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 and Foreign Language Placement Exams are offered online and must be taken before your orientation session. The Writing Placement Exam is offered during your orientation and at the beginning of each semester. If you are ready to take your placement exams, please read the directions before you start.
You must take the online Math Placement Exam before attending your orientation session. All students should 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 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.
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.
First-year students will also take an essay exam to determine placement in freshman writing courses. This proctored, paper and pencil test takes place during each orientation session. Students are exempt, with credit, from the First-Year Writing Requirement if they received a total of 1460 or more on the SAT Critical Reading and SAT Writing tests, or if they received a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Language and Composition Test. (If a student received a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test, they are not exempted from the First-Year Writing Requirement, but will receive three English credits.)
Based on your placement exam results, you may be encouraged to take an exemption test in Math and/or Foreign Language. Exemption exams are taken to earn exemption from a requirement and/or credit.
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.
Foreign Language Exemption exams will be offered during New Students Orientation and at the beginning of each semester in French, German, Latin and Spanish. At your orientation session you will have the opportunity to take an exemption test for credit or exemption from a foreign language college requirement (except in Latin where you can only earn exemption). We suggest that students take at least 3 years of language courses before they attempt the exemption test. Students may only take this exam ONCE.
The exemption exams are 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.
If you wish to take a placement or exemption test in a language other than French, German, Latin or Spanish, contact the the Humanities and Fine Arts Advising Center to set up an appointment: