## GET STARTED, PART 3Let's talk about math.
No... get back here. You don't have to run away screaming like that. Your neighbors are probably quite concerned at the moment. Take a deep breath. Now another one. And one more. There. All better? All right. Like it or not, you are going to need some math credits in order to earn your degree. But there's good news here. If you are planning on using one of the Big Three schools, it's ALEKS to the rescue! (If you have a different college or university in mind, you will want to determine whether or not they will accept ALEKS credits before you take any ALEKS courses.) |

ALEKS works differently than most programs out there. They offer math and a few other courses at a price of $20 per month, with discounts for paying for 6-month or 1-year subscriptions. Students work at their own pace and can start any time.

A handful of ALEKS courses have ACE approval, which means they are worth college credit.

These are:

If you'd like to use ALEKS to meet your college math requirements and perhaps an elective or two as well, you will need to create an account with ACE. This process is free and can be done any time. You will have to pay a fee eventually to send your transcript to your college of choice, but for now, simply create the account so you have a place to record your ALEKS credits.

Register with ALEKS, and choose the payment plan you want. (Homeschoolers, you can request a free two-month trial.) Pick your first course. You can only do one course at a time, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, so pay attention here. Once you've finished a course, you will go log in at ACE and make a request to have your course added to your transcript.

After logging in, you'll do a course search:

A handful of ALEKS courses have ACE approval, which means they are worth college credit.

These are:

*Beginning Algebra*- usually considered remedial, so only take this course if you need the math help. You probably will not get credits for it.*Intermediate Algebra*(3 credits)*College Algebra*OR*College Algebra with Trigonometry*(3 credits) - these courses are generally considered duplicates, so don't take both*PreCalculus*OR*Trigonometry*(3 credits)- also duplicates, so choose only one*Statistics*(3 credits) - there are three statistics courses to choose from, but again, only do one.If you'd like to use ALEKS to meet your college math requirements and perhaps an elective or two as well, you will need to create an account with ACE. This process is free and can be done any time. You will have to pay a fee eventually to send your transcript to your college of choice, but for now, simply create the account so you have a place to record your ALEKS credits.

Register with ALEKS, and choose the payment plan you want. (Homeschoolers, you can request a free two-month trial.) Pick your first course. You can only do one course at a time, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, so pay attention here. Once you've finished a course, you will go log in at ACE and make a request to have your course added to your transcript.

After logging in, you'll do a course search:

Next, type ALEKS in the bottom search box. When you do, you'll get this:

Select "ALEKS Corporation (McGraw Hill)" and you will be given a choice of courses.

Select the course you completed and it will pop open a new window. From there you can click on the button to "Add To Transcript" and follow the instructions given.

And this is the VERY IMPORTANT part - do NOT go back to ALEKS and start a new course until you have received confirmation from ACE that your course as been approved. When you first request it, it will show up as "pending." Wait until you receive an email verifying that it has been moved off the pending list and onto the approved list.

ALEKS only allows you to take one course at a time and they

Once you have finished all your courses, you can let your credits stay "banked" at ACE until you are ready to enroll at your school of choice. Then you will make a request to ACE to have your transcript sent.

ALEKS only allows you to take one course at a time and they

*do not keep your records*. What this means is, once you've finished a course and are ready to tackle the next one, if you register for a new course before ACE has approved the previous one, you will simply lose all your work. ALEKS wipes the slate clean for the new course.**Make sure your completed course is on your transcript before moving on**.Once you have finished all your courses, you can let your credits stay "banked" at ACE until you are ready to enroll at your school of choice. Then you will make a request to ACE to have your transcript sent.

__HOW ALEKS WORKS:__Once you select a course with ALEKS, you are immediately given a pre-course assessment. This is usually around 30 - 35 problems to complete. Work through them one at a time. If you have no idea how to complete a problem, you can choose "I don't know." At the end of your assessment, you'll be given a percentage score.

Do not panic if your score is very low. Right now, it's not about passing or failing. The assessment is used to determine what you do know and what you don't know. Since you are just starting the course, it's not unreasonable to find you don't know all that much. Your percentage score will be displayed for you, along with a pie chart. This chart contains the lessons you will need to complete for the course, broken down by topic. To get started, simply choose one of the lessons. You will be given a problem to solve. If you know how to solve it, or think you do, give it a try. If not, you can click on a button to ask for an explanation.

TAKE GOOD NOTES! You can print the problem explanations, but I really recommend you simply write everything down. IMHO, you are more inclined to actually remember it that way.

Each lesson gives you several problems to solve. If you are able to complete them right on the first try, after three or four problems you'll get a message that says, "It looks like you know how to do this. Do you want to move on or try another practice problem?" You can do either. If you get a problem wrong, you may have to do several more after that, to demonstrate you have learned the process. Eventually, the system will consider the lesson complete, after you have answered enough problems correctly. If, though, you continue to struggle to get even one problem correct, you will eventually be asked if you'd like to try a different lesson.

As you complete your lessons, they will be removed from your pie chart and you will see your percentage score rise accordingly. Periodically, ALEKS will surprise you with a new assessment. Your new percentage score, based on this assessment, will be logged and replace whatever your most current percentage before the assessment was. It may be that you get a score that is the same as the percentage you had worked up to with your lessons. You may actually jump a few points. It is also possible that your score may go down. If this happens, that means you missed some problems on your assessment that you'd previously finished in a lesson. That lesson will be placed back on your pie chart to complete again.

The ultimate goal is to reach 70%,

*through an assessment*. It's possible that you might score a 66% on an assessment and work your way up to 70% through your lessons, but this doesn't "count" officially. You must have at least a 70% on an actual assessment. When that happens, guess what. You've finished the course! You can submit it to ACE for approval.

Some ALEKS tips -

1. If the method of learning used by ALEKS isn't working for you, this does not mean you have to abandon it entirely and pay for a more expensive math option, like an online course. You can use all sorts of free and inexpensive resources, such as Khan Academy or books from your library or Amazon. (Or see our math links.) Learn the math however works best for you and then use ALEKS to take the assessments and earn your credits. While ALEKS automatically issues assessments while you work your way through the lessons, you can also use the master account to force a new assessment whenever you want.

2. The master account also has an option you can use to issue quizzes and extra work problems, including printable worksheets, if you need additional work to master the material.

3. TAKE GOOD NOTES. Did I already say that? Yeah. I really mean it. When you log in to ALEKS for a new lesson, it will start with asking you to complete a problem from each lesson you finished in your last session. Do your best to answer those without referring to your notes, (In fact, it wouldn't hurt to review your notes before starting.) but if you do need to check your notes, at least you will have them on hand.

4. Consider pushing yourself past the 70% mark on the first course or two and it will set you up to be that much further along in the others. My son worked his way up to above 90% in Intermediate Algebra, and then scored over 80% on his initial assessment for College Algebra. He was finished with College Algebra in a single afternoon.

How long it will take you to complete an ALEKS course depends on several factors, including how well you scored on your initial assessment, how much time you have to devote to it each day, and what your natural aptitude for math is. Back in the internet dark ages, (2010) when the Big Three were still accepting Beginning Algebra for credit (before it was downgraded to "remedial" status), I took and finished Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra all in about 3 weeks, working for 2 - 3 hours, four days a week. My daughter was able to finish Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra, and get pretty far into PreCalculus all during her free 2-month trial period with the program.

Let's suppose you aren't as geeky as my family, though. No worries. It might take you a bit longer, but consider this. If you decided to take Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, PreCalculus, and Statistics and thought it would take you one year to finish all the courses, you could pay for a year subscription at $180. This means you'll be getting 12 college credits at only $15 per-credit-hour. Aside from FEMA, that's a deal that's very hard to beat! Plus, this is a pretty painless way to take care of those pesky math credits many people dread. (And if you REALLY loathe math, you don't have to do all four courses. Just do as many as are needed for your degree. In some cases, that may be only one course.)

That's really all there is to it, as far as ALEKS goes.

Are you ready to move on and explore more credit options?