Placement Testing

In an effort to ensure you are registered in the appropriate courses, placement/skills assessments are offered – and some required – by certain departments such as math, English, and foreign languages. Information about these assessments can be found here:

Mathematics Placement Test (Must complete before registering for a math course)

Successful completion of freshman year mathematics is one of the best early indicators of graduation from NC State. For that reason as well as many others, admitted freshmen are required to take an assessment to determine proper placement in math prior to attending New Student Orientation and registering for classes.

North Carolina State University requires an ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) Assessment to determine readiness for mathematics courses. ALEKS PPL is a web-based program that uses artificial intelligence to map a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The Placement Assessment is up to 30 questions and generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete. After the Placement Assessment, an individualized Prep and Learning Module is available for students to refresh their knowledge on forgotten topics. Students then have the opportunity to reassess and improve their placement through up to 3 additional Placement Assessments.

For more information and access to the Placement Assessment, please visit https://math.sciences.ncsu.edu/mathplacement/

North Carolina State University encourages each student to spend time in the Prep and Learning Module, even if the desired score is achieved, because time spent in ALEKS will ultimately lead to better preparation and improved grades.

To ensure proper course placement, you should plan to complete this assessment prior to registering for your first semester classes.

  • For students whose first semester will be Summer 2020 or Fall 2020:
    • Complete your Placement Assessments before May 21, 2020, allowing yourself enough time to retake it as necessary. You will be able to access the Placement Assessment and Prep and Learning modules after this date, but taking it later than this may delay your ability to register for a math course.
  • For students whose first semester will be Spring 2021:
    • Complete your Placement Assessments before September 30, 2020 or as soon as possible after being admitted. The placement test will be open after this date, but taking it later than this may delay your ability to register for a math course.

After taking the Placement Assessment and initially enrolling in a math course, you may earn placement in a higher level math course through AP calculus exam scores or transfer credit. However, even if you anticipate this situation occurring, you should still plan on taking the math placement test to avoid delays in enrolling in a math course. Once your AP credit or transfer credit posts to your account, you will be able to adjust your schedule accordingly.

For more information and access to the Placement Assessment, please see https://math.sciences.ncsu.edu/mathplacement/

Chemistry Placement Exam (Must complete before registering for CH101 or CH103)

The chemistry placement exam (CPE) is a tool and process used to help place students into a general chemistry course appropriate for their background. Students with sufficient chemistry background as indicated by a ‘passing’ mark on the CPE satisfy the required prerequisite to enroll in CH 101, Chemistry: A Molecular Science or CH103: General Chemistry I for Students in Chemical Sciences. Those students for whom remedial work is indicated have the following options to satisfy the prerequisites for enrolling in CH 101 or CH 103: (1) taking and passing with a C- or better, CH111, Preparatory Chemistry or (2) electing to complete satisfactorily a series of on-line ‘modules’ and subsequent evaluative examination.

The CPE is composed of 4 survey questions and 36 questions on chemistry and math topics. The CPE is deployed online via MOODLE, a course management system. Students must have their NCSU-issued unity ID and password to log into the Moodle site. Students will have 60 minutes upon accessing the exam to complete the questions. Only a single login is permitted; each question allows for one submission. Students will need a calculator capable of exponential and logarithmic computations.

  • For students whose first semester will be Summer 2020 or Fall 2020:
    • The CPE will be available from February 24, 2020 to August 25, 2020. To reserve a seat in CH101, incoming freshman should take the exam by May 21, 2020.
  • For students whose first semester will be Spring 2021:
    • The CPE will be available from February 24, 2020 – August 25, 2020 and September 28, 2020 – January 18, 2021. Students who need to take CH101 should take the placement exam two business days before attempting to register for the class.
    • Spring Connect students: Complete the exam by August 25, 2020 or as soon as possible after enrolling to ensure timely registration for a chemistry course.
    • Students admitted in late November:  Complete the exam as soon as possible after enrolling to be able to register for a chemistry course.

Click here to determine if you need to take the Chemistry Placement Exam for your academic program. 

Please note the following:

  • The CPE is mandatory for all students planning or required to take CH 101 or CH103; one cannot enroll in CH 101 or CH103 without satisfactory completion of the CPE. (To determine if you need to take the CPE, find the link to your acadmic program below)
  • Prepare for the CPE – you have only one attempt at the examination: chemistry and math topics covered by the CPE and other suggestions may be found at our CPE support website located at: go.ncsu.edu/chemplacement
  • The earlier one sits the CPE, the earlier one can register for the appropriate course.  Delaying the CPE may result in being enrolled in a course section that is not convenient for your schedule or finding sections unavailable.

Specific instructions for accessing the Chemistry Placement Exam along with score interpretation guidelines; options subsequent to taking the CPE; and other information (including contact info) may be found at: go.ncsu.edu/chemplacement

Foreign Language Placement (Must complete before registering for a foreign language course)

All students at NC State must demonstrate competency at the Elementary II level in a foreign language (FL* 102) as a requirement for graduation. Students who do not meet the proficiency requirement as determined by a review of the student’s high school record by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions – two years of high school study of the same language with a grade of ‘C’ or better in each of the two years – must take a placement test.  Students enrolling in programs in which the Intermediate I level (FL* 201) is required (CHASS, Exploratory Studies and PCOM), or students in other programs who wish to take a foreign language, must also take a placement test.

If students are beginning a language they have never studied before, they do not need to take the placement test and should enroll in FL* 101.

All foreign language placement testing is currently being conducted online. Computerized placement tests in Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and Latin are available via an online test but are for course placement only. See full details and access the online test on the Foreign Language Placement webpage.
For all other languages, students should go Coordinator webpage and contact the appropriate language coordinator to schedule a virtual placement test.

PLACEMENT EXAM TIMES:

  • For students whose first semester will be Summer 2020 or Fall 2020:
    • You will be able to take the exam online according to the instructions given above. Complete the test prior to May 21, 2020. An advising representative from your college or program can assist you during Orientation in determining if you need to take the exam.”
  • For students whose first semester will be Spring 2021 (Spring Connect, admitted in March 2020):
    • You must bring a valid driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID to take the test.
    • The first recommended time to take the exam is during Spring Connect Advising Day in October (details coming soon)
    • If you are not attending Advising Day, but are local or already scheduling a visit to campus before January, you can stop by the foreign language computer lab’s open hours after Advising Day and take the exam.
    • If you are unable to come to campus before January, the exam will be offered during New Student Orientation on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
    • Talk to an academic advisor about whether or not you need to take the exam and when they suggest you take it.
  • For students whose first semester will be Spring 2021 (admitted in November 2020):
    • You must bring your Wolfpack One Card student ID or a valid driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID to take the test.
    • The exam will be offered during New Student Orientation on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
    • Alternatively, you can stop by the foreign language computer lab’s open hours and take the exam after you have confirmed your enrollment or after classes begin.
    • Talk to an academic advisor about whether or not you need to take the exam and when they suggest you take it.

Students enrolling in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Exploratory Studies, or the Poole College of Management are encouraged to take the SAT II in a Foreign Language (along with their Math SAT II) so that they will know their foreign language placement before attending Orientation or taking the exam. Students should make arrangements with their high school guidance counselor to take the Math and Foreign Language SAT II tests.

Students enrolling in Humanities and Social Sciences, Exploratory Studies, or Management who have not taken the SAT II or the AP test in a Foreign Language will be directed to take a placement test. Students in all other colleges who did not meet the university FL* 102 proficiency requirement (as explained below), or who wish to take a foreign language, also need to take the placement test.

For further details regarding the foreign language requirement and placement testing, visit the Foreign Language Placement website. If you have questions, contact the Associate Department Head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Dr. Scott Despain at despain@ncsu.edu.

First-year Writing Placement (Review placement information before course registration)

There is no required placement test for first-year writing courses.

To fulfill the General Education Program’s requirement for first-year writing, most NC State students will take one course, ENG 101: Academic Writing and Research (4 hours), during their first year at the university.

Only credit for ENG 101 fulfills the first-year writing requirement, but students seeking additional support for their writing may elect to complete a two-course writing sequence: ENG 100: Reading and Writing Rhetorically (4 hours) and then ENG 101: Academic Writing and Research (4 hours).

Regardless, all students should visit the first-year writing placement chart to determine if they are exempt from the first-year writing requirement (ENG 101) based on a standardized test score submitted to NC State as part of their application process.

Students who are not exempt from ENG 101 based on a standardized test score should carefully review the typical placement scenarios located directly under the placement chart. These scenarios will help students determine if they should begin their instruction in ENG 100, enroll directly in ENG 101, or enroll in ENG 202 (for students with at least 3 hours of approved transfer credit in English composition).

Although most students’ questions can be addressed by their assigned academic advisors during their orientations, issues or concerns related to placement in and/or credit for first-year writing courses at NC State may be directed to Roy Stamper, Associate Director of the First-Year Writing Program, at roy_stamper@ncsu.edu.


* Students that have a disability and need testing accommodations for placement tests should first register with the Disability Resource Office.  Once registered, students should email the placement exam contact person and copy the DRO service provider so a verification email can be sent.

* Information on NC State’s Advanced Placement policy for AP exams can be found at https://admissions.ncsu.edu/apply/credit-opportunities/advanced-placement-ap/ (Link opens in another window)

* Information on NC State’s International Baccalaureate policy can be found at https://admissions.ncsu.edu/apply/credit-opportunities/international-baccalaureate-ib/ (Link opens in another window).