Chemistry Placement

The University of Oregon Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers a placement assessment to help students decide which introductory course is right for them. The assessment is not required for students wishing to enroll in Introduction to Chemical Principles (CH 111).

On this page:

Placement Assessment Overview

Students wishing to enroll in General Chemistry I (CH 221) or Advanced General Chemistry I (CH 224H) are required to take the assessment prior to registration. Students who already have credit for CH 221 (either through AP or IB) and want to retake a chemistry course are not required to take the placement assessment and are encouraged to register for CH 224H. Repeat Course policies apply.

In addition to the chemistry placement, the appropriate math level must be attained for each course either by credit or math placement. The prerequisites for each course are shown below:

Chemistry Prerequisites

CH 111: Satisfactory placement test score for MATH 111; coreq: MATH 111.

CH 221: CH 111 or satisfactory placement test score; C- or better in MATH 111. Co-req: MATH 112. Concurrent CH 227 recommended.

CH 224H: Satisfactory placement test score; MATH 112 with a grade of C-. coreq: one from MATH 241, MATH 246, MATH 251, MATH 261. Concurrent CH 227 recommended.

Note that CH 227 is the General Chemistry Lab course. It is separate from the lecture courses and should be taken concurrent with CH 221 or CH 224H.

Students will be able to get into General Chemistry courses even if their registration is delayed due to working on the placement assessment. Additional seats are opened gradually throughout the registration period in order to keep sections evenly enrolled.

Taking the Placement

A low initial score is not uncommon and does not mean you will be unsuccessful in CH 221 or CH 224H!

It may just mean your memory of high school chemistry needs some refreshing before you start the course. You can use the Learning Modules to refresh your knowledge and raise your score. You will not have to retake the initial assessment.

From the time of the initial log-in, students have 18 weeks to complete their placement. See details below under What to Know About the ALEKS Placement Assessment Before You Begin.

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Assessment and Scoring

The placement assessment allows students to identify whether they have the prerequisite knowledge to succeed and also provides a review of the essential concepts that they are expected to know. The general chemistry courses are academically demanding and identification of the correct course from the beginning puts students on a trajectory for success, rather than enrolling in a course where they do not have the necessary background and will struggle to succeed.

Students will take the placement assessment online at a time and a place that is convenient to them. The assessment is administered through an artificial intelligence-based teaching tool called ALEKS. A score of 75% or higher is required to register for CH 221 and a score of 85% or higher is required to register for CH 224H.

Students can earn the prerequisite ALEKS score in one of two ways:

  1. Students who are particularly well-prepared may score 75% or greater on the Initial Knowledge Check. They will need to do no further work in the ALEKS assessment.
  2. Students who do not score at least 75% will be allowed to use the ALEKS learning modules available online to improve their mastery as needed, until their combined mastered topics and learned topics equals 75%.

To ensure the required score is earned before course registration begins, the assessment should be completed as early as possible. The assessment must be completed before the first day of the term.

There is no charge for completing the ALEKS placement assessment and scores will be automatically transmitted to the Office of the Registrar and uploaded to students’ records. Once a score of 75% or greater has been uploaded students will be able to register.

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What to Know About the ALEKS Placement Assessment Before You Begin

ALEKS is an adaptive system that will determine your current knowledge through an Initial Knowledge Check (IKC).

  • The IKC will consist of up to 30 questions, depending on your current knowledge. Because everyone comes in with a slightly different knowledge base, not every student will receive the same set of questions.
  • The IKC is not timed but you should plan for around 1.5 – 2 hours to answer the initial questions.
  • You may log out and log back in again while completing the IKC, allowing you to take breaks. ALEKS will remember where you left off and you can pick up from there.
  • There is no advantage, and actually a disadvantage, to consulting outside resources such as a textbook, the internet, or a friend to improve your assessment score. If ALEKS thinks you know more than you do, it will subsequently give you more difficult problems to solve. Use of outside resources could also lead to improper placement and potentially course failure. Always read and follow the onscreen instructions very carefully and do the work on your own.
  • Never click the “I don’t know” button during the ALEKS assessment unless you really don’t have any idea of how to do the problem. Otherwise, ALEKS will think you don’t know things you actually do know and this will be reflected in the placement assessment results. There is no penalty for incorrectly answering a question on the placement assessment; it only helps ALEKS understand what you know and don’t know.
  • We recommend you have a calculator and scratch paper available before starting.

Once you complete the initial assessment, ALEKS will provide a score that represents the percentage of topics you have mastered. Most students earn an initial score of 21-50% and spend an average of 12–15 additional hours learning content and raising their score to the desired level. Because you will be building your knowledge base and preparing yourself for CH 221 or CH 224H, we encourage you to take your time and not rush through this process.

Once you have initially logged into ALEKS you will have 18 weeks to complete your placement. If you feel you are spending too much time (generally over 20 hours) or are overwhelmed by the material, we encourage you to speak with an advisor and consider taking Introduction to Chemical Principles, CH 111, prior to taking CH 221.

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Taking the Placement Assessment

Here are the steps to taking the placement assessment when you are ready.

Registration and set up: Go to Click on “Sign Up / New Student." Enter course code YMNP4-DGQR6. Confirm the class information, and that the class you are accessing is UO Chemistry Placement. Indicate whether you have used ALEKS Chemistry before. For most students, the answer to this is no and you should click “No, I have never used ALEKS before”. Note that even if you have used ALEKS for math, you are a new student in ALEKS chemistry.

Complete registration, taking care to enter your UO email address and ID number carefully to ensure your ALEKS account will be correctly linked with your UO account. Be sure to record your ALEKS username and password. You will receive an email confirming your account registration.

Take the Initial Knowledge Check (IKC). Continue into the ALEKS assessment. Work through the Tools Tutorial for a brief introduction to the interface and learn where you can access important information you will need to solve problems, such as the periodic table and calculator. After the IKC, you will see your ALEKS “pie”. This shows you what you already know, what you’re ready to learn and what topics you’ll eventually need to learn.

Increase your score with learning mode: After clicking “Next” at the bottom of the page, you can begin working in the learning mode to increase your score. This is accessed by clicking “Start (or Continue) My Path”. The learning mode includes questions and tutorials to help you master the content. Continue working in the ALEKS learning mode until your “pie score” has reached 75% or better. This score is sufficient for registration but you are strongly encouraged to keep working until reaching a score of 100% to help you prepare for your upcoming chemistry course.

Please note that the synchronization between ALEKS and the Office of the Registrar is not immediate and you may have to wait up to 24 hours to be able to register.

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Contact Us

Non-technical questions, including questions about accessibility, should be directed to the UO Testing Center at 541-346-3230 or

Technical issues with ALEKS should be directed to the ALEKS support team. They are very helpful, accessible and prompt!

Phone: 800-258-2374

Hours (PST)

Monday - Thursday, 4:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday, 4:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday, 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Other questions can be emailed to us at

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My placement score is not high enough to register for General Chemistry. How can I raise my score?

If your initial score is less than the 75% needed to register for General Chemistry, you can raise your score by working in the ALEKS learning mode.

The learning mode includes questions and tutorials to help you master the content. You have 18 weeks to work on your placement from the time of your initial log-in. Access the learning mode by clicking “Start (or Continue) My Path”.

Once your “pie score” has reached 75% or better, you will be able to register for CH 221. A score of 85% or better will allow you to register for CH 224H. You are strongly encouraged to keep working until reaching a score of 100% to help you prepare for your upcoming chemistry course.

Please note that the synchronization between ALEKS and the Office of the Registrar is not immediate and you may have to wait up to 24 hours to be able to register.

Do I have to report my score when I have reached 75% or better?

No, your score will be automatically uploaded to your records in DuckWeb.

Please note that the synchronization between ALEKS and the Office of the Registrar is not immediate and you may have to wait up to 24 hours to be able to register.

I am repeating General Chemistry. Do I need to take the Chemistry Placement?

It depends on the grade you received previously for the course.

Students that received an F or W grade must take the Chemistry Placement.

Students that received a grade of D- or better can request an override for the placement requirement by emailing the faculty advisor, Dr. Koscho, at Students with a grade of C or better will also need a Repeat Course petition from the UO Registrar's Office.

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