Placement Exams

A student studies in the library

Everything you need to know about placement exams

Placement exams are offered for chemistry, math (calculus), music theory, and foreign languages. While many of the exams are available online throughout the year, a few are only offered during Orientation. For the exams that are available online, we ask that new students take them during the summer prior to their first semester.   

In some cases, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or SAT II scores may also be used to determine your placement. These scores must be sent directly from the testing agency to our Registrar’s Office before registration. Once the scores have been received by Occidental, contact the Advising Center for more information about your placement.

Students with a documented disability or learning difference may qualify for extended time when taking a placement exam. For more information, please contact the office of Disability Services for more information. 

The chart below indicates whether an exam is available online during the summer or if it is only offered during Orientation. If the exam is available now, you will find a link to the exam page in the chart. 

Note: You will need your Occidental username and password to log-in to the online exams.

 

Subject

Placement Exam

Chemistry

Online Exam; new students should take this exam prior to August 7

Mathematics (Calculus)  

To take the online Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS), visit the Math Department's Placement page.

Music Theory

Online Exam available from July 27-31, 2020. 

Languages

Arabic

Please contact Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody for more information.

Chinese

Online Exam; See full details here

French

Online Exam; new students should take this exam prior to registering for classes.

German

Online Exam; new students should take this exam prior to registering for classes.

Japanese

Online Exam; See full details here.  New students should take this exam prior to registering for classes.

Latin

Please contact Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody for more information.

Russian

Online Exam; See full details here.  New students should take this exam prior to registering for classes.

Spanish

Online Exam; new students should take this exam prior to registering for classes.

Placement Information by Subject

Do I need to take a placement exam? 

In general, students who plan on taking a course in math, chemistry, music, or a foreign language should take a placement exam. That said, there are some exceptions! If you're studying a foreign language for the first time, you can enroll in 101-level course without taking a placement exam. Also, in some cases an AP, IB, or SAT II score may be used for placement, making the placement exam unnecessary. For more information, we recommend watching these informational videos and also reading the relevant section(s) below.

 

 

 

 

How do I check my placement score(s)?  

Note: New students may not be able to access Grades & Academic Records until mid-July. 

After you have taken an online placement exam, your score will be visible in our student record system within approximately 24 hours. (Scores are processed during the morning on most weekdays, so you may have to wait longer if you take the exam during the weekend.) The Math and Chemistry placement exams display the placement results immediately upon completion, while the French, German, and Spanish exam results are only visible by following the steps below.

If you have taken SAT II, AP, and/or IB exams that you wish to use for placement, you must have the scores sent directly to Occidental by the relevant governing body. (For example, the SAT II and AP is administered by the College Board.) Once the scores are received and processed by the Registrar's Office, you should be able to see your placement by following the steps below. If your score is does not appear, it may still be in process. If you have additional questions about submitting standardized test scores, please contact the Registrar's Office at registrar@oxy.edu.

To check your scores:

  1. Log into my.oxy.edu using your username and password.
  2. Select Academics.
  3. Select Grades & Academic Records.
  4. Select Placement Results. Your placement results should appear in a table at the bottom of the screen (see examples below). Remember that it may take up to 72 hours for online placement exam scores to appear in this view.

Examples of Placement Results

Example of Placement Results

Example of Placement Results

 

 

 

Chemistry

All students who plan to take chemistry at any point during their time at Occidental are required to take the online Chemistry Placement Test prior to Orientation. Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam have the option of enrolling in CHEM 130 without taking the placement test, but are encouraged to contact the department chair if they have questions about this placement.

Mathematics

The Math Department offers an online placement exam for calculus. AP and IB exam scores can also be used to determine placement in either calculus or statistics. Please note that the calculus placement exam will only place students in a calculus 1 or precalculus course. Students who have taken an AP or IB calculus exam should instead use the resulting score to determine placement. Students who have taken a college-level calculus course at another institution should contact the Math Department chair for additional guidance.

Please see the Math Department’s Placement page for additional information and the online placement exam.

Music Theory

Students who have not previously studied music theory should enroll in Music 101. Students with previous experience should take the music theory placement test, which is available online from July 27-31, 2020 (see link at the top of this page). 

French, German, and Spanish

As part of Occidental's Core Requirements, all students must achieve 102-level proficiency in a language other than English by the end of their third year. (Some majors or minors may have additional language requirements.) Students who plan to begin an entirely new language at Occidental should start at the 101-level and are not required to take a placement exam. Note: Students may not take a 101-level language course for credit if they have studied that language for more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12).

You should take a placement exam if:

  • you  have taken more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12);
  • you have participated in after-school or weekend language programs; or
  • you have extensive background in, but no formal training in a language.
  • you did NOT receive a qualifying score on an AP or or SAT II exam (see chart below).

To take the Spanish, French, or German online placement exams you will need to log in to Moodle using your Occidental username and password. Completion of each test is limited to 1 hour and 10 minutes and it must be taken in one sitting.

Using SAT II and AP Scores for Placement

Students who have taken an SAT II or AP exam in French, German, or Spanish may be able to use their score for placement instead of taking Occidental's placement exam. Please note that the official AP or SAT II test scores must be received by Occidental from the testing agency before you can be registered in the relevant course.

Language

201-level course

202-level course

French

AP 4;
SAT II (either)
560 or above

AP 5;
SAT II (either)
690 or above

German

AP 4;
SAT II (either)
550 or above

AP 5;
SAT II (either)
680 or above

Spanish

AP 4;
SAT II (either)
560 or above

AP 5;
SAT II (either)
690 or above

Please see the Language Study & Placement page for additional information about language placement exams.

Satisfying the Requirement with Existing Proficiency

If you are placed in a 201-level course or above, you may be able to satisfy the Core Foreign Language Requirement without taking any additional course work.

  • If you were placed into a 201-level or higher course by an SAT II or AP score, you are automatically exempted from the requirement.
  • If you were placed into a 201-level or higher course by Occidental's Online Placement Exam, you will need to take an additional Exemption Exam. For information, please contact Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody.

All students are welcome and encouraged to study languages, even if they have fulfilled their requirement using existing proficiency!

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.

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Latin, and Russian

As part of Occidental's Core Requirements, all students must achieve 102-level proficiency in a language other than English by the end of their third year. (Some majors or minors may have additional language requirements.) Students who plan to begin an entirely new language at Occidental should start at the 101-level and are not required to take a placement exam. Note: Students may not take a 101-level language course for credit if they have studied that language for more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12).

You should take a placement exam if:

  • you  have taken more than one quarter in college or more than one year in high school (grades 10-12);
  • you have participated in after-school or weekend language programs; or
  • you have extensive background in, but no formal training in a language.
  • you did NOT receive a qualifying score on an AP or or SAT II exam (see chart below).

For placement in Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, please see the links at the top of this page. For information about Latin or Arabic placement, contact Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody for more information.

Using SAT II and AP Scores for Placement

Students who have taken an SAT II or AP exam in Chinese or Japanese may be able to use their score for placement instead of taking Occidental's placement exam. Please note that the official AP or SAT II test scores must be received by Occidental from the testing agency before you can be registered in the relevant course.

 

Language

201-level course

202-level course

Chinese

AP 4;
SAT II w/ Listening 550 or above

AP 5;
SAT II w/ Listening 680 or above

Japanese

AP 4;
SAT II w/ Listening 540 or above

AP 5;
SAT II w/ Listening 670 or above

Please see the Language Study & Placement page for additional information about language placement exams.

Satisfying the Requirement with Existing Proficiency

If you are placed in a 201-level course or above by either an SAT II/AP score or the Orientation placement exam, you are exempt from the Core Foreign Language Requirement. (Note: Some majors may require additional language study.) All students are welcome and encouraged to study languages, even if they have fulfilled their requirement using existing proficiency!

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.

All Other Languages

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 contact Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody about demonstrating proficiency via ACTFL interviews and tests.

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.