Exam Results and Advising

The results of placement exams assist students in making informed decisions on which classes are the most appropriate to enroll in as they begin their study.   

All incoming students are required to take the Math and Writing placement exams.  Optional exams in Life Sciences, Music Theory, and many Languages are also available. 

Math, Writing, and Life Sciences (Biology and Chemistry) exams are given each summer.  The Music Theory exam is given once a year at the start of the fall term.  Most language exams are given each summer and winter.   

An exam schedule will be available on the Placement-Info webpage prior to the start of the summer and winter exam periods.   

Accessing Exam Results 

Once you have finished the exams and the system has processed the results, the Test and Score Report will be generated in the student information system (my.harvard.edu) for the Harvard Placement Exams.  The report will include recommendations for courses in writing, math and any of the following optional exams; biology, chemistry, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.   

For language exams other than French, German, Italian or Spanish the course recommendations will be emailed directly to your college email account by the department. 

GSAS and non-FAS students should contact the FAS Registrar's office at placementexams@fas.harvard.edu with the subject line Graduate student DPT results no earlier than one day following completion of the exam to receive the result of their language placement exam.   

Harvard fact: At the beginning of every semester students will have time to review course websites, look through course syllabi for an outline of assignments and materials to be covered, attend course information sessions, and communicate with instructors.  

The Test and Score Report 

Reports can be found by visiting the “Reports and Documents” section in my.harvard.edu

The report includes: 

  1. A list of recommended courses 

  2. Scores for the Harvard placement exams you took* 

  3. Scores for exams you took before entering Harvard (AP, IB, SAT II) 

* In the case of languages Harvard College Placement exams refer only to French, Italian, German, and Spanish.  All other language exams are administered by the language departments.  Your score and course recommendation will be communicated directly to you by the department, and you will not see that information in the Test and Score Report.  

Advising Contacts 

Now that you have a course recommendation based on the result of a placement exam you may have questions about options or alternatives.  Your questions are best answered by the academic department.  For a listing of academic department emails, visit the Contact Us page.

Information on the Harvard College language requirement and fulfilling the requirement through the placement exam can be found here. 

Advising for Specific Placement Exams

Biology and Chemistry

When considering your Life Sciences and Physical Sciences course recommendations you may find it helpful to consult the Life Sciences Advising Guide and the Engineering Guidebook. If you would like specific information about a particular field, you may wish to consult with an advisor in that area.

If your recommendation includes a list of various courses and you wonder how to choose

You might want to consider the following to help guide your decision:

The placement report recommends a Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences course. How do I find out what these are and which to take?

Where to look:

Biology, Life Sciences--Monique Brewster mbrewst@fas.harvard.edu

Biology, Life Sciences--Dominic Mao dominicmao@fas.harvard.edu

Chemistry, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences--Gregg Tucci tucci@fas.harvard.edu

I think I might be interested in pursuing a concentration or secondary field in the Life Sciences or Physical Sciences?

Where to look:

  • Visit the Advising Programs Office website and take a look at the Exploring Concentrations area. The gateway courses listed in each concentration will be helpful to consult.
  • Visit my.harvard.edu and use the "Search My Requirements" and “What if” tools to gather information about which courses would be included in the concentrations you think you might be interested in.

Harvard fact:

At many institutions, a student’s area of focus is called a major. At Harvard this area of focus is called a concentration.  In addition, students at Harvard may also chose to pursue a minor field of study, or secondary field.  For details about concentrations or secondary fields students should consult Fields of Concentration in the Handbook for Students.

Languages

For information on the foreign language requirement and placement exams visit our language placement exam page

Some languages will email students directly with their recommendations, while others will include recommendations on the placement exam report in the student information system (my.harvard.edu).  To help you understand and use these recommendations you can begin by consulting the resources posted on the Advising Programs Office website, reach out to individual language programs with specific questions, or look out for advising events held by language programs in August.  We will update that information here when available.  

Included in the Placement Exam Report— French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Recommendations Sent by Email—All other languages will send course recommendations directly to your email.

Language Advising Events— We will update this space with any advising events planned for students interested in studying a language. Typically these occur late August and students are able to meet with language program instructors, ask questions about placement exams results, and discuss which language courses to take.

How do I find information about the language courses that have been recommended?

Where to look:

  • Search the course catalog directly by visiting my.harvard.edu
  • Visit language program websites directly. You will find materials offering an overview of courses or suggestions about where to look.
  • Reach out to an advisor in one of these languages to ask question and seek advice. For a list of contacts for these programs, navigate to the “Contact & Support” page.

Can I take a lower level language course than was recommended on the placement exam report?

Where to look:

For this kind of question, you will want to reach out directly to an adviser in the language you are interested in exploring. For a list of contacts for each language program, navigate to the “Contact & Support” page.

I think I might want to pursue a concentration, secondary field, or citation in a particular language. What courses should I take?

Where to look:

  • Visit the Advising Programs Office website and consult the decision tree specific to the languages.
  • Visit the Advising Programs Office website and take a look at the Exploring Concentrations area. Gateway courses listed in each concentration can help you think about where to start.
  • Visit my.harvard.edu and use the “Search my Requirements” and “What if” tools to gather information about which courses would be included in the concentrations you think you might be interested in.
  • Reach out to an advisor in one of these languages to ask question and seek advice. For a list of contacts for each language program, navigate to the “Contact & Support” page

Harvard fact:

At many institutions, a student’s area of focus is called a major. At Harvard this area of focus is called a concentration.  In addition, students at Harvard may also chose to pursue a minor field of study, or secondary field.  Students will also have the option of completing a language citation, which consists of four language courses beyond the first-year level. For details about concentrations, secondary fields, or language citation, students should consult Fields of Concentration in the Handbook for Students.

Math

Course Recommendations

The placement exam report will include course level recommendations.  At the end of the report, you will also find the raw scores for each part of the exam you completed.  The detailed scores can be helpful to use when consulting a Math advisor during the course selection period if you question your placement advice.  Math Advisors will be available August 17th. 

You will see one of the following recommendations based on the results of the exam: 

1.     Math Ma/Qa (determined by the results of Part I of the exam) 

2.     Math 1a (determined by the results of Part I and Part II) 

3.     Math 1b (determined by the results of all three parts of the exam) 

4.     A list of all courses beyond single variable calculus 

Advising Events

The department will hold TWO virtual live events. These will also be videotaped and available on their website following the events. ​

Making sense of your Math placement score info and question/answer session.​

Date:  Wednesday August 10 from 3pm-4:30pm (EDT)​

Visit the Math Department's webpage for First Year Students for the Zoom invitation information.  
 

'Shall I take Math 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 55 or AM 22?' info and question/answer session.​

Date:  Thursday, August 11 from 5pm-6:30pm (EDT)​

Visit the Math Department's webpage for First Year Students for the Zoom invitation information.  

One on One Advisor Conversations

Starting on August 17 advisors will be available through the Math Placement Advisor page.  ​

Information for First Year Students can be found on the department's page for First Year Students. 

Interested in a Math Concentration or Secondary Field?

I am interested in a concentration or secondary field that has a math course requirement.  What factors should I consider when choosing such a course? 

Where to look: 

Crucial:  Talk to the departmental advisors in your area of interest.  Their contact information can be found at the Exploring Concentrations area.  

Look at the Advising Programs Office website and consult the decision tree specific to mathematics. 

Look at the Exploring Concentrations area at the Advising Programs Office website.  Some of the gateway courses in each concentration are listed there. 

Look at my.harvard.edu and use the “Search my Requirements” and “What if” tools to find out which math courses are recommended and/or required for the concentrations that you are interested in. 

Harvard fact: 

A student’s area of focus at Harvard is called a concentration (it is called a ‘major’ at most other universities).  Students at Harvard can also pursue a ‘minor ‘field of study which is called a secondary field.  For details about concentrations and secondary fields, consult the Fields of Concentration section in the Handbook for Students

The placement report recommends that I choose from a range of multivariable calculus courses or theory-based math courses.  How do I find out what these are and which to take? 

Where to look: 

Look at this Math Department website for information about these courses and guidance about what to consider when making a choice.   

Attend the Zoom information session about these courses to be held in August.  See this Math Department website for the Zoom coordinates. 

Consult the list of introductory courses

Make an appointment to talk with a Math Advisor. Advisors will be available beginning August 17.

What if I want to take a mathematics course that is not included in the list of recommended courses on my placement report in my.harvard.edu? 

If you are thinking to take a course that is not included in the list of recommended courses for first year students, consult with an advisor in the Math Department directly.  Advisors will be available in mid-August. 

Music

Results of the music theory exam will be emailed directly to students. The results of this exam will help determine which music theory you are best suited to start with. After taking this exam you will receive an email directly from the Music Department detailing your course recommendation.

How do I find information about the music courses that have been recommended?

Where to look:

I think I might be interested in pursuing a concentration or secondary field in music. Which of the recommended courses should I take?

Where to look:

  • Visit the Advising Programs Office website and take a look at the Exploring Concentrations area. The gateway courses listed in each concentration will be helpful to consult.
  • Visit my.harvard.edu and use the “Search my Requirements” and “What if” tools to gather information about which courses would be included in the concentrations you think you might be interested in.
  • Reach out to the department at musicdept@fas.harvard.edu with any particular questions about your recommendation

Harvard fact:

At many institutions, a student’s area of focus is called a major. At Harvard this area of focus is called a concentration.  In addition, students at Harvard may also choose to pursue a minor field of study, or secondary field.  For details about concentrations or secondary fields students should consult Fields of Concentration in the Handbook for Students.

Writing

The results of this exam will help determine which Expos course you are best suited to start with. The Placement Exam Report will include a course level recommendation for either Expos 20 or Expos Studio 10. 

Harvard Fact: 

Courses taught by the Harvard College Writing Program are called “Expos” courses (Expos 20, Expos Studio 10, and Expos Studio 20). All first-year students will meet the expository writing requirement by taking either an Expos 20-level course, or by taking the year-long course Humanities 10a/b. 

How do I find information about the Expos course that has been recommended? 

Where to look: 

The Writing Program website will have the most complete description of both Expos 20 and Expos Studio 10, how they differ, and how to think about which one might be right for you. All students who are recommended for Expos Studio 10 will meet with a Writing Program faculty member in July or August to discuss the recommendation. 

Contact the Writing Program at expos@fas.harvard.edu with any general questions about Expos courses. 

Can I take a different Expos course than the one recommended on the Placement Exam Report? 

Where to look: 

The Expository Writing course included on the placement report is a recommendation; ultimately the choice of which course to begin with is yours to make, informed by advising from the Writing Program. 

Advising for all students recommended for Expos Studio 10 will be held in July and August, after students have received Expos placement recommendations. If you are interested in the course but have not been recommended for it, please sign up to talk with an Expos Studio 10 adviser by emailing expos@fas.harvard.edu