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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. For those taking more than one exam or assessment, we encourage you to plan in advance so you take no more than one per week. 

Do you need to take any placement tests this summer?

Review your school’s page  first for an overview of expectations. Additional Placement Exams guidance for your school can be found in Purple Prep's mid-May email. Then, view the expandable menus below for an overview followed by exam and assessment descriptions and access links. 

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, 215, 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

How do you know if you need to take a Chemistry course at Northwestern? Review the mid-May Purple Prep email for your school for a helpful breakdown.

Find info about how to access these in the below Exams and Assessments section.

Optional for Students Planning to Take Biology

How do you know if you need to take a Biology course at Northwestern? Review the mid-May Purple Prep email for your school for a helpful breakdown.

  • Biology Placement Exam
    • This optional exam is recommended for students with a strong background in biology who think they could be ready for BIO 202 Cell Biology.
Find info about how to access these in the below Exams and Assessments section.

Required for Student Planning to Take Calculus

How do you know if you need to take a Calculus course at Northwestern? Review the mid-May Purple Prep email for your school for a helpful breakdown.
  • Department of Mathematics math placement exam
    • Required for any non-McCormick student planning to take a calculus course at Northwestern and for all McCormick students, whether or not they have earned credit via AP or IB examination. 
Find info about how to access these in the below Exams and Assessments section.

Required for Students Planning to Continue Studies in Languages Other Than English or to Verify Language Proficiency

Regardless of your undergraduate school, if you have previously studied a foreign language, you are encouraged to visit the Weinberg College website (below) 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. 

Curious if language is a degree requirement for your school? Review the mid-May Purple Prep email for your school for a helpful breakdown.

Exams and Assessments

Once you have reviewed the above section to determine which exams and assessments are relevant to you, find more information on each exam/assessment below, including deadline dates, access links, and contact information.

Biology Placement Exam 

This optional 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. Any student interested in taking this exam should sign up  by July 7, 2022. Those who sign up by the deadline will be able to access and complete the exam on Canvas from July 11-24, 2022. 

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.  The exam is administered on CanvasInvitations to the Canvas site will be sent directly to students starting in mid-May. 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 Accelerated General Chemistry (CHEM 171), Organic Chemistry (CHEM 215), or Organic Chemistry for Majors (CHEM 212), regardless of any credit earned through AP or IB examination.  The exam is administered on Canvas.  Invitations to the Canvas site will be sent directly to students starting in mid-May.

Language Placement Exam

Language placement policies and procedures vary by department and are only applicable to students who have previously studied a language other than English. Language Placement Exams are not administered via Canvas.

Department of Mathematics Math Placement Exam

The math placement exam is required for any non-McCormick student planning to take a calculus course at Northwestern and for all McCormick students. The exam is administered on CanvasInvitations to the Canvas site will be sent directly to students starting in mid-May. 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 2022 form.

The form will be accessible by May 15. Submissions are due June 15.

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

Exam Accommodations

If you need accommodations for an online placement exam or assessments, plan to initiate the AccessibleNU (ANU) application process four weeks in advance of your placement test. Please note that foreign language placement exams are not timed.  

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.