Placement Testing

About Placement Testing


Because students arrive at Yale with varied experience in foreign language, language programs administer a placement test to assist in placing students at an appropriate language course level. Most language programs administer these tests during the opening days of the fall semester, and some also administer tests at the beginning of the spring semester. For several languages (listed below), placement tests are administered online. In smaller language programs, instructors might not hold scheduled placement tests, and instead use other means of assessment such as a brief oral interview with each student. 

Use of Placement Scores

There are five possible scores on a placement test: L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5. L1 indicates that you should start studying the language with the first semester offered in that language, L2 that you should start with the second-semester course, and so on. L5 indicates that you are at some level beyond the fourth semester (it could be third year, fourth year, or beyond), at which time you are eligible to take any advanced-level course in that language (subject to course prerequisites and language program restrictions). These scores not only dictate your starting point for language study at Yale, but also tell you which semesters you will need to complete to fulfill the Foreign Language Requirement. Consult our Foreign Language Requirement page for more information on how your score tells you what you need to do to fulfill the requirement.

In addition to one of these five scores, some placement test results may give you additional information, such as whether you should pursue a "heritage learner" track. If you believe that a heritage or intensive course would suit your background and needs, talk with the language program director or the course's instructor.

Online Placement Testing

For several languages (listed below), placement tests are administered online.

Technical Requirements for Online Testing

Although the System Recommendations page for the online testing software suggests multiple web browsers can be used, we strongly recommend using the latest version of the Google Chrome web browser (download here), based on our experiences. We also recommend using the latest version of MacOS or Windows (not an electronic tablet or phone), as listed on the System Recommendations page. To be sure all requirements are met, a system check will be performed at the beginning of the test and may also be accessed in advance here. If you experience technical issues in accessing or taking the test, please complete the Placement Test Support Form.

Dates for Online Testing

  • Pre-Fall Term Placement Test: All online placement tests are administered at least once annually, during the summer, from July 1st at 9am (EST) through August 15th at 5pm (EST). 
  • Pre-Spring Term Placement Test: For some languages, the online placement test is also offered before the Spring semester.  For 2018, the dates for most languages administering online tests are Tuesday, January 2nd at 9am (EST) through Friday, January 5th at 5pm (Spanish closes on Thursday, January 4th at 5pm), and results will be available by Tuesday, January 9th at 11am (EST).

Steps for Taking the Placement Test

  1. Read this page.
  2. Read the Yale College policy on academic honesty.
  3. Find and read the relevant "Information Page" link (below) for additional placement instructions.
  4. If you will be taking an online test, do the following:
    • Check that all technical requirements (above) are met.
    • When you are ready to take the placement test, if it is within the stated test dates (above), click the relevant "Online Test" link (below), which will be activated just prior to the test administration dates.

Language Specific Information