Placement & Proficiency

Placement Exams

Placement exams help to determine the course in which you should enroll if you are continuing your study of a language with which you have had previous experience.  These exams focus on your abilities and knowledge of the language rather than the amount of prior coursework that you have had.  While some of the exams are offered online, the process of determining the proper placement will include a conversation with a placement advisor about your language background.

Incoming students should complete placement exams one week prior to their arrival on campus for orientation.  Students failing to do so may be unable to sign up for a foreign language course until the add/drop period at the beginning of the semester.

Continuing students (those already enrolled at KU) may take placement exams at their convenience.  The results of these exams should be discussed with the department offering the language to determine proper course placement.

German and Russian Placement Exams

Access to the French, German, Russian and Spanish placement exams is provided through your KU Online ID.  Please note that you can only take the placement exam once.  Make sure that you are in a quiet location and have approximately 25 minutes to complete the exam.  If you encounter a technical issue while taking the exam, please contact

At the end of the exam you will be provided with a score and a suggested placement, and a copy of your score will also be provided to you at Orientation.  Descriptions of all courses are provided in the KU Course Catalog.  If you feel that your placement exam results do not reflect your current level of language study, please consult your academic advisor.

Other Slavic and Eurasian Languages

Unfortunately, we currently do not offer standard placement or proficiency exams for other Slavic languages online. Please get in touch with our Language Program Coordinators to take a test. 

Proficiency Exams

Proficiency exams allow undergraduate students to gain exemption from the Non-English Language Proficiency requirement in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences by establishing that their ability in a second language is equivalent to that of someone who has studied that language for four semesters at the college level.

Proficiency exams are intended for students with knowledge of a second language that cannot be documented through academic transcripts. That knowledge may have been gained through time abroad, attending high school where the primary language of instruction was not English, or through regular contact with speakers of a second language at home or in the community at large. Proficiency exams require testing in reading, writing, speaking and listening in a second language.

Native Speakers of English

If you are a native speaker of English and wish to prove proficiency in a second language, there are two paths:

  • If you wish to claim proficiency in a language taught at KU, you should consult the department offering that language.  If there is an online placement exam available for that language, you should take that exam first to get a sense of how your knowledge corresponds to the levels of instruction at KU.  Completion of a course at the fourth semester of language study (or above) is also sufficient to fulfill the four-semester language requirement.
  • If you wish to claim proficiency in a language not taught at KU, you should contact College Advising & Student Services.

Native speakers of a language other than English

If you are a native speaker of a language other than English, it is most likely that your proficiency in a second language can be proved through academic transcripts. This might be as simple as establishing that the language of instruction in your high school was a language other than English, that you have appropriate scores on standardized English tests, or that you have completed required coursework in the Applied English Center.  For more information about requesting exemption from the four-semester requirement, you should contact College Advising & Student Services.

Retroactive Credit

We are presently working on a new, department wide retroactive policy. Until then, for questions about retroactive credit, please email our Director of Undergraduate Studies.