Students interested in taking math, foreign language classes, College Writing, or general chemistry at WashU may be required to take placement exams. Most of these exams can and should be taken online during the summer.

Calculus and Math

The Mathematics Department provides a placement exam for all students taking calculus. We ask that all students (Architecture, Art, Art & Sciences, Business, and Engineering) who are planning to take a calculus course during their time at Washington University in St. Louis take this test online.

If you are planning to take Calculus this fall, be sure to take the Placement Exam prior to talking to your adviser and registering for classes.

Questions about Mathematics should be directed to Blake Thornton.

Access the Calculus Placement Exam and Math Department website.

Computer Science

This exam is for students with computer science background or programming experience, regardless of intended major.

You should complete this placement exam if you hope to place out of CSE 131-Introduction to Computer Science. Note that a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Computer Science A exam does give credit for CSE 131.

If you plan to take the CSE placement exam, you should complete this exam before you arrive on campus this fall, but completing it as soon as possible is recommended so you can plan accordingly for your fall course schedule. The CSE department will contact you with the results of your exam within one week after you complete the exam.

The results of this exam will not give you any course units for CSE 131. The outcome will tell you if you already have enough knowledge to bypass taking CSE 131 at WashU.

These are the possible results from this placement exam:

  • you should enroll in CSE 131
  • you are ready to move forward to the next Computer Science course after CSE 131 (and have fulfilled the CSE 131 requirement)
  • you should do a portion of the material in the intro course on your own (to fulfill the CSE 131 requirement) before moving forward to the next Computer Science course after CSE 131

The goal of the placement exam is to help place you in the Computer Science course you are best prepared for.

This exam is meant to assess your knowledge of the material covered in CSE 131-Introduction to Computer Science. While it’s expected that your answers will be in Java, it’s OK to provide code in other languages for the purposes of assessing your knowledge of concepts. You may discuss the exam with an instructor of CSE 131, but asking other people for help is considered an academic integrity violation. You may use any reference text or notes you have, on paper or online, but you may not submit work that is not your own. There is no time limit on this exam but it shouldn’t take you more than 90 minutes.  

For any questions regarding the computer science placement exam, please contact Dr. Ron Cytron.


For Fall 2020, there will not be a dance placement class for incoming students.  Students have the option of self-selecting the class levels that they are interested in taking and feel appropriately fits their skill level. Adjustments may be made during the first week of classes.  

Foreign Language

You will be placed in the appropriate level class based on your placement score, previous study of the language, as well as recommendations from your four-year adviser. Policies for credit vary by department.

You do not need to take the on campus Foreign Language Placement Exam if:

  • You do not wish to study a foreign language.
  • You will be starting a new foreign language.
  • You have taken the College Board Advanced Placement Test or Achievement Test (SAT II) in Russian only, and you plan to continue studying Russian, your score will provide us with the necessary information for placement.

You do need to take a Foreign Language Placement Exam if you wish to continue your study of a language.

The following exams should be taken online prior to speaking to your academic adviser about course registration.

The following exams will be offered on campus during Bear Beginnings:

Arabic, Chinese, Modern Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Urdu

Students must register online through the College of Arts & Sciences to take one of these exams during Bear Beginnings.

If you have studied Classical Greek in high school, please contact the Classics Department for placement information.

General Chemistry Diagnostic

If you are planning to take Introductory General Chemistry I (Chem 105) or General Chemistry (Chem 111A), you are required to take the diagnostic exam. The two-hour timed exam can be accessed from the Chemistry Department website. You will need your WUSTL Key to access this exam.

The exam will be available May 25, 2020 through July 3, 2020.

Questions about Chemistry should be directed to Dr. Jia Luo.

Music Auditions

Music Department auditions will take place at the beginning of the fall semester.

If you wish to participate in department ensembles or private lessons, you must schedule a placement audition. Ensembles include orchestra, wind ensemble, Jazz band, choirs, and more. Visit the Music Department website for more information about ensembles, audition requirements, and to sign up for a placement meeting.

Questions about Music Auditions should be directed to Jamie Perkins, 314.935.3913.


If you need to take the Writing Placement Exam, you will be notified via email in late May with instructions about the online exam. The College Writing Program will notify you and your academic adviser of your placement via email one to two weeks after you complete the exam. It is important you complete this before attending Summer Start, or before you speak with your academic adviser if you are not attending one of those programs. If you are not required to take the exam, your adviser will know your placement by late May.

Semester placement is determined by the College Writing Program and is based on a variety of factors, including participation in varsity athletics, first-year programs through the College of Arts & Sciences, etc. Students in some special programs such as Mind-Brain or Ampersand Ireland take College Writing in the fall semester, while others such as Text & Traditions take it in the spring.

For more information about College Writing or about writing placement, visit the College Writing website or contact the College Writing Program.