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 first-year students 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 are placed in 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.

Math is particularly important for students entering the sciences, computer science, engineering, business, and mathematics.  Please take the placement test seriously as it will determine placement into your first math class as well as many science classes.  You can only take the math placement test once, so give it your best effort.

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.

Transfer students should consult the Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation form in their SPIRE Admission Center to determine whether or not they need to take the Math Placement Exam.

  Writing Placement Exam

First-year 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 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Language and Composition Test (NOT the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test); 
  2. Took a writing course at another institution that the University has accepted for credit to fulfill the English Writing 112 (CW) requirement; OR
  3. Took the SAT before March 2016 and scored a 1460 or higher on the combined critical reading and writing sections. See the Writing Program website for more information.

Students who have taken the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Test must still take the Writing Placement Exam. Learn more about the Advanced Placement Exams in English on the College Board website.

Transfer students should consult the Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation form in their SPIRE Admission Center to determine whether or not they need to 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 the first four days of the semester, New Students Orientation proctors foreign language exemption exams in French, German, Latin, or Spanish. Students who take the German or Spanish exemption exam may also earn credit based on their results. 

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