Placement exams for selected courses
Placement examinations for calculus, chemistry, language, and music theory classes are part of the Orientation process. A schedule of placement exams will be included in the Orientation materials you will receive when you arrive in August.
All students who may take calculus at any point during their time at Occidental should participate in the calculus placement process. Please determine, by reading the next paragraph, whether you should take the Math Placement Exam or instead attend the Math Advising Session at Orientation. If you need to take the Math Placement exam, please do so no later than the Sunday before start of the fall semester (sample test questions and solutions also can be found online.) Even if you think you will never take calculus, you are strongly urged to take the exam, because you may not yet know all the requirements for your planned major, or may later change your major to one that requires calculus.
You do not need to take the placement exam if you earned a score of 3 or better on the Calculus AP Exam (AB or BC); a score of 5 or better on the Higher Level Mathematics International Baccalaureate Exam; or a grade of C or better in a calculus course taken at a college or university. If your score exempts you from taking the Math Placement Test, you must attend the Math Advising Session during Orientation. If you have taken an AP or IB exam but do not receive your score before the start of fall semester, you should take the Math Placement Exam. Transfer Students who have taken courses beyond calculus should attend the Math Advising Session during Orientation.
All students who plan to take chemistry for their academic major and/or for preparation for the health professions are required to take the Chemistry Placement Test prior to Orientation. Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam will be advised during Orientation about their placement process.
All students must achieve Language 102-level proficiency in a language other than English by the end of their third year as part of Occidental’s Core requirements. Some majors or minors may have additional language requirements. Students may not take Language 101 for credit if they have taken more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12).
Students who plan to begin an entirely new language at Occidental are not required to take a placement exam. First-year students may take the placement exam for French, German, and Spanish online or during orientation for other languages taught at Occidental if:
- they have taken more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12);
- they have participated in after-school or weekend language programs; or
- they have extensive background in but no formal training in a language.
Students can fulfill Occidental’s language requirement in one of five ways:
- Completing an Occidental language course numbered 102, or the equivalent course in any foreign language at another accredited institution.
- Receiving an exemption-level score on Occidental’s placement and/or exemption exam given during Orientation.
- Earning an appropriate SAT II score (560 or above on French, Spanish, or Latin; 550 or above on German or Chinese; 540 or above on Japanese; or 560 on any other language).
- Earning an Advanced Placement test score of 4 or above.
- For some languages not taught at Occidental, students may opt to take the ACTFL oral proficiency interview and the writing proficiency test in the languages currently available. Please see the Keck Language and Culture Studio about demonstrating proficiency via ACTFL interviews and tests. STUDENTS WHO HAVE TAKEN MORE THAN ONE YEAR OF SPANISH IN H.S. CANNOT TAKE SPAN 101 FOR CREDIT.
Foreign Language Exemption Policy
International students whose language of education has been in a language other than English and who have completed six years of elementary education or more in a foreign language are exempt from the foreign language requirement. Such students should contact the chair of one of the foreign language departments to confirm their fulfillment of the foreign language requirement.
Students interested in beginning the music theory sequence of courses (Music 150 and above) must either pass the music theory placement examination, administered during Orientation, or have earned a 3 or higher on the music theory AP exam (a 4 is necessary to begin the sequence at Music 151). Please check the placement exam schedule you receive at Orientation - the music theory placement test is typically not given on the same day as most other placement exams
M-F 9:00-5:00 PM
Registration Week 8:00-5:00 PM