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Orientation Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “good” ALEKS score?

            Unlike most exams, the ALEKS scores are not based on a percentage correct.  Therefore, to be placed into MATH 140 (College Algebra), you must score a 39 on your ALEKS Placement Test.  If you do not earn a 39, and enroll in MATH 140 anyway, you will be dropped by the Math department at a later date.

What if I don’t place high enough on the ALEKS test to be placed into MATH 140 – College Algebra?

            It is not the end of the world!  A low ALEKS score does NOT mean that you are bad at math!  It simply means that you were probably not prepared well enough in high school for this level of math.  You do have the option to retake the ALEKS test.  But, if you choose not to, or if your score is still not above at 39, then you will be enrolled in MATH 139X.  MATH 139X is an 8-week “sidecar” course that students will take simultaneously with the primary Math 140 course.

What is MATH 139X?

Based on their ALEKS scores, students will be required (at no cost) to enroll in the 8‐week supporting (sidecar) course SIMULTANEOUSLY with the connected primary course – Math 140.

Do I have to take the ALEKS test before I complete orientation?

            Ideally, yes!  We cannot place you into a Math class until we have an ALEKS score.  If you have college credit for MATH 140, its equivalent, or higher, then technically we will not be placing you in a Math class, so the score is not relevant.  If you do not have college credit, and we do not have an ALEKS score, you will be placed into MATH 139X until you have a score.  This is not statistics, but math.  If you enroll in a MATH course that is not appropriate based on your ALEKS score, you will be dropped before the semester starts.

How many times can I take the ALEKS test?

            You make take the ALEKS test a total of 3 times.

What if I score high enough to be placed into Calculus?

            Since our program (and the ISU Vet School) does not require calculus, and since it is a very difficult course to handle with a science-based first semester, we will still place you into MATH 140 – College Algebra.  If you plan to apply to a veterinary program that requires calculus, then you should visit with your orientation adviser – what we can do is hold off on MATH for the first semester and you can take MATH 165 (Calculus) another semester.  We will accept calculus, but do not suggest that you take it your first semester with BIOL and the rest of your course load.

How many credits should I take my first semester?

            14-16 credits seems to be the “sweet spot” for our students and their expected course load.  Being a science-based major, there is a large amount of studying outside of class to be successful and we also want you to have the right balance of course work, studying, extracurricular activities and mental health, while keeping you on pace for graduation.  12 credits is considered full-time.  Most of our students take 16+ credits in future semesters.  Between previous credits earned, summer credits, and higher than average future course loads, chances are very good that you will stay on track and still graduate on time.

How will my schedule change if I am Pre-Vet vs. not?

            For most students, it won’t affect your first semester.  Animal Science requires many of the same basic science courses.  Your first semester is more dependent on what (if any) college credits you have already earned, your ACT/SAT scores, your ALEKS math placement score, etc.  As you progress through the program, some course choices will diverge between pre-vet and non-pre-vet students.

What if I want to apply to vet school early?

            Awesome!  Most Animal Science majors apply to the vet school of their choice at the end of their JUNIOR year (for entry AFTER their SENIOR year/graduation).  However, some are able to take the prerequisites and be far enough along to apply at the end of their SOPHOMORE year (for entry into vet school in August of what would have been their SENIOR year), without earning their Bachelor’s of Science degree in Animal Science.  Several of our students earn a spot in the next vet school class early, and we can help you schedule that.

There is actually a way to only take all of the prerequisite courses quickly and intensely and apply after your FRESHMAN year, for entry into vet school in what would have been your JUNIOR year.  While this is possible, it has been our experience that students get very overwhelmed and burn out with this intense schedule, often ruining their GPA and their chances of being accepted into vet school.  Additionally, few freshmen have the leadership and club activities, and internship and work experience that the more advanced students have, making their application less competitive.  For most students, one more year of undergraduate classes and experiences spreads out the work load, eases the strain and stress a bit (thus enhancing their mental health), and provides them with the maturity to not only submit a competitive application, but get ready to take on 4 more years of rigorous coursework in vet school.

What if I don’t like my schedule?

            It depends on WHY you don’t like it.  If you don’t like it because you have morning classes or classes on Friday, or a general education course that you are not that interested in, then, unfortunately, that is part of college.  However, if you are needing to add a BIOL lab that is now open or change a section, open registration for ALL students will be from early July (Date is TBD) until August 27 at 5:00pm.  Or, if during the first week of class you find yourself in over your head and need to change math courses, for example, then make that decision before Friday, August 28 that 5:00pm in order to drop without penalty.  Students will be able to log into AccessPlus and change their schedule without adviser approval.  Simply click “Agree/Continue” instead of putting in your RAN.  Be careful!  Do not make drastic changes to your schedule without contacting us!

I have a “check mark” for ENGL 150 but didn’t take it.  What does that mean?

            Congratulations!  It means that you scored above a 24 on the English portion of the ACT exam (ACT-E) or above a 600 on the verbal portion of the SAT (SAT-V).  Iowa State University recognizes competency in Composition I with those scores.  Therefore, you do not have to take ENGL 150 (Composition I), but you do not receive credit (since you did not take a course or test out).  The 3 credits for ENGL 150 will simply go into your electives to be used as you wish.

What if I can’t get into BIOL lab?

            There may be some movement and additional seats released in July during open registration.  Open registration starts July 2nd for most seats, with the unused Learning Community seats released on July 10th.  Open registration will continue through the first week of classes, ending Friday, August 28th at 5:00pm sharp in AccessPlus.  Since any ISU student can change their schedule during this time, there will be some movement on course enrollment throughout the summer.  Additionally, BIOL 211 and 212 labs can be taken asynchronously/in different semesters (which is NOT true for CHEM courses).

I took a BIOL course at a community college, and now it says it doesn’t transfer in as BIOL 211.  Why?

            The Department of Biology here at ISU has found many discrepancies between BIOL I and BIOL II courses.  However, when looked at together, both semesters appear to actually cover most of the material that BIOL 211/L and BIOL 212/L do.  Therefore, in order for the appropriate BIOL courses to transfer in as the cohort of BIOL 211 and 212 with the respective labs, BOTH biology courses must be taken at the same institution.  Therefore, you may choose to finish out the second semester at the same school that you took the first course (assuimng it is the right level) or you can “start over” with BIOL 211 and lab here at ISU.  This does not apply to BIOL credit earned from a 4-year school.

What is “Career/Technical Credit” on my Transfer Credit Evaluation?

            Career/Technical credits are more vocational-type classes that are usually offered at the community college level.  ISU will accept up to 16 credits of career/technical courses as electives towards a degree program.