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, 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?
Everyone needs to take the Mathematics Placement Test. Students who earned a 5 on the AP Chemistry exam are exempt from the Chemistry Placement Test, but anyone else planning to take General Chemistry should complete it. Take language placement test(s) if you have prior study in a language, even if you don't expect to resume coursework here. (Note: language placement tests are not intended for native speakers.)
These placement tests are found on Canvas. When you log in, you'll see that you're enrolled in two "courses" - one for the Math and Chemistry placement tests and one for the language placements. These tests will be available the week of May 13 and should be completed by July 19. After placement tests are scored, your results will be viewable in your Student Portal by August 1.
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 and Chemistry 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 by July 19th 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.
Advanced Placement Exam Credit
You must take the Mathematics Placement Test over the summer regardless of your math plans and regardless of your AP scores. This is an online test that will determine which math level is most appropriate for you. It includes material in pre-calculus, differential calculus, and integral calculus. You may find that you're not familiar with all the material you encounter, and that's okay. Just complete as much as you possibly can so that the Math department can accurately gauge your prior knowledge and get you into the best course. The Mathematics Placement Test will place you into one of the following courses (for descriptions of each, see here):
- MATH 11200 Studies in Mathematics I/MATH 13100 Elementary Functions and Calculus I
- MATH 15100 Calculus I
- MATH 15200 Calculus II
- MATH 15300 Calculus III
If you place directly into MATH 15200 or 15300 and successfully complete that course, you will earn credit for the prior course(s) in the MATH 15000s sequence. If you place into MATH 15300 Calculus III, you may also be invited to take the Higher-Level Mathematics Exam. This is a written exam administered on campus during Orientation Week, and it's appropriate for students with higher-level mathematics training who hope to place beyond the Calculus level.
If you are eligible to take this exam, you will receive additional information via email in August. In the meantime, you should request MATH 15300 or MATH 16100 for Autumn quarter. If you're successful on the Higher-Level Mathematics Exam, you can work with your College Adviser during Orientation Week to adjust your schedule.
The following AP and IB scores offer conditional placement, meaning you must still take the online Mathematics Placement Test to confirm that this is the 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.
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 should take the online Chemistry Placement Test over the summer. The Chemistry Placement Test can place you into any of the three available levels of General Chemistry (see descriptions of each here):
- CHEM 10100 Introductory General Chemistry I
- CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I
- CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I (Invitation only)
If you have the following AP score and plan on taking General Chemistry, you are not required to take the online placement exam:
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:
- Skip CHEM 11100 in the Autumn and start with CHEM 11200 Comprehensive General Chemistry II in Winter quarter.
- Skip CHEM 11100 in the Autumn and start with CHEM 12200 Honors General Chemistry II in the Winter quarter. (Students considering this are strongly encouraged to self-review material prior to starting CHEM 12200.)
- Forfeit credit for CHEM 11100 and take CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I or CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I in Autumn quarter.
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):
- PHSC 12300 Chemistry for an Alternative Energy Economy
- PHSC 12400 The Chemistry of Big Problems
- PHSC 12500 Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease
Chemistry Accreditation Exam
Chemistry offers two accreditation exams during Orientation Week. These are available to students who have taken relevant coursework at a university and who 1) wish to earn credit for General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry by validating their prior knowledge or 2) need a placement higher than those offered through AP or the online placement exam. These exams are 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:
- PHYS 13100: Mechanics
- PHYS 14100: Honors Mechanics (invitation only)
Students who believe their placement should be revised are encouraged to speak with a departmental counselor 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:
- MATH 13300 or MATH 15300 or MATH 16300 or BIOS 20151 or BIOS 20152 or BIOS 20172 or BIOS 20236
- CHEM 11300 or 12300
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. (Not sure how to do that? See here.)
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 the following scores on AP or IB Biology, you will receive credit for BIOS 10130 Core 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 Core 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.
Language Placement Tests
Language placement is different than, though related to, the Language Competency requirement. If you decide to take courses in a language in which you have previous experience, an official placement is a necessary first step. You will not be allowed 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). A number of languages offer online placement tests in Canvas. If you have background in a language that is neither English nor your native language, we encourage you to take the online placement test even if you are not currently planning to continue your studies in that language.
If your language is taught at UChicago but doesn't offer an online placement test, or if you have questions about your placement, you should speak with the appropriate language coordinator during Orientation Week. Your College Adviser will have information about available consultation hours.
Placement tests do not award credit.
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.