What is a placement test?
For subjects offered at multiple levels (e.g. Calculus: MATH 130s Elementary Functions and Calculus, MATH 150s Calculus, MATH 160s Honors Calculus), your placement tells you which level or course is the best fit for you. You will need a placement to enroll in courses in Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, and languages beyond the first-quarter level. You may only register for a course that matches your placement; the placement cannot be changed without express consent of the department. This page will explain how you receive your placement and what that placement means.
Which placement tests do I need to take?
- Math: Every incoming student must take the Mathematics Placement Exam.
- Chemistry: Every incoming student who plans to enroll in a chemistry course while at the University of Chicago must complete the Chemistry Placement Exam. If you are unsure about enrolling in chemistry, you are advised to complete the Chemistry Placement Exam.
- Computer Science: Students with prior experience in Computer Science who want to pursue further study of Computer Science should take the Computer Science Placement Exam. Students who are interested in Computer Science and have no prior programming experience do not need to take the exam and should plan to enroll in CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I.
- Physics: There is no Physics Placement Exam. Students interested in enrolling in Physics will get a placement based on their Math Placement Exam score and any applicable AP/IB scores.
- Language: Take language placement test(s) if you have prior study in a language, even if you don't expect to resume coursework here.
Placement exams will be available on a platform called Canvas starting the week of May 15, and should be completed by July 21. The Computer Science Exam is a separate exam held in July. After placement tests are scored, your results will be visible in your Student Portal by August 11.
What if I need accommodations for the placement tests?
If you have questions about test accommodations, please contact the Student Disability Services office at https://disabilities.uchicago.edu/ immediately.
In some cases, you might receive an invitation to an honors course alongside a standard placement. This comes from AP, and sometimes IB, scores in Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Performance on the placement tests for Mathematics can also merit an invitation to those honors sequences.
This truly is an invitation - you're not required or expected to pick the honors option - but you might find that an honors sequence is a particularly good fit for you. For some considerations when deciding between a standard and honors sequences, see here.
Send in all AP and/or IB scores through the College Board website by July 14 to ensure that your placement is set in time for pre-registration (CEEB #1832). Remember that you can submit the request to College Board/IB before the scores reach you at home, and given the short timeline, we highly recommend you to do that.
You may earn any amount of credit from AP, IB, accreditation, or other examinations. However, at least 3800 of your total 4200 units must be earned through course enrollment. Note if you earned AP/IB credit for a specific course (e.g. CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I) and later enroll in an equivalent course on campus (e.g. CHEM 11100 or CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I), you'll forfeit the test credit for the course in favor of the course enrollment credit.
Placement Exam Credit
- The Online Mathematics Placement Test (must be taken by all entering students)
- The Higher-Level Mathematics Placement Exam
- The Calculus Accreditation Exam
- MATH 10500 Fundamental Mathematics I
- MATH 13100 Elementary Functions and Calculus I
- MATH 15100 Calculus I
- MATH 15200 Calculus II
- MATH 15300 Calculus III or MATH 15250 Mathematical Methods for Economic Analysis or MATH 183 Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences I
- CHEM 10100 Introductory General Chemistry I
- CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I
- CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I
- Take CHEM 11200 Comprehensive General Chemistry II or CHEM 12200 Honors General Chemistry II in the Winter Quarter (students considering CHEM 12200 are strongly encouraged to self-review material prior to starting the course.)
- Forfeit AP credit and take CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I or CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I in the Autumn Quarter.
- PHSC 12200 The Chemistry of Food and Cooking
- PHSC 12400 The Chemistry of Big Problems
- PHSC 12500 Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease
- CHEM 23300 Introduction to Chemical Biology
- CHEM 26100-26200-26300 Quantum Mechanics; Thermodynamics; Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics
- CHEM 20100-20200 Inorganic Chemistry I-II
- CHEM 20300 Chemistry of Materials
- CHEM 26700 Experimental Physical Chemistry
- CHEM 22700 Advanced Organic/Inorganic Laboratory
- CHEM 26800 Quantum Molecular and Materials Modeling
- PHYS 13100: Mechanics
- PHYS 14100: Honors Mechanics (invitation only)
- MATH 13300 or MATH 15300 or MATH 16300 or BIOS 20151 or BIOS 20152 or BIOS 20172 or BIOS 20236
- CHEM 11300 or 12300
- The Online Introduction to Computer Science I Exam
- The Online Introduction to Computer Science II Exam
- The Systems Programming I Exam
- CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I or
- CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science II
- CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science II or
- CMSC 14300 Systems Programming I
- CMSC 14300 Systems Programming I
- CMSC 14400 Systems Programming II
Mathematics Placement Test
At what level does an entering student begin mathematics at the University of Chicago? The College and the Department of Mathematics offer several placement exams to help determine the correct starting point for all entering students. During the summer and through Orientation Week, there are three such exams:
The Online Mathematics Placement Test must be taken (once) by all entering students in the summer prior to matriculation. The other two exams are offered later in the summer, and students may be invited to take one or the other on the basis of their success on the Online Mathematics Placement Test.
It should be noted that all students are eligible to take MATH 11200 Studies In Mathematics I or MATH 11300 Studies In Mathematics-2 (or various other courses in Statistics and Computer Science) in order to satisfy the general education requirement in the mathematical sciences. What follows are the possible placements for students who want or need to take Calculus for their intended major. The first two quarters of Calculus (MATH 13100-13200 or MATH 15100-15200 or MATH 16100-16200 or MATH 16110-16210) also satisfy the general education requirement, as does completion of any higher-level course which then confers back credit for the first two quarters of Calculus.
Solely on the basis of the Online Mathematics Placement Test, the following mathematics courses are the possible Calculus placements for each student:
For complete information on math placements, review the College Catalog. The Department of Mathematics will host an information session and webinar prior to the start of the Autumn quarter to answer questions about your math placement options.
Some AP and IB scores offer conditional placement, meaning you must still take the online Mathematics Placement Test to confirm your appropriate level. If your AP/IB and online placement test results offer different placements, the higher of the two will be considered your official placement. Review the College Catalog for more details on AP and IB credit.
Chemistry Placement Test
If you will take or are considering taking General Chemistry, whether for a particular major, pre-health requirements, or personal interest, you must take the online Chemistry Placement Test over the summer. If you have AP credit for Chemistry you are still required to take the Chemistry Placement Exam.
The Chemistry Placement Test can place you into any of the three available levels of General Chemistry (see descriptions of each here):
Please note that if you receive credit for CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I through AP and plan to take General Chemistry on campus, you have the following options:
Pre-health students: Please note that many medical schools do not recognize AP credit. As such, you may wish to enroll in the first quarter of Chemistry, regardless of your AP credit. If you wish to use your AP credit and skip a quarter of General Chemistry, be aware that you may need to enroll in an additional quarter of upper-level inorganic or physical Chemistry in the future to meet requirements for some medical schools.
If you do not plan on taking General Chemistry and do not plan on majoring in something that requires Chemistry for your Core Physical Science requirement, you have the additional option of combining the AP Credit for CHEM 11100 with one of the following courses to complete your Physical Science requirement (see here for descriptions of each):
Optional Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam
First-year and transfer students with a strong Chemistry background (i.e. those who place into CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I on the Chemistry Placement Test) will automatically be registered to take the Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam (CAPE). This exam is optional. Performing well on this exam and consulting with the Chemistry Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), may qualify placement out of General Chemistry and into more advanced courses such as CHEM 22000 Organic Chemistry I, CHEM 20100 Inorganic Chemistry I, or CHEM 26100 Quantum Mechanics.
If a student is approved to pursue this option, they may substitute quality grades earned in any three of the following courses for their required General Chemistry course credit:
This advanced placement track may fast-track well-prepared students who wish to advance their studies into the various subfields of Chemistry, those who wish to double major or minor in Chemistry, or non-Chemistry majors who wish to enroll in advanced courses that require General Chemistry as a prerequisite. All students will receive an email later in the summer outlining how to sit for the Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam. This exam is only available at the time of matriculation.
While there is no online Physics placement test, students will receive placement into PHYS 13100 if they qualify for MATH 15100 or higher on the Mathematics Placement Test. Invitations to take PHYS 14100 are based on performance on AP Physics exams. Thus, possible Physics placements include:
Students who believe their placement should be revised are encouraged to speak with Stuart Gazes, the Physics Director of Undergraduate Studies (firstname.lastname@example.org) during Orientation Week.
Please note that physics at the 120s level is not permitted for Physics majors. Physics 12100 General Physics I has the following pre-requisites:
If you have the following AP Scores on the Physics C Exam(s), you may be awarded credit for part of the 120s sequence:
If your major requires Physics, double check whether they will accept the 120s or if you need to take 130/140s (you can review major requirements in the College Catalog).
Pre-health students: be aware that many medical schools do not accept AP credit, so you may need to plan to take a year of Physics coursework on campus, regardless. You can talk with your Health Professions Adviser about this after arriving on campus.
Physics Accreditation Exam
If you have not taken the AP exam but wish to earn credit for some of the introductory physics courses, you have the option of taking the Physics Accreditation Exam once on campus. Accreditation examinations are administered for the content of PHYS 12100-12200-12300 General Physics I-II-III and PHYS 14100-14200-14300 Honors Mechanics-Honors Electricity and Magnetism-Honors Waves, Optics, and Heat. Be aware that the first examination can only be taken immediately after matriculation in the College.
If you have earned a 4 or 5 in AP Biology, or a 7 HL in IB Biology, you will receive credit for BIOS 10130 Principles of Biology and an invitation to Advanced Biology. This optional placement is an intensive introduction to the field and a particularly good fit for students interested in biological research.
Students who can use BIOS 10130 for the Principles of Biology requirement can complete the requirement with a Bio topics course (BIOS 11000-19999). For students interested in taking advantage of the Advanced Biology invitation, be aware that the sequence begins in Autumn quarter with BIOS 20234 Molecular Biology of the Cell. See here for more information on all Biological Sciences options.
The College and the Department of Computer Science will offer three placement exams to help students with prior experience in computer science determine the correct starting point:
Students who are interested in Computer Science and have no prior programming experience do not need to take the exam and should plan to enroll in CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I.
The Online Introduction to Computer Science I exam may be taken at most once a year. Solely based on this exam, students may be placed into:
Students who are placed into CMSC 14200 will be invited to take the Online Introduction to Computer Science II exam. This exam may be taken at most once a year. Based on this exam, students may be placed into:
Students who are placed into CMSC 14300 Systems Programming I will be invited to take the Systems Programming I Exam. This exam may be taken at most once a year. Based on this exam, students may be placed into:
Students who are placed into CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science II will receive credit for CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I upon successful completion of CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science II.
Students who are placed into CMSC 14300 Systems Programming I will receive credit for CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I and CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science II upon successful completion of CMSC 14300 Systems Programming I.
Students who are placed into CMSC 14400 Systems Programming II will receive credit for CMSC 14100 Introduction to Computer Science I and CMSC 14200 Introduction to Computer Science I upon successful completion of CMSC 14400 Systems Programming I.
Language Placement Tests
Each year the University of Chicago teaches over 50 different languages. Language placement tests are required of students who plan to continue in languages studied prior to entrance in the University. Placement tests determine where a student begins language study. The results do not confer credit or satisfy the Language Competency Requirement.
In most cases you will not be able to register for courses into which you were not placed, with the exception of the first quarter of an introductory level (in most cases, a 10100 course). Many languages offer online placement tests in Canvas. They also offer placement for heritage language speakers.
For more information about language placement tests, visit Language Placement FAQs.
AP/IB exams in a foreign language do NOT grant placement or credit, though the following scores will fulfill the Language Competency requirement.
The following AP exam scores offer general elective credit, but no placement. Remember that students must earn at least 3800 of their total units via course enrollment.
Be aware that students can earn credit for only one of STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications and STAT 23400 Statistical Models and Methods. Students with a 5 on the AP Statistics exam who later take either course on campus will forfeit the AP exam credit.