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General Testing Information

Asymptomatic vs. Symptomatic Testing

On-campus testing is available for students, faculty, staff and visitors age 18 and older. Two types of testing dictate where you should go to be tested. It is important that you understand the difference between these:

Asymptomatic Testing: This is for individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. You may hear this referred to as “Assurance, Recurring or Surveillance” testing.  

Symptomatic Testing: This is for individuals who do have COVID-19 symptoms (“symptomatic”) or who were exposed to COVID-19. You may hear this referred to as “Diagnostic Testing.”


Types of Tests and Collection

Regardless of whether your test is asymptomatic or symptomatic, Northwestern utilizes tests that provide high levels of accuracy, with very low levels of false positive or false negative results.

All asymptomatic testing is done by a self-collected, simple nasal (anterior nasal) swab. Symptomatic testing is done with an NP (nasal pharyngeal) swab.


Consents and Privacy

Testing is a medical procedure, and Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine take your privacy seriously. When registering for your test, either onsite or online, you will be required to sign a Consent for Testing and Diagnosis and Informed Consent to Northwestern's COVID-19 Testing Program.

Please also review NMHC's Notice of Privacy Practices, as well as its independent lab's Privacy Policy and Notice of Privacy Practices.