Placement Exams

professor at a chalkboard

Exams to take over the summer

Many students should plan to take one or more placement exams during the summer, though exams are not required for all students. Arts and sciences students and engineering students should look closely to see what tests are applicable to them; education, music, journalism, and communication students will need to take placement tests as well if they plan to enroll in a foreign language, math, or chemistry course at Northwestern. 

All placement exams must be taken online between June 1 and July 31, with the following exceptions: Greek (ancient), Hindi, Japanese, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Urdu, and physics. These exams will take place on campus during Wildcat Welcome on Tuesday, September 13. 

Note: If you need accommodations to complete an exam due to a disability or other condition, register with AccessibleNU before taking the exam. 

Chemistry

If you plan to take either General Chemistry (CHEM 101/121) or Accelerated General Chemistry (CHEM 171/181), you are required to take the ALEKS math skills assessment, even if you took AP or IB exams in chemistry. ALEKS is not a placement exam but an assessment of your readiness for college-level coursework in quantitative disciplines. For more information about ALEKS, visit this site. To take ALEKS, click here and then log in with your Northwestern NetID and password. If you have questions, contact the math department

  • If your ALEKS score is 60 or below, you are required to complete the ALEKS tutorial.
  • If your ALEKS score is above 60 but below 75, the ALEKS tutorial is strongly encouraged but not mandatory. 

If you plan to take any chemistry course at Northwestern, you must take the Northwestern chemistry entrance exam by July 31. This requirement applies to all students, regardless of undergraduate school, major, or scores on any AP, IB, or other college placement exams. Based on their entrance exam or AP score, some students may begin with courses beyond CHEM 101/ 121. 

Learn more on the chemistry page. If you have questions, contact Professor Fred Northrup

Math

If you plan to take a 200-level math course, you are required to take the ALEKS math skills assessment, even if you took AP or IB exams in math. ALEKS is not a placement exam but an assessment of your readiness for college-level coursework in quantitative disciplines. For more information about ALEKS, visit this site. To take ALEKS, click here and then log in with your Northwestern NetID and password. If you have questions, contact the math department

  • If your ALEKS score is 60 or below, you are required to complete the ALEKS tutorial.
  • If your ALEKS score is above 60 but below 75, the ALEKS tutorial is strongly encouraged but not mandatory. 

The McCormick online math placement exam is required for all incoming engineering students only. The link to the exam is provided in the engineering online dossier

Foreign Language

If you studied a foreign language in high school, you should plan to take the Northwestern placement exam in that language unless you have earned an AP score that automatically places you into an advanced course or satisfies the foreign language requirement. Students who took the AP exam can find relevant placement information here. Depending on the language, the placement exam should be taken online no later than July 31, or on campus during Wildcat Welcome. Students with any previous Japanese-language experience who intend to take Japanese at Northwestern should take the placement exam even if they took the AP Japanese exam.

Online Exams

Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Latin, Spanish, Swahili

Take language placement exams here.

On-Campus Exams

Greek (ancient), Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu

Language placement exams will take place during Wildcat Welcome on Tuesday, September 13. 

Physics

The Northwestern physics placement exam is required for students who took the AP Physics exam but hope to enroll in a more advanced course than their AP scores would allow. It is recommended for students who did not take the AP Physics exam but who plan to take College Physics (PHYSICS 130) or General Physics (PHYSICS 135). This exam will take place on campus during Wildcat Welcome on Tuesday, September 13. If you have questions, contact the physics department