Language Placement

This information is useful for incoming first-year students during summer orientation as well as for all students and their advisors throughout the academic year in determining their course of language study. Registering for the right level course is crucial for your success in studying a foreign language.

Despite the availability of quantitative exams and general guidelines, proper language placement is not an exact science. In some cases, placement might be determined by attending the first days of classes and consulting with your language instructor or the language coordinator immediately. If you believe you fall into this category (the class seems too difficult or too basic for you), please contact the appropriate language coordinator before the end of the first week of the drop/add period. It is important to follow the professional advice of your instructors or the coordinators in this matter.

Given the expense involved, it is also not advisable to purchase language textbooks from non-refundable sources in advance of the new semester unless you are absolutely certain of which course you will be taking.

Our language curriculum is structurally "progressive": that is to say, one course builds upon the previous one in helping you to develop mastery of the various, necessary skills (reading, listening, writing, speaking) in order to reach true mastery of the language. Experience has shown that, frequently enough, if you skip one of the courses in this carefully constructed sequence, it is likely that you will not do well in the course or, just as importantly, will not reach the level of competence necessary to succeed in higher-level courses in literature and culture.

For specific details about the French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish placement tests, refer to the individual language sections below.

Placement Tests

French Placement Test

The online placement test is designed to help you determine the most appropriate course level for your ongoing studies in French. The test usually takes from 5 to 30 minutes to complete (depending on your background), consists of multiple choice questions, and covers grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Once you have completed the test, you will be able to view your score and your suggested placement, namely:

  • scores below 255: take FREN 1009, Elementary French I
  • scores 255 - 295: take​ FREN 1010, Elementary French II (only offered in the spring)
  • scores 296 - 394: take ​FREN 1109, Intermediate French I
  • scores 395-449: take FREN 1110, Intermediate French II (offered only in the spring). However, you may not want to wait until the second semester to take your first French course in order not to lose what you have already learned; in that case, depending on how confident you feel of your French skills, in the fall semester, you can either take Intermediate I or FREN 2209, Conversation, Composition and Reading I (CCR).
  • scores 450-550: FREN 2209, French Conversation, Composition and Reading I (CCR) (offered only in the fall).
  • scores above 550: you may be ready for French courses at the 3000 level, especially if you had more than 4 years of a solid high school program in French and have had some experience studying abroad in France or a Francophone country.

For further help in determining your placement, see the list of French language advisors below. Moreover, on the first day of classes please consult with the instructor of the course you have enrolled in to ensure your proper placement.

More information about the placement test can be found below, “Taking the French Placement Test”.

Guidelines for French Placement

If you scored a four or five on the French Language AP exam or over 600 on the SAT Subject Test* in French, consult with the RLL Dept. representative at the Language Resource table at First-Year Orientation or else email the French section head, Prof. Steven Bold (bold@bc.edu).

If you scored a three on the French Language AP exam or in the 550-600 range on the SAT Subject Test* in French, take FREN2209, French Conversation, Composition, and Reading I.

If you scored less than three on the French Language AP exam or less than 550 on the SAT Subject Test* in French or if you have not taken either exam, take the online test. Information about the placement test can be found below Taking the French Placement Test. You must take this test prior to your campus Orientation session. Register for the course suggested upon finishing the online test. Please write down your score if you would like to discuss your placement with an advisor at Orientation.

If you have never studied French, take FREN 1009, Elementary French I.

*Note that either form of the SAT Subject Test is acceptable: with or without the listening component.

Instructors and students should still confer on the first day of class to confirm accurate placement.

For further assistance with placement in:

  • Elementary and Intermediate French, please e-mail Coordinator Prof. Andrea Javel;
  • French CCR, please e-mail Prof. Johann Sadock, Coordinator of CCR (during the academic year only; during the summer, contact Prof. Franco Mormando)
  • all French courses above CCR, please email Prof. Steven Bold, French section head.


Taking the French Placement Test

The test is offered online and can be taken at any time. The link will take you to a BC site where you will need to first create an account by simply supplying your name, email address, and choosing a password. (Note that supplying a BC student ID is not mandatory to create the account.)

If you have questions about the test, please email the French Placement Test Coordinator, Prof. Andrea Javel.

Italian Placement Test

Guidelines for Italian Placement

There is no on-line placement test in Italian. Please contact Coordinator, Brian O'Connor at brian.oconnor@bc.edu for any questions that are not addressed in the following guidelines.

If you have never studied Italian or if you have studied it in high school for one year or less, take ITAL 1003, Elementary Italian I.

If you have studied Italian for two to three years in high school, take ITAL 1004, Elementary Italian II (spring semester).

If you have studied Italian for three to four years in high school or for one year at the college level, take ITAL 1113, Intermediate Italian I.

If you scored a three on the Italian Language AP exam or in the 550-600 range on the SAT Subject Test* in Italian, or have studied Italian in high school for more than four years or for two years at the college level, take ITAL 2213, Italian Conversation, Composition, and Reading I.

If you scored a four or five on the Italian Language AP exam or over 600 on the SAT Subject Test* in Italian, consult with Professor Brian O’Connor at brian.oconnor@bc.edu.

Instructors and students should still confer on the first day of class to confirm accurate placement.

*Note that either form of the SAT Subject Test is acceptable: with or without the listening component.

Spanish Placement Test

For Incoming Freshmen Only

Spanish Placement Test

If you have taken Spanish in high school, it is highly recommended that you continue taking Spanish at Boston College. If you need to fulfill the MCAS foreign language proficiency requirement (Intermediate II), you should take the Spanish Placement Test between May 4th, 2022 and June 2nd, 2022 (five Wednesdays, five Thursdays, and 4 Saturdays) in order to enroll in the appropriate Spanish course beginning in your first semester. This test will determine what course in the sequence you should start from as you move towards completing Intermediate Spanish II. Language courses will be more difficult if you delay completing the requirement. The Spanish Placement Test may be taken only once.

Instructions for the online Spanish Placement Test are as follows:

  • From May 4th through June 2nd take the test with live technical support on Wednesday or Thursday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm EDT. Otherwise, you may take the test on Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm EDT, but in this case, there will only be next-business-day (i.e., Monday) emailed technical support. Contact information for live or emailed support will be provided in Canvas. You are encouraged to take the test with live support on Wednesday or Thursday to get immediate technical help if needed. If you decide to take the test on Saturday and experience difficulties, you need to exit the test and wait to hear from the test administrator by email on Monday. The test is computer-based, delivered online. It can be taken only once.

  • Have your Boston College username and password information with you before you start the test. You will find the Spanish Placement Test as a course tile in the Canvas Learning Management System by logging in to your Canvas Course at bc.edu/lms with your Agora username and password information. You cannot take the test without these login credentials. NOTE: The last start time for this 50-minute test is 5:00 pm EDT.

  • You MUST use a computer (desktop or laptop) with a webcam and the following required operating systems: Windows - 11 and 10, Mac - macOS 10.12 – 12.0+.

  • DO NOT use a Chromebook, iPad or other mobile device to access the Spanish Placement Test.

  • Prior to taking the Spanish Placement Test, you will need to download and install to your computer Boston College’s LockDown Browser tool, which is located within the Spanish Placement Test course in Canvas. When you enter the course, make sure to carefully read the entire homepage. For technical assistance with the LockDown Browser installation and/or issues related to your Agora username and password, contact Boston College's Technology Help Center at (617) 552-4357 or https://www.bc.edu/techchat. Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 6:00 pm EDT and Saturday 9:00 am- 12:00 pm EDT. Keep in mind that the test will be accessible only from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm EDT on the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of each week from May 4th through June 2nd, 2022.

  • You will be required to take the mandatory Practice Exercise found within the Spanish Placement Test course in Canvas prior to installing the LockDown Browser in your computer and then taking the 50-minute Spanish Placement Test itself with LockDown Browser in place.

Attention: You have not completed the Spanish Placement Test unless you have submitted Parts I, II and III. You will not be able to register for a Spanish course unless you have completed the entire Spanish Placement Test.

Special Testing Accommodations

If special testing accommodations are necessary, DO NOT take the Placement Test online during the May 4th through June 2nd testing period. Make sure to submit your request for accommodations as early as possible by registering with either the Disability Services Office or the Connors Family Learning Center, so that they will be able to issue you a letter of accommodation. You must receive the accommodations approval letter before taking the test. You will need to contact the test administrator (falconis@bc.edu) and present this letter in order to be able to take the test at the ‘special accommodations’ online testing session to be scheduled on the Wednesday of the first week of the Fall semester. The test can be taken only once.

Who needs to take the Spanish Placement Test

  • If you have never studied Spanish, you do not need to take the Spanish Placement Test. Register for SPAN1015 Elementary Spanish I. ONLY students who have never studied Spanish or who place into the course may enroll in Elementary Spanish I.
  • If you have studied Spanish but have not taken the Spanish Language AP Exam, take the Placement Test.
  • If you have taken the AP Exam and have not yet received the score, take the Spanish Placement Test and register for the course recommended when you complete the test. When you receive the AP score, you should do the necessary placement adjustment according to the information provided in the table below.
  • If you scored a 3 or above on the Spanish Language AP Exam, or 6/7 on the IB Language Exam (higher level), you have fulfilled the language requirement; however, you are encouraged to continue in the Spanish program at the appropriate higher level.
  • Transfer students: If you have taken Elementary or Intermediate Spanish at a 4-year institution of higher education, sign up for the next course in sequence without taking the placement test. However, if you did not take Spanish at a 4-year institution of higher education, but did take Spanish in high school, you should take the Spanish Placement Test. Transfer students coming from 2-year institutions should take the placement test.
  • Students in the Connell School of Nursing and the Lynch School of Education and Human Development do not have a language requirement, but we encourage you to continue studying Spanish. You are welcome to take the Spanish Placement Test if appropriate or join the curriculum at a higher level if so qualified.
  • Starting with the Class of 2022, students in the Carroll School of Management do not have a language requirement, but we encourage you to pursue the study of Spanish. You are welcome to take the Spanish Placement Test if appropriate or join the curriculum at a higher level if qualified to do so.

 

Guidelines for Spanish Placement

IB Language Exam in Spanish AP Exam Scores in Spanish Language Requirement
6/7 higher level 3 or above Language requirement fulfilled. Go to chart below
IB Language Exam in Spanish AP Exam Scores in Spanish Course / Test to be taken / Contact
Never studied Spanish Never studied Spanish Take SPAN1015 Elementary Spanish I
Did not take Did not take Take the Spanish Placement Test
  3 Take the Placement Test if you wish to continue further studies in Spanish
6/7 higher level 4 SPAN2215 Conversation, Composition and Reading I
  5 SPAN3392 Advanced Spanish
Native or heritage speaker Native or heritage speaker  Consult the Department
(rll@bc.edu)


Spanish Placement Test FAQ and Sign-Up Forms

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Portuguese Placement Test

NOTE: There is no placement test in Portuguese; students should contact the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at rll@bc.edu for more information.