Undergraduate Placement Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to test?

Placement testing for new students at St. Cloud State University consists of the ALEKS PPL Math Placement Assessment and ACCUPLACER for reading comprehension. Other tests, such as biology, are available as determined by a student’s intended major.

Placement testing is required for some students due to a low ACT sub test scores in reading and/or English and Math. Students are also able to place in higher level math courses than their ACT sub test score would indicate by taking the ALEKS PPL exam.

Expiration dates for ALEKS, Accuplacer and ACT scores are as follows:

Exam Scores

Expiration Date

Reading Comprehension Valid for 3 years
ESL Reading/Listening/Writing Valid for 3 years
Math (ALEKS PPL, QAS, IA or AAF ) Valid for 2 years
Biology (Anatomy and Physiology Test) No expiration date

ACT Scores

Expiration Date

ACT Reading Valid for 5 years
ACT English Valid for 5 years
ACT Math Valid for 5 years

If you have taken or are currently taking a math course you must follow the sequential order recommended by the math department. Note: ONCE YOU START YOUR MATH SEQUENCE, YOU ARE NO LONGER ELIGIBLE TO TEST TO ENROLL IN A HIGHER LEVEL MATH COURSE.

St. Cloud State also offers students the opportunity to test directly into major level courses in math and/or biology (Biology 202 – Human Anatomy and Physiology I).

For more information or advising please contact the offices:

Mathematics: Mathematics and Statistics
Location: 139 Engineering and Computing Center
Telephone: (320) 308-3001
E-Mail: mathstat@stcloudstate.edu
Web site: www.stcloudstate.edu/mathstat/placement/

Biology Exam: Department of Biological Sciences
Location: WSB 262
Telephone: (320) 308-2039
E-Mail: biology@stcloudstate.edu
Web site: www.stcloudstate.edu/biology

Should I study and prepare for the exam?

Yes! Reviewing for your placement exam could potentially save you time and money at St. Cloud State University. Below is a list of sample questions and practice exams:

See also these helpful tips for before and during the test.

*** You are allowed 5 attempts of the ALEKS PPL placement assessment and after the first attempt, you will receive a personalized Prep & Learning module.

Is it possible to fail a placement exam?

No. Tests indicate current skill level - not potential. The purpose is to enable you to make informed decisions about which courses to take at the beginning of your college career.

Can I retake my placement test?


You may attempt the ALEKS PPL placement assessment up to 5 times. You must wait at least 48 hours and spend at least 3 hours in your Prep & Learning module between attempts.


If you are not satisfied with your initial ACCUPLACER Reading (English) assessment scores, you may retest one time within a 12 month period, a two week wait period in-between testing is recommended to allow time for additional review. 

International students who are non-native speakers of English are required to take ESL courses during their first semester at SCSU; therefore, retesting is not allowed.


You are not able to retake the Biology exam. If you have any questions regarding this policy please contact the Biology department directly.

What do I need to bring for the test?

A current picture ID is required to verify your identification. Your Tech ID number or STAR ID is required to take the test. Unfortunately, if you do not have a student ID we can not administer the test for you.

Acceptable forms of photo identification include:

  • A current driver's license
  • A state approved ID
  • A high school ID
  • A college ID
  • A current state or federal ID card
  • A current passport
  • A tribal ID card
  • A naturalization card or certificate of citizenship

No outside materials are allowed for testing.

Personal calculators are not allowed on the math test, however, one will be provided on the computer screen if the test determines the test question warrants the use of a calculator. Scratch paper and a pencil are also provided for math calculations.

If you are an international student coming for the ESL tests, it will be helpful if you can bring computer headphones. If you do not have any, we will provide them.

If I have a disability, can I make special arrangements?

Placement tests are untimed. If you have documentation you believe qualifies you for other testing accommodations, please contact Student Accessibility Services, 320-308-4080.

What if I'm not a St. Cloud State University student?

If you are using ACCUPLACER for your admission process or fit the following criteria:

  • Have not yet received your St. Cloud State student ID number
  • Are enrolled in the Community College Connection Program through St. Cloud Technical & Community College
  • Planning on attending a College/Institution other than SCSU 

Please contact us by email at placementtesting@stcloudstate.edu. We will respond to your email (within 48 hours) with a confirmation date and time when registration is complete.

The following information is required in your email to be scheduled for a test:

  • First and last name
  • Telephone number (for questions or for notification of cancellation)
  • Two choices of dates and times that will work for your schedule (be specific)
  • Which exam you are requesting to take (ex. Quanitative Reasoning, Algebra & Statistics, Reading Comprehension etc.)
  • The school that you will be testing for

What is adaptive testing?

Both ALEKS and ACCUPLACER are adaptive tests. This means that the questions are chosen for you on the basis of your answers to previous questions. This technique selects just the right questions for your ability level. Because the test works this way, you must answer every question when it is first given.

Where is testing available?

St. Cloud State’s testing takes place in different computer labs on the campus depending on availability. When scheduling a test, pay close attention to the location of the lab provided.

As another option, ACCUPLACER tests may be taken at any Minnesota State campus. When making arrangements to test at another campus:

  1. Make an appointment at the campus you choose.
  2. Contact St. Cloud State Advising and Student Transitions to determine which test you need to take.
  3. Contact St. Cloud State Placement Testing to obtain a voucher for the appropriate test.

If you live out of state and need to test, please contact us at placementtesting@stcloudstate.edu and we will try our best to accommodate your individual needs.

How much does it cost?

St. Cloud State University provides assessment testing at no charge for St. Cloud State University students. Non-SCSU students who wish to test with a voucher will be able to test at no cost. Non-SCSU students who wish to test without a voucher should contact Placement Testing at placementtesting@stcloudstate.edu.

Where can I park?

Pay Parking is available in the parking ramp at St. Cloud State University located on Fourth Street South on campus.

What time should I arrive?

Showing up on time, at least 10-15 minutes early, usually allows you time to complete your exam within the testing time frame. To provide a quiet testing environment, late arrivals may not be admitted to the computer lab. Continuous no-shows will not be guaranteed a seat. If you are delayed, please reschedule your test for a later date.

How long will the test take?

Math and Reading exams are not timed, however Biology placement test is limited to one hour. Depending upon which tests you need to complete, you may be testing from 20 minutes to 2 hours. It is best to anticipate spending two hours in the lab.

If I already took the Math Placement test what should I do?

Visit the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for more information.