With few exceptions, placement in the language sequence is determined by a combination of placement exam scores and semesters of high school language study.  Therefore most students entering Southwestern take a placement examination in a foreign language. A high placement may exempt students from some or all of the language requirement. Placement tests may be taken in more than one foreign language.

International students whose native tongue is not English may satisfy the foreign language requirement by scoring at least 570 (paper) or 230 (computer) on the TOEFL exam.

Also, students with an advanced proficiency in a language not taught at Southwestern may be able to test in that language if an exam can be found to administer.

Who Must Take the Exam?

Most incoming students are required to take a short exam to determine their level in the language sequence. There are five exceptions to this requirement: 1) students who did not study a foreign language in high school at all; 2) students who studied a foreign language in high school that is not offered at Southwestern; 3) students who are certain they will study a language offered at Southwestern that is different from the one they studied in high school; 4) students who are transferring college-level foreign language credit from another institution.

If you have advanced proficiency in a language not taught at Southwestern, you may contact Dr. Bill Christensen at christew@southwestern.edu to see what arrangements can be made to test you in that language.

Please note that having taken the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam does not exempt you from taking the placement exam if you plan to continue studying at Southwestern the language you studied in high school.

Also note that even if you are certain you will study a language at Southwestern you did not study in high school, it is nevertheless highly advisable that you go ahead and take the placement test in the language you have studied. Taking the test in no way commits you to continue in that language, and if you place high enough you may earn course credit and thereby save time and tuition money in completing your degree plan.

Credit Granting

For students who take the AP language exam and score 4 or 5, or who take the IB language exam and score 6 or 7, 4 hours will be awarded. The maximum credit that will be awarded for a combination of and AP or IB language exams is 8 hours.

Where to Take the Chinese, French, German, and Spanish Placement Exams

The link to the exams for these three languages is at the bottom of this page. The password is “pirates1”. But  please read the preceding instructions before clicking on that link.

Once you are authenticated, select the language exam you want to take from the drop-down menu and click the “Begin” button. In the registration form, fill in your last name and first name. For the id number, enter your Southwestern id number. This is very important, since this is how we will ID you when we enter the results in our database. Also, be sure to supply the information about your language background. Then proceed to the exam.

When you finish it, you will be taken to a page with your exam results. There is no time limit on the exam, though students rarely take more than 25-30 minutes to finish.

The exam is only to be taken once. Although nothing will prevent you from retaking it, each set of results is time stamped, and the ip address of the computer from which you take the exam recorded. We will only accept the first score. Remember also that you are bound by the honor code while taking this test, and doing it once for practice under an assumed name is not permissible. If, however, something happens while you are taking the exam (your browser crashes, the power goes off, etc.) don’t hesitate to retake it.

No books or outside help of any kind are to be used in this exam.

Take the placement exam

Where to Take the Latin Placement

The Latin placement exam is here. You will use your SUeID and password to log in. (Your SUeID is your Southwestern email address minus the “@southwestern.edu”.) Note that you will be prompted to “enroll” in that “course”. This is normal, and you must do so in order to take the exam.

No books or outside help of any kind is to be used in this exam.

When to Take the the Placement Exam

You may take the exam beginning now. It is available 24/7. The deadline for taking the exam is one week before the Sprog Day you have signed up for. But please take it as early as possible to ensure a smooth registration process. If you do not attend one of the on-campus registration events, please take the exam before you arrive for Orientation in August, preferably in June or July. (If you don’t take it over the summer, it will be one more thing you will have to do the day of Orientation check-in.

Contact Info, in Case You Have Problems or Questions

If you have a question or problem concerning the placement exam in French, German or Spanish that is not addressed in the instructions above, or the FAQs below, contact Dr. Bill Christensen at christew@southwestern.edu .

For technical problems or questions concerning the Latin exam contact Melanie Hoag (hoagm@southwestern.edu).

Please use your Southwestern email account for all inquiries.

Results and Registration

Your placement will be determined using the results from the placement exam you will take combined with the number of semesters of HS language you have taken.

These results will be communicated to your adviser for use during registration.


If you have a documented disability and need accommodations for any placement exam, please contact the Center for Academic Success, at 512-863-1286. Requests for accommodations should be made immediately. Our personnel can guide you through the process of submitting appropriate documentation for accommodations.


  • A: No, you fall under one of the exceptions to the placement exam requirement.

  • A: No, you fall under one of the exceptions to the placement exam requirement. However, consider this option carefully. There are potential advantages to continuing with the language you have studied. You may be able to earn course credit and thereby avoid some tuition expenses.

  • A: Yes. Take it, and do the best you can. You may surprise yourself. In any case, the worst that can happen is that you will place into first semester.

  • A: Great! Just take the exam for your first language and then take the one for your second language.

  • A: No. You are not receiving a grade when you take this exam. It is intended only to assist us in placing you at the most appropriate level in the language sequence.

  • A: Yes. Take it, and do the best you can. You may surprise yourself. In any case, the worst that can happen is that you will place into first semester.