuplacer | Preparation Outlines

What is College Readiness in Mathematics?

To insure your success in the Mathematics program here at Normandale, we need to determine your level of math understanding before you enroll. Math, unlike some other knowledge subjects, builds on previous skills and knowledge levels in order to take the student successfully to the next level.

The Normandale Math department has assembled some tools for students to use to not only begin at the right place, but students can even accelerate their own progress before they enroll at a goal course level.

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Satisfying Prerequisites with Tests

All college level mathematics courses have prerequisites that must be satisfied before enrollment in the course is permitted.

Prerequisites can be satisfied by-

  • Taking the required course(s) at Normandale or at another college institution
  • Placement via the Accuplacer placement examination
  • Achieving a high enough score on the ACT/SAT tests in math.

Accuplacer can determine your initial mathematics placement level, which currently can be as high level as Normandale's Math Pre-calculus or even Calculus I.

Placement can also be determined from national standardized admission tests, such as the ACT, SAT or the College Boards Advanced Placement Program. In other words, if you do well on any of those tests in Math, you may be able to begin your college level math coursework at a higher level.

Due to the, "use it or lose it" nature of mathematical skills, prerequisites must be satisfied in the period of two years prior to enrollment in order to apply.

View the Admissions page page for more details.

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Placement Testing

All students, even recent high school graduates, should review and study up on their math knowledge prior to taking the placement test.  You don't want to start at a level lower than you need to.

Here at Normandale, students start with the Elementary Algebra Test. If you get most of the questions correct, you will move on to the Intermediate Algebra Test. If you get many incorrect answers, you will move to the Pre-algebra test. 

After completing your tests, you will visit with a counselor/advisor to view the results and recommendations for registering for a math course.

Students often can get placed below the last math course they have taken because they have forgotten things and have not reviewed adequately.


Reviewing your own math knowledge can save you time and money by not having to repeat a course you have already completed or coursework that you have already mastered.

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Pre-Placement Testing Resources

Using ALEKS:

ALEKS stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces. This is a sophisticated online evaluation resource that not only can determine any gaps in your math knowledge but instruct you in filling them in.

It's web-based and it's not free. Most of the lower-level courses hover around $30 and give you up to 6 weeks to run through them (as many times as you'd like during that period as well).

Each review course requires an online code to be entered on the ALEKS registration page. Here are the available math prep courses and codes for ALEKS:

Prep Course Course Code (copy each half separately to paste into the fields)
Prep for Beginning Algebra: EC3DX-H3GGH
Prep for Intermediate Algebra: 3KUVR-4D493
Prep for College Algebra: HUQLV-NTVYG
Prep for Pre-Calculus: QLWQK-JK6AN
Prep for Calculus: VXVY9-QCL6U

For new students, go to the ALEKS homepage and click on NEW USER? SIGN UP NOW! Then follow the steps below.

ALEKS Homepage
Click here to enlarge
Enter the Course Code
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Verify this is the course you want, then press CONTINUE
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Fill in the radio button press CONTINUE
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Click Purchase an Access Code
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Order Payment Form for ALEKS Course
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Select Your Payment Type
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The final fields show up after you select payment type
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^ The above online courses can be considered a good investment to insure you start your Normandale math program at the right level for you.

For returning students:

  1. Click the link to access ALEKS,
  2. Enter your ALEKS login and password
  3. Enter the course code of the appropriate Prep course listed.
  4. Follow the on screen instructions.

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Accuplacer placement

Accuplacer tests are commonly used by many institutions to gauge the various academic levels including math, for incoming students. Therefore, there are a variety of places you can take them, including Normandale.

As mentioned previously, Accuplacer scores are just one method to determine a student's readiness for college-level coursework.

The Accuplacer tests are short (~20 questions or less) but comprehensive, covering up to five math areas with this limited amount of questions.

More information on Placement Testing can be found here.

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Preparation Outlines

The preparation outlines below should help you decide what areas you would like to brush up on as well as show the skills that are covered at each level. They are arranged in categories that match the Accuplacer placement test rather than Normandale courses. However, Normandale course equivalents (e.g. Math 500) are listed.

Arithmetic (Math 500 topics)  |  Elementary Algebra (Math 600, 630 topics)  |  Adv. Algebra and Pre-Calc (Math 700, 1100, 1500)

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Pre-algebra (Math 500 topics)

  1. Whole numbers and fractions
    1. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
    2. Recognizing equivalent fractions and mixed numbers
    3. Estimating
  2. Decimals and percents
    1. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals
    2. Percent problems, recognition of decimal, fraction, and percent equivalencies
    3. Estimating
  3. Applications and Problem Solving
    1. Rate, percent, and measurement problems
    2. Simple geometry problems like area and perimeter of quadrilaterals, mostly rectangles
    3. Decomposition of a quantity into its fractional parts

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Elementary Algebra (Math 600, 630 topics)

  1. Integers and Rationals
    1. Computation with positive and negative integers and rationals
    2. Use of absolute value
    3. Ordering

2. Algebraic Expressions

  1. Evaluation of simple formulas and expressions
  2. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of polynomials
  3. Evaluation of positive rational roots and exponents
  4. Simplifying algebraic fractions, factoring and applied problems

3. Equations, Inequalities and Word Problems

  1. Linear equations and inequalities - solving, graphing, translating written phrases into algebraic expressions
  2. Quadratic equations - solving by factoring, graphing

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Advanced Algebra and Pre-Calculus (Math 700, 1100, 1500 topics)

1. Algebraic Operations

  1. Simplifying rational expressions
  2. Factoring and expanding polynomials
  3. Manipulating roots and exponents
  4. Finding equations of lines
  5. Finding equations of lines parallel and perpendicular to given lines

2. Solutions of Equations and Inequalities

  1. Solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities
  2. Graphing functions
  3. Solving systems of equations
  4. Solving equations with radical expressions, logarithms and exponentials

3. Coordinate Geometry

  1. Conics (to place into Calculus)

4. Applications and other Topics

  1. Complex numbers
  2. Sequences and series
  3. Determinants
  4. Permutations and combinations
  5. Factorials
  6. Problems in context

5. Functions

  1. Questions involving polynomial, exponential, and logarithm functions including inverses, compositions and graphing

6. Trigonometry

  1. Right triangle trig is enough for placement into college algebra and pre-calculus; circular trig is necessary for placement into calculus