How To Be Successful with ALEKS












Be sure you’re ready to start.

The ALEKS course is based on your knowledge of chemistry from your high school experience and demonstrates your readiness to enroll in CHE 1301. If you have not taken chemistry in high school, we strongly recommend that you do not take ALEKS at this time. Your advisor will discuss your options at Baylor to prepare for success in CHE 1301. Check to make sure your final ACT or SAT scores have been sent to Baylor and entered on your record.

Don’t procrastinate.

ALEKS is very unfriendly to procrastinators. ALEKS was designed by cognitive scientists who specialize in learning. They know that procrastinating until deadline night and then cramming is not a good way to learn.  You must put in some time just about each day working on ALEKS or you will fall so far behind on basic topics that you won’t be able to do the objective that counts towards your grade.

Do your own work.

Getting help or otherwise “cheating” in ALEKS will only make the remaining work you do harder since ALEKS might think you are able to do things you are not ready to do. Also, ALEKS has a way of figuring out that you don’t know things and eventually you will find topics being added back into your pie anyway. The way to get through ALEKS in the minimum amount of time is to cooperate with ALEKS.

Use a notebook.

It will be helpful to write down your ALEKS work as you go. The problems in ALEKS are not simple one-step problems. You will have to write out work occasionally before entering answers. Feel free to write down things you learn when you select “Explain”.

Pay attention to details.  

Make sure you understand the notation used and expected by the program. Computers are extremely stubborn in their entry requirements. If you do not do it the required way, ALEKS will assume that you do not know the material and it will add work to your exercises until you do it the ALEKS way. At first this will be difficult, but it will become second nature as you build good habits that are essential for success in chemistry.

Avoid the "I do not know" button.

Never click the “I don't know” button during any ALEKS assessment unless you really don't have any idea of how to do the problem. Otherwise, ALEKS will think you don't know a lot of things you actually do know, and it will take you way back and make you "learn" them.

Take ALEKS seriously.

ALEKS checks regularly to make sure you remember what you learned. It does this by giving you an assessment. Do not rush through an assessment. If you make careless mistakes in an assessment, ALEKS will assume you do not know things and will add topics back into your pie. ALEKS does “check” to make sure you don’t get problems wrong due to a “careless” mistake.  It does check for common errors and gives you a chance to “correct” for it in a later assessment question. If you keep making the same careless error, a topic will end up back in your pie.  If you do not have time to do an assessment attentively, you can log off and come back to it later. However, once ALEKS gives you an assessment, you will not be able to go back into the learning mode until the assessment is completed. When you return after logging off, you will be back where you left off in the assessment.

Work in ALEKS regularly.

It is best to work in ALEKS everyday versus pulling a marathon session once a week. If you work more than about 2 hours in ALEKS, you will inevitably start to make mistakes out of sheer exhaustion — and then ALEKS will start adding problems, looking for the pattern of correct answers. You could end up spending twice as much time in learning than if you spread out your learning into shorter and more frequent sessions. If at all possible, schedule 20-45 minutes with ALEKS every day. If you can't avoid a longer session, take breaks every hour or so — walk around, do something physical, listen to music, talk to someone..

How long does it take to complete ALEKS?

From the time of sign-on students have 12 weeks to complete the assessment. The average time needed is 20 – 30 hours. When you reach 85% mastery in ALEKS, you may register at that time for CHE 1301. We recommend that you continue to work toward 100% mastery if you have time remaining in the 12-week time period.

Remove distractions.

If you are distracted while working on a problem in ALEKS, you might make a mistake. If that happens, ALEKS will assume you don’t know it and expect you to practice more. When doing ALEKS, be sure to turn off your electronic devices so that you can concentrate on what you are doing. Concentration and attentiveness are good habits to build. They will make you a better student and a better professional.

Review your work.

Has ALEKS told you that you might want to review some topics when you log in?  You do not have to use the review function, but if you review topics and make a mistake, there is no penalty. You can practice all you need and you will not gain or lose any pie. However, when you use the review, ALEKS will notice that you are practicing and improving on the topics you review and is less likely to ask you about them in a progress assessment. In fact, the more you review, the more likely it is that ALEKS will probe your other chemistry knowledge and ALEKS may add topics to your pie during a progress assessment. You may also want to use the Review option as we approach exam time. ALEKS wants to be sure you really have mastered the material so that you will be prepared for CHEM 1301.


Ready to meet ALEKS? Let's go to the Quick Start Guide.


Adapted for ALEKS at Baylor from the Penn State website.