University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance

Placement and Exemption Exams

Placement Exams

Exemption Exams

Placement Exams

To make sure you choose courses that are appropriate for your skill level, you will take placement exams before you register for classes. Placement tests can only be taken once, so make sure you take these assessments seriously and give them your best effort. The Math, Writing, and Foreign Language Placement Exams are offered online and must be taken before your orientation session. If you are ready to take your placement exams, please read the directions before you start.

  Math Placement Exam

You must take the online Math Placement Exam before attending your orientation session. All students (first-years and transfers) take this exam because math courses are required for a large majority of majors at the university.  The Math Placement Exam covers the basics of algebra, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry. It will ensure that you choose the right courses for your skills, which is essential for your success. Even if your major has no relation to math, some General Education courses have a prerequisite based on this exam, and all students need to fulfill the Basic Math Skills (R1) and the Analytical Reasoning (R2) requirements. There is a separate optional exemption exam for R1.

First year students admitted for the fall semester must take the Math Placement Exam before you can sign up for RAP. You will need to allow 48 hours between when you take the placement exam and when you register for RAP.

  Writing Placement Exam

First-year and transfer students must also take an essay exam before attending orientation. This online essay exam is used to determine placement in first-year writing courses. All new students must complete the Writing Placement Exam unless you:

  1. received a combined total of 1460 or more on the Critical Reading and Writing Sections of the SAT
  2. received a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Language and Composition Test OR
  3. took a writing course at another institution that the University has accepted for credit to fulfill the CW general education requirement.

Students who have taken the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test must still take the Writing Placement Exam.

  Foreign Language Placement Exams

Students who have studied French, German, Latin, or Spanish for two or more years and will continue with the same language at UMass Amherst, must take the Foreign Language Placement Exam online prior to orientation. If you are in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, or seeking a BA in the College of Natural Sciences you will have a foreign language requirement and you should take the foreign language placement exam.

Additional information on Foreign Language requirements and placement exams for other languages will be reviewed during your orientation or transfer registration session.

Exemption Exams

Based on your placement exam results, you may be encouraged to take an exemption test in Math and/or Foreign Language, and you may be invited to apply for a waiver from the First-Year Writing Requirement. Exemption exams are taken to earn exemption from a requirement and/or credit.

  Math Exemption Test

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics coordinates the Math Exemption Test offered multiple times each semester. If you wish to satisfy your R1 requirement without taking a course and without earning credit, you may take the Math Exemption Test. You will still need to take the Math Placement Exam before you attend orientation. The Math Exemption Test will not place you into a level of Math or give you credits. A passing score will exempt you from the R1 requirement only.

First-Year Writing Waiver

The Writing Program oversees the application process for the First-Year Writing Waiver. Based on their performance on the Writing Placement Exam, select students may be asked to submit a portfolio of their writing to waive the CW requirement without credit. Portfolio submissions are by invitation only, and you cannot apply if you place into Englwrit 111 (Basic Writing) or Englwrit 112 (College Writing).

  Foreign Language Exemption Exams

During your New Students Orientation session you will have the opportunity to take an exam for exemption from a foreign language college requirement in French, German, Latin, or Spanish. Students who take the German or Spanish exemption exam may also earn credit based on their results. 

The exemption exams are also offered during the first week of each semester. Email or call (413-545-2621) the NSO office two weeks before the semester begins for more details.

Students may only take this exam ONCE. We suggest that students take at least 3 years of language courses before they attempt the exemption test.

If you wish to take a placement or exemption test in a language other than French, German, Latin or Spanish, contact the Humanities and Fine Arts Advising Center to set up an appointment:

Humanities and Fine Arts Advising Center
E-20 Machmer Hall
413-545-6152
advising@hfa.umass.edu