Placement Testing


  • Placement inventories and tests help us to make sure you get started in the courses that are right for you.
  • By August 1, we need your placements for foreign language and math.
  • If you're considering a chemistry course or music theory/composition, you should also do the optional placements for those subjects.

Students talking

The Purpose of Placements

Placement tests are not graded and do not become part of your transcript. You and the college use these exams to help figure out where you should start your study in a variety of areas.

Please try not to be anxious about placement tests. Cramming for them is not going to be useful, although it is a good idea to review subjects that you may not have looked at for three months.

Foreign Language Placement (required if you do not have another qualifying exam score)

Before you can register for a foreign language course at Carleton, we need to determine your language placement level. Please complete the language placement process by August 1, even if you do not intend to take a language course this fall. Here's how:

If beginning a new language...

If you wish to learn a language you've never studied before, no placement exam is required. You can simply register for the introductory level of your chosen language.

If continuing a language...

If you've already studied a language and plan to continue, you should take our language placement exam for that language--or submit another qualifying examination score, if applicable. For complete details, see our Foreign Language Placement Testing site.

For more information about foreign language placement, contact Mary Tatge at (507) 222-4252.

If you are proficient in a language other than English...

If you are multilingual, you may be exempt from the language requirement. However, this exemption does not happen automatically. Learn more about the language exemption.

If you have a documented disability...

The College expects all students will fulfill all degree requirements.  Students who anticipate not being able to meet a degree requirement because of a documented disability should contact Disability Services at (507) 222-4080.

Math Placement (required, if planning to take math)

Before you can register for a math course at Carleton, we need to determine your math placement level. Please complete the math placement process by August 1, if you intend to take a math course this fall.

You do not need to take a math placement exam if you:

  • scored 4 or 5 on the AB or the BC Advanced Placement Exam.,
  • scored 5 or higher on the higher-level International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam, or
  • do not plan to take a calculus course at Carleton

If you do need the exam...

The Mathematics department offers three placement tests in math. To select the one right for you, see our Mathematics Placement information.  Questions? Email the Math Department.

Music Placement (optional)

If you are interested in taking music theory or composition, you should take the Music Theory Placement Exam. The location and time will be part of the New Student Week schedule. Results of this exam will determine if you need to take The Materials of Music and Musicianship Lab I (MUSC 110 and 103) or if you place into Musical Structures and Musicianship Lab II (MUSC 204 and 104). For more information, see the Guide for New Students on the Music Department web site.

Music Auditions

Music faculty and staff members use auditions to get an idea of your skill level so they can place you in the right ensemble or, for private lessons, with the right teacher. Be prepared to play or sing a scale, do some sight reading, perform part of a solo or etude you've brought along, and any required excerpts. More information on ensemble auditions.

Chemistry Placement (optional)

If you're considering a chemistry course, use the Self-Administered Chemistry Placement Evaluation to determine which introductory course is right for you.