Placement Exams

professor at a chalkboard

Exams to take over the summer

Many students plan to take a placement exam during the summer, though they are not required for all students. Students in Weinberg and McCormick should look closely to see what tests are applicable for them; students in SESP, Bienen, Medill, and Communication will need to look at tests if you plan on pursuing a foreign language, math, or chemistry course. 

All placement exams must be taken online between June 1 and August 1 (unless otherwise noted).


If you plan to take a Chemistry course, please read the information below to see if you must complete an online exam during the summer. All placement exams for Chemistry must be taken online between June 1 and August 1. There are several Chemistry courses available to students during the fall quarter:

  • General Chemistry (CHEM 101)
  • Accelerated General Chemistry (CHEM 171)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHEM 210 or 212)

Learn more on the Chemistry page.


ALEKS math skills assessment is required for students planning to take any math courses listed below, regardless of their AP scores in math.

Exam link: Mathematics Website

Calculus course numbers and titles:

MATH 211: Short Course in Calculus
MATH 212: Single-Variable Calculus
MATH 220: Differential Calculus of One-Variable Functions
MATH 224: Integral Calculus
MATH 230: Differential Calculus of Multivariable Functions
MATH 285: First Year Math for MMSS
MATH 290: Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus
MATH 291: Intensive Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus


The Math Placement Exam is required for all McCormick students regardless of AP/IB scores and must be completed by early July. During Wildcat Welcome, you will receive a math placement recommendation based on your exam score.

Foreign Language

If you've previously studied a foreign language (Arabic, Latin, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, German, Hebrew,  Hindi-Urdu, Italian, Persian (Farsi), Portuguese, Russian/Slavic, Spanish, Swahili, or Turkish), and you plan to continue your studies at Northwestern, you'll need to determine at what level to begin. Departments teaching these subjects may also use your scores on the Advanced Placement (AP) Examination and/or SAT II in lieu of a Northwestern placement exam to help you plan an appropriate academic program.

Visit the Foreign Language Placement Exams page for a list of all languages.