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Placement Exams and Assessments

The need to take placement exams depends on your school’s unique requirements and your own course objectives. Placement exams in foreign languages must be completed by June 11 to allow time for departments to schedule proficiency validations during the following week. Placement exams and assessments in biology, chemistry, and math must be completed by June 15. Students admitted after June 11 should contact the departments in which they need to take exams for information on how and when those exams will be administered.

Do you need to take any placement tests this summer?

Below is an overview of the placement exams and assessments Northwestern offers, categorized according to who is typically required to take them. 

Required for All McCormick Students

  • Department of Mathematics math placement exam (see below)
  • Department of Chemistry initial chemistry assessment (see below)
  • Department of Chemistry placement exam—required only for students planning to take CHEM 171, 210, or 212 (see below)
  • See below for details about assessments and exams offered in areas such as foreign language or biology. Depending on your course objectives, you may opt to take one or more of these tests in preparation for the fall.

See McCormick's webpage for more information.

Required for Students Planning to Take Chemistry

  • Department of Chemistry initial chemistry assessment
    • Required for students planning to take any chemistry class in 2021–22, regardless of any AP or IB Chemistry credit earned.
    • Access the assessment by accepting the invitation (emailed in May) to join the Canvas exam page.
  • Department of Chemistry placement exam
    • Required only for students planning to take CHEM 171, CHEM 210, or CHEM 212, regardless of any AP or IB Chemistry credit earned. Students must take the Department of Chemistry initial chemistry assessment before taking the placement exam.
    • Access the placement exam by accepting the invitation (emailed in May and periodically throughout the summer) to join the Canvas exam page.
Any questions? Email f-northrup@northwestern.edu.

Required for Any Non-McCormick Student Planning to Take Calculus

  • Department of Mathematics math placement exam
    • Access the placement exam by accepting the invitation (emailed in May) to join the Canvas exam page.
Any questions? Email calculus@math.northwestern.edu.

Required for Any Student Planning to Continue Foreign-Language Study or to Verify Foreign-Language Proficiency

Regardless of your undergraduate school, if you have previously studied a foreign language, you are encouraged to visit the Weinberg College website to learn more about languages offered at Northwestern, language placement exams, and AP exam score applicability. If you have not previously studied the language you intend to take at Northwestern, the language placement exam is not required. 

Exams and Assessments

Biology Placement Exam 

This exam is recommended for students with a strong background in biology who think they could be ready for  BIO 202 Cell Biology. The exam covers core competencies in the molecular biology subject area and goes further than most high school AP/IB biology classes. Every student receives access to the exam via Canvas and is invited by email starting on May 5.   

Initial Chemistry Assessment

This assessment is required for all students—including students with AP Chemistry credit—who plan to take any chemistry course at Northwestern.  Every student receives access to the assessment via Canvas and is invited by email starting on May 5. For more information, visit the Department of Chemistry website.

Chemistry Placement Exam

This placement exam is required in addition to the initial chemistry assessment for students planning to take CHEM 171, CHEM 210, or CHEM 212, regardless of any AP or IB Chemistry credit earned.  Every student receives access to the exam via Canvas and is invited by email starting on May 5. For more information, visit the Department of Chemistry website.

Language Placement Exam

The language placement exam is required for any student, regardless of school, who plans to continue foreign-language study or needs to verify foreign-language proficiency. For information about the placement exam, proficiency requirements, AP exam score applicability, and language study at Northwestern, see the Weinberg College language requirement webpage .

Department of Mathematics Math Placement Exam

The math placement exam is required for all McCormick students and any non-McCormick student planning to take a calculus course at Northwestern. Every student receives access to the exam via Canvas and is invited by email starting on May 5. For more information, visit the Department of Mathematics website.

Dance Placement Evaluation

Northwestern's Dance Program offers three levels of instruction in ballet, jazz, and modern techniques. Students with limited or no previous dance experience are encouraged to begin with level one, and no evaluation is required. For students with previous dance training, the online dance placement evaluation is recommended. Participating students view choreographed dance videos and then upload videos of themselves performing one or more of the routines shown. The performance of each technique should be recorded and uploaded separately. Performances are not expected to be heavily rehearsed; they are simply a tool to help dance instructors gauge how the Dance Program can best serve you.

If you are interested in taking part in the dance placement evaluation, please complete the following form. Links to choreographed  videos and instruction for how to submit your recordings are included. Click to complete the Dance Placement - Fall 2021 form.

Submissions are due July 12th, and results will be emailed out on July 19th.

If you have any questions, please contact NU Theatre Program Assistant Caitlin Robb via email (caitlin.robb@northwestern.edu).

Exam Accommodations

If you need exam accommodations due to a disability or related condition, please begin the process of registering with AccessibleNU three to four weeks before taking the exam. See the AccessibleNU page for more information.

Canvas Invitations

Canvas is commonly used at Northwestern for accessing course materials, turning in assignments, viewing grades, and handling other academic tasks. You'll use Canvas this summer if certain online placement exams and assessments are required for you. Every incoming student is emailed an invitation to join the Canvas exam page even if no exams or assessments are required.