Mathematics and Language Placement Tests
Oglethorpe uses placement tests to ensure that new students register for the appropriate level of courses in language, math, science and engineering. Please note that placing into a course level is distinct from earning the credit hours associated with any pre-requisite(s).
Frequently Asked Questions
Who has to take the language placement test?
All new students do! If you have any experience in Spanish, French, German, or Japanese, then you must do language placement. (The only students who would not take the test are those who have never studied any of these four languages, e.g. you have only ever taken Latin or Mandarin Chinese.) It doesn’t matter what your intended major is, whether you took advanced language classes in high school, etc. There is no penalty for a low score and nothing to lose by giving it a shot.
Who has to take the math placement test?
Only students with the following intended major(s): Engineering; Mathematics; any of the natural sciences such as Biology, Biopsychology, Chemistry or Physics; or students who are undecided but who will potentially choose one of these majors. If you are interested in a pre-health advising track such as medicine or veterinary science, you must take the math placement test. All undecided students are strongly urged to take the test.
But I took AP or IB classes, or I was dual-enrolled. Surely I am exempt?
No, all first-time Oglethorpe students are expected to take the language placement test, and also the math placement test if required for your major. AP and IB scores are not available until later in the summer, after you have already been registered for courses.
Once your AP or IB score report arrives and is processed by Oglethorpe, however, it will be considered equivalent to a college transcript, and qualifying scores may result in credit hours at Oglethorpe. You can always adjust your class schedule at a later time, if your AP or IB scores result in college credit. Note that if you earn AP or IB credit for Calculus I, then you must register for the next college calculus class for which you are eligible (typically Calculus II). In other words, you may not repeat at OU the same content that you have earned via your AP or IB score.
I got a really good math sub-score on the ACT or SAT, is that enough for placement into General Biology or Calculus I?
Since fall 2012, Oglethorpe only recognizes two forms of math placement: 1) the proctored test given online or on campus, or 2) an official college transcript (or AP or IB equivalent) showing that you have completed the pre-requisite math course. We no longer use ACT or SAT scores for math or science placement. We do not require or accept SAT II subject test scores for either math or language placement.
I am a transfer student. Do I have to take the placement tests?
The short answer is yes, it is a good idea to do so; but you can research the course(s) on your college transcript(s). If your transcript already reflects credit for courses such as introductory foreign language or pre-calculus, you may be eligible for language/math/science registration without needing the placement test. If you are a transfer student with specific questions about your circumstances, please contact us.
What are the tests like?
You will take the placement tests on a computer. Both math and language are computer-adaptive, which means that the test will present you with questions of different ability levels and adapt the level of each new question based on your previous response. In other words, the test will attempt to “zero in” on your actual ability level by asking questions both above and below your ability range, and the number of questions presented will likely vary from student to student. Students typically need 30-60 minutes to complete each test.
The language placement test is called WebCAPE and was developed by Brigham Young University. The math placement test is called ACCUPLACER and is a product of The College Board, Inc.
Can you tell me more about ACCUPLACER? How should I prepare?
This is a nationally-normed standardized test called the Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics Test. It covers high school algebra and trigonometry. The College Board offers free preparation options. They also have a paid smart-phone app and a web-based app available to help you study.
This past year, many students blew off the test, did not study, and placed poorly. They were not able to start their college careers in the courses they wanted. Instead, they spent the year re-learning and re-mastering mathematics skills from high school. This is a waste of time and tuition dollars. Do not let it happen to you! Take time to study for OU’s math placement test.
Can I take the tests online?
You can take the Spanish, French and German placement tests online, on your own time and in a location of your choice. The Japanese test is not internet-based, although you can request and submit it by email. The math placement test is available to you online anytime for a proctoring fee, and you must have a computer set-up that meets the technical requirements as well as a whiteboard and marker. The test will also be available free of charge in a proctored environment on Oglethorpe’s campus on multiple dates throughout the spring and summer. Sign up to take the Math Placement Test on campus!
How do I take the math placement test online from home?
Click the button at the top of this page above to schedule proctoring online through ProctorU. Remember that you will incur a fee to complete the test on your own. You will also need a whiteboard and marker, and a computer set-up that meets ProctorU’s technical requirements.
When can I take the math placement test on campus?
If you are unable to take advantage of online proctoring, you will need to complete the math placement test on campus during one of our testing dates. If you are enrolling for the summer term or are a continuing Oglethorpe student, please contact the Academic Success Center to inquire about opportunities for proctoring. During on-campus proctoring, we will provide scratch paper; you will not need a whiteboard.
Can I bring a calculator for the math placement test?
No, you will not be allowed to bring a calculator into the proctoring environment. If the ACCUPLACER test-writers decided that a calculator would be useful for a particular question, then a calculator icon will appear on your screen, and you may use it only for the related problem. The icon will disappear after that problem unless the subsequent question is also approved for calculator use. You will be allowed to use scratch paper and a pencil, which Oglethorpe will provide in the computer lab. Outside resources are prohibited.
Can I use scratch paper during the math placement test?
If you are taking the test online via ProctorU, you must use a whiteboard and marker for your scratch work. This is the only way the proctor can ensure that your scratch work is destroyed at the end of the exam, as required by Accuplacer. Please make sure to have a whiteboard and marker ready at your scheduled online test time. If you are taking the test on campus, the OU proctor will provide paper and pencil (not a whiteboard), and will collect your scratch work at the end of the test.
What if I’m not currently planning to major in math or science, but I might change my mind later?
Any entering student may take the math placement test, but it is only required for certain intended majors. The placement result will determine which math or lab science courses you are eligible to take, especially as you begin sequences in math, engineering or natural science. It’s a good idea to sign up for the placement test if you think you might want, or need, to take math-based classes later on in college.
Can I take the tests more than once?
You should only plan to take the language placement test once.
You may take the math placement test up to two times before the start of the semester. This may be via online proctoring from home (pay a fee each time), via free proctoring on campus at Oglethorpe, or a combination of both.
My math placement result is low. How will I stay on track for my intended major?
Your compass advisor will help you make sense of your four-year planning options, whether you are eligible to begin mathematics at OU in MAT-120, MAT-130, or a higher level. For students who would like to get a jump start on their college mathematics sequencing, Oglethorpe offers a summer Intensive Math Option during the month of July/early August. This is one way to get a head start on the pre-/co-requisites for fall courses in science/math majors. Visit the IMO page to learn more and to register (you must have completed math placement first in order to determine eligibility).
So the language test is not proctored. Does that mean it is open-book, open-notes?
No. You should consider the placement test as part of Oglethorpe’s academic honor system, and you should not use any notes, textbooks or online tools. The test is designed to assess your ability level in a foreign language as accurately as possible. It is against your best interest to use outside resources as you complete the online test. If you use a grammar or vocabulary source as you go, you’ll artificially inflate your placement recommendation, and you’ll risk being placed in a course that you cannot pass. It’s better to place into introductory Spanish and earn an A or B, than to sneak your way into intermediate or advanced Spanish and earn a D or F.
Can I switch languages from high school to college?
Absolutely. The introductory language courses (CHI-101, FRE-101, JPN-101, LAT-101, GER-101, or SPN-101) are open to anyone, no placement test required. For example, if you took Spanish in high school, you should still take the Spanish placement test. But no matter what the results are, you may register for Elementary Japanese I in the fall. There is nothing committing you to continue a certain language at Oglethorpe. The 101-level courses do not have any pre-requisites.
What if I took Latin in high school, or Chinese? Doesn’t OU offer those, too? Why no placement test?
Oglethorpe frequently teaches Latin and Chinese, but there are not always courses scheduled every semester at every level.* Typically they are only taught through Elementary Il. If Latin or Chinese is the only language you have ever studied in school, then you are currently exempt from the language placement test for new students. You have a couple of options: 1) you may choose to return to intermediate level if it is offered in the future; 2) you may begin in the 101 level of another language; or 3) you may inquire about cross-registration at another area university. If you have AP or other exam credit that qualifies above the 102 level (Elementary II), you will still need to complete language coursework at the intermediate level; if this is at Oglethorpe and not through cross-registration, then it will have to be in a language other than Latin or Chinese.
I placed into SPN-102, but all I see on the fall course schedule are 101s and 201s. What will I do when I register?
Oglethorpe typically teaches all 101, 201, and 301 sequences in the fall semester, and all 102, 202, and 302 sequences in the spring semester. If your placement results are for 102, then you have two options. You could always register “down” a level and take SPN-101. Although some material will be familiar, you would not have a gap in your practice in that language, and you could continue to 102 in the spring. Or, you could wait it out in the fall and let 102 be the first language course you take at Oglethorpe.
I took Arabic/Italian/another language. Do I have to take a language placement test?
No. If the only language you have studied is not French, German, Japanese or Spanish, you do not need to take a placement test. If you are interested in continuing to study the language you have begun, talk with your advisor or the registrar about cross-registration at other universities through ARCHE (Atlanta Regional Council on Higher Education).