Placement Exam Directions

About the Tests

The tests you are about to take use an online system called OWL (Online Web-Based Learning). There are tests for math and writing placement as well as placement into some foreign languages. You will receive one point for each question you answer correctly, and there is no penalty for incorrect answers. No books or other outside assistance are allowed - the work should be entirely your own.

There are no practice tests. Placement exams may only be taken ONCE. Please make sure you read the directions carefully and set aside enough time for each test before you begin.

Math Placement
There are 40 questions broken into two tests, 30 for test Part A and 10 for test Part B. The system will allow you 60 minutes for each part, but the test usually takes much less time than this (normally one hour or less). You may use a calculator.

Remember, the test results will determine your placement in math and some sciences.  Do your best!

Writing Placement
This exam involves reading three articles, writing an essay (1,000 words maximum) in response to them, and then writing a short reflection. You will have a choice between two essay topics. The system allows you up to 72 hours to submit your essay from the time you begin the exam. Students entering in Spring 2017 who complete the writing placement exam by the priority deadlines of December 9 and January 10 will receive their results before coming to NSO.

Foreign Languages
The available foreign languages are listed once you log into the system. Each test has a different number of questions. You will be allowed 60 minutes to complete the test.

*These tests are for placement only - No credits or exemptions will be awarded.

Logging on to OWL

1. To open the OWL login window, click here.
2. Enter your NetID & Password. Then click Log in.
3. Carefully read the information on the Welcome to OWL page, and press Continue.
4. On the next page, verify that your name is correct; you do not need to enter any other information. If correct, press Save.
5. On the Course Home page, read the Announcements and then click Assignment List on the left.
6. On the next page, click the test you want to take. This will take you to the exam itself.

Taking the Test

Some general instructions:

  • To navigate between questions, use the Next Item and Previous Item buttons located in the OWL navigation bar on the left. Also, as you work on the exam you will see a list of questions at the top of the page. You can click on the icon for a particular question to jump directly to that question.
  • Once you have completed an exam, click Assignment List in the navigation bar on the left. This will take you back to the exam list page where you may enter or reenter an exam as long as you have time remaining.

Notes about Math Placement:

  • The two parts of the exam are listed as separate items on the Assignment List page.
  • You should start with Part A first and then advance to Part B. Note that as long as the time has not expired for a particular part you can switch back and forth between parts. Remember, you have one hour to complete each part from the time you begin that part.
  • Remember, the test results will determine your placement in math and some sciences.  Do your best!

Instructions for starting an exam and answering questions:

1. Click on the link for the test you want to take on the Assignment List page.
2. Read the TIMED assignment warning, and click OK. Once you click OK there is NOTHING that you can do to stop the clock.
3. Click on Info Page 1 (first item in the Content/Question column of the table) and read the directions.
4. Click Next Item in the left OWL navigation bar to advance to the first question.
5. Read the question and enter your answer by either checking the correct answer or filling in the blank.
6. Press Submit Answer. A pencil icon will appear next to the question number at the top of the page to show that the question has been answered.
7. If you need to change the answer to a question that you've already submitted, just return to the question, enter your new answer, and then press Resubmit Answer. Only your last submission counts.

Remember: Use the Next Item or Previous Item links on the left to navigate between questions or click on the icon next to the question number in the list at the top of the page. You can switch back and forth between exams by returning to the Assignment List page.

When You Are Finished

The Writing Placement Exam will be scored manually. You will receive an email notifying you of your writing placement.

If you work on the exam until time expires, your grade on the Math or Foreign Language exam will appear automatically on the Assignment List page. If the time has not expired, but you are sure that you are done working, here's how you can view your grade:

1. From the Assignment List page, click on the exam whose grade you want. Or from a question page within an exam whose grade you want, click on the "I've finished the exam." link at the bottom of the page.
2. On the Unit Menu page, press the View Score button.
3. Under the heading, Final Submission for Assignment read the notes to make sure this is what you want to do.
4. Press the Submit Assignment and View Score button.
5. Read the warning box and press OK if you are sure that you want to forfeit any remaining time, or press Cancel if you wish to return to the exam.
6. Your Score is shown in the top left of the Unit Menu page and on the Assignment List page.
7. Repeat for other exams if desired.
8. Write down your score for each exam.