Step 2: Proficiency & Placement

Based on your high school preparation, you will want to take placement exams to be sure that you are in the correct level -- not too hard, not too easy.  To explore any of the following disciplines, you'll first need to follow the department's proficiency and placement policies.

  • College Writing.  All Arts & Sciences students take L59 100, College Writing, to enhance their argumentative sophistication and to ensure that they are ready to research and write at the level expected of Washington University students.  To create small writing communities, half of the incoming class will take College Writing in the Fall, half in the Spring.  You will find your assigned semester in WebStac (see step 3) listed under the "Unofficial Transcript" link; look above the  "Other Credits" section in the new window that opens, about 1/4 way down the page.  If your see "WPE (Writing Placement Exam) Required," you will need to take the placement exam during Orientation, but you should plan for College Writing to be one of your classes in the Fall.
  • Calculus.  Students who received a 5 on the BC calculus AP exam and wish to continue calculus can enroll directly into Calculus III, L24 233.  All other students should take the calculus preparedness exam for the level at which they expect to begin in the Fall.  Preparedness exams for all calculus levels are found here.  A special note about calculus placements:  to encourage you to challenge yourself, the math department allows students to change levels after the first midterm exam.  For example, if you enroll in Calculus II and find that you need to revisit Calculus I, you can switch even after the semester is underway.  When you select your preparedness exam, therefore, be bold!
  • Chemistry.  Regardless of your chemistry preparation, you will need to take the department's diagnostic exam before enrolling in General Chemistry 111.  This is not a placement exam; rather, it helps the department assess students' skills and knowledge base so that it can tailor the course more accurately for the class as a whole.  The diagnostic can be found here.
  • Dance.  If you want to continue studio dance classes, you will need to take the dance placement class during Orientation.  For more information, see the bottom of this webpage.  For registration purposes, please consult your advisor and/or the dance department to estimate your placement level.
  • Foreign Languages.  Regardless of AP, IB, or British A-Level scores, if you would like to continue to study a specific language, you should take the department's placement exam.  French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish placement exams are online at this link.  All other language placement exams are administered during Orientation.  If you want to continue studying one of this group of languages, for registration purposes, you and your advisor will estimate your level after discussing your language study background.
  • Music.  Students who wish to take voice or instrument lessons should be sure to read the information about placement on the music department's website.  Since music lessons are individually scheduled, it is not necessary to know your placement before registering.
  • Other Subject Placements/AP, IB, and British A-Levels.  Each department has different proficiency and placement policies based on AP, IB, and British A-Level test scores.  For specifics, see the pdfs linked in the middle of this page.