Language Placement Exam

Harvard College, which offers language instruction in over 45 languages, offers placement exams with the primary purpose of aiding students in determining which course(s) are most appropriate for their studies. Exams may be administered in any language that is offered at Harvard. Some exams are scheduled to be taken during the summer and winter exam periods while others are scheduled individually.

Online language exams in French, Italian, and Spanish are offered in the summer and January. German is also offered as a summer online placement exam. Upper-level students and graduate students need to register to take these exams. Incoming students do not need to register.  A range of other exams are offered in languages from classical languages (Ancient Greek and Latin) and East Asian languages (Mandarin, Korean, Japanese) to Slavic (Ukrainian and Czech) and Near Eastern languages (Arabic and modern Hebrew). Students should review the list at the bottom of this page for the complete list of language exams.  

Language Requirement and Language Verification Exams

Students may also wish to take a language placement exam in order to satisfy the Harvard College language requirement. The requirement requires eight course credits (typically two semester long four credit courses) in the same language completed before the Junior year.  Those who qualify via the online exams will be invited to verify their performance by taking the proctored Language Verification Exam (LVE). Those students who pass the LVE will have fulfilled their language requirment. Students are still welcome to study the language and will have their course recommendations as a starting place.  It is very important to know that students invited to verify their performance will not have another chance to take the LVE.  It can not be put off until later in the semester or beyond.  

Students who take exams administered by a language department (exams in languages other than French, German, Italian, or Spanish) will be notified of their placement recommendation and whether they have fulfilled the language requirement following the exam. 

Eligibility

Students are allowed to take the exam only once for the purpose of fulfilling the language requirement. Students who took a placement exam before June 2019 and qualified to retake the exam will still be allowed to do so. Students may only take a language exam a single time during any given administration period and only once per academic year (e.g. a student who takes an exam in summer may not take the same exam in winter). Additionally, students may not take a placement exam in a language they have studied while enrolled in Harvard College (e.g. a student who has taken a term of Spanish may not take the language exam in Spanish).

Technical Note

Please take the online language placement exams on a computer with a high-speed internet connection as there are multiple sound files that must be downloaded for the listening sections. If for some reason this is not possible for you, please email placement-help@fas.harvard.edu for assistance. The exams can be accessed at https://onlineplacement.fas.harvard.edu.

Language Exam Information and Contacts

African Languages

African Languages

The African Languages Department offers several languages such as: Afrikaans, Gullah, Haitian Creole, Shona, Somali, Sudanese Arabic, Swahili, Twi, Zulu and many more.  For up to date exam information including dates and contact information visit the department's placement exam page.   For general information consult the Department of African Languages website

For information not available on the website or if interested in a placement exam contact the African Language Program Manager Dr. Bojana Coulibaly, bojana_coulibaly@fas.harvard.edu.

American Sign Language

 

American Sign Language 

Students who wish to take the ASL placement exam should schedule a meeting with Andrew Bottoms at andrew_bottoms@fas.harvard.edu.  In advance of the meeting students should provide a short video of themselves signing a topic of their choice.  Videos must be submitted by August 15.  

If you have questions about the placement exam or about information not available on the website, please contact the Head of ASL courses, Kathryn Davidson at kathryndavidson@fas.harvard.edu or Linguistics Preceptor, Andrew Bottoms at andrew_bottoms@fas.harvard.edu.  
 
For general information, consult the Department of Linguistics website.  

 

Celtic Languages

For general information consult the Department of Celtic Languages website

Contact Mary Violette, Department Administrator violette@fas.harvard.edu for information about placement exams and any information not found on the website.

Chinese

 

East Asian Languages 

The East Asian Languages Department offers language exams in Chinese, Classical/Literary Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  All information regarding registration and exam dates can be found on the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations website.  Information will be updated as it becomes available.  If you have questions, contact Rebecca Mahoney at eal@fas.harvard.edu.

Chinese Placement Exam

Test Date:

Friday, August 19

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm ET Written Test (composition; grammar & reading)

3:30 pm - 5:30 pm ET Oral Test (you will be assigned a 5-minute test slot between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm. A Zoom link with your assigned slot will be sent to you through email)

  

 

Chinese (Literary/Classical)

Online placement exams in literary/classical Chinese are available June 21-August 24, 2022.

For information about literary/classical Chinese at Harvard and the placement exams for first- and second-year courses, please visit the Literary and Classical Chinese Language Program website.

To make arrangements for a placement exam in literary/classical Chinese, e-mail David Sena, Preceptor in Literary Chinese (dsena@fas.harvard.edu). Please provide your name and year of study, and describe your prior study of literary or classical Chinese. Indicate whether you intend to take the first- or the second-year exam (see program website for details about this). Please also specify what time zone you will be located in when you take the exam.

 

 

The Classics

The Classics 

Placement exams for Latin and ancient Greek will be available on Tuesday, August 9, from 10am until 10pm eastern.   

Please visit the Department of Classics website for general information and how to access the exam.  

The modern Greek placement exam will be available by request.  Please contact Dr. Calliope Dourou at dourou@fas.harvard.edu to request an exam.   

For questions about courses or placement exams contact the advisor listed below. 

Advising contacts:  

Greek (Ancient): Dr. Ivy Livingston livings@g.harvard.edu  

Greek (Modern): Dr. Calliope Dourou dourou@fas.harvard.edu  

Latin: Dr. Ivy Livingston livings@g.harvard.edu 

 

French

The French exam is one of four languages that uses the Harvard Placement Exam platform and is available June 21-August 24.   To access the exam visit https://onlineplacement.fas.harvard.edu.

Upperclass students and graduate students must register for this exam by first going to the Online Placement Exams Registration application.  Please note that it may take up to two business days to access the exam once you've registered and the exam is open.

It is strongly recommended you visit the Language Placement Exam page for information on how to get your results, eligibility, and using the exam to fulfill the language requirement.

If you have questions about courses, please be in touch with one of the language advisors listed on the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures website.

For technical issues, contact: ithelp@harvard.edu | (617) 495-9000

If your computer freezes or crashes while taking the exam, you can be reassured that the exams are designed to auto-save as you progress through the questions. It is likely that you will be able to reopen the exam. If you are unable to access the exams, please refer to Online Placement Exams Authorization information. 

 

German

The German exam is one of four languages that uses the Harvard Placement Exam platform and is available June 21-August 24. To access the exam visit https://onlineplacement.fas.harvard.edu.

Upperclass students and graduate students must register for this exam by first going to the Online Placement Exams Registration application.  Please note that it may take up to two business days to access the exam once you've registered and the exam is open.

It is strongly recommended you visit the Language Placement Exam page for information on how to get your results, eligibility, and using the exam to fulfill the language requirement.

If you have questions, please be in touch with Dr. Lisa Parkes at lparkes@fas.harvard.edu.  For general information, consult the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures website.  

For technical issues, contact: ithelp@harvard.edu | (617) 495-9000

If your computer freezes or crashes while taking the exam, you can be reassured that the exams are designed to auto-save as you progress through the questions. It is likely that you will be able to reopen the exam. If you are unable to access the exams, please refer to Online Placement Exams Authorization information. 

 

 

Italian

The Italian exam is one of four languages that uses the Harvard Placement Exam platform and is available June 21-August 24.  To access the exam visit https://onlineplacement.fas.harvard.edu.

Upperclass students and graduate students must register for this exam by first going to the Online Placement Exams Registration application.  Please note that it may take up to two business days to access the exam once you've registered and the exam is open.

It is strongly recommended you visit the Language Placement Exam page for information on how to get your results, eligibility, and using the exam to fulfill the language requirement.

If you have questions about courses, please be in touch with Chiara Trebaiocchi at ctrebaiocchi@fas.harvard.edu

For general information, consult the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures Language Programs website. 

For technical issues, contact: ithelp@harvard.edu | (617) 495-9000

If your computer freezes or crashes while taking the exam, you can be reassured that the exams are designed to auto-save as you progress through the questions. It is likely that you will be able to reopen the exam. If you are unable to access the exams, please refer to Online Placement Exams Authorization information. 

 

 

 

Japanese

East Asian Languages 

The East Asian Languages Department offers language exams in Chinese, Classical/Literary Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  All information regarding registration and exam dates can be found on the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations website.  Information will be updated as it becomes available.  If you have questions, contact Rebecca Mahoney at eal@fas.harvard.edu.

 

Korean

East Asian Languages 

The East Asian Languages Department offers language exams in Chinese, Classical/Literary Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  All information regarding registration and exam dates can be found on the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations website.  Information will be updated as it becomes available.  If you have questions, contact Rebecca Mahoney at eal@fas.harvard.edu.

 

Near East Languages

Near East Languages and Civilizations (NELC)

Arabic, Turkish, and Persian 

These three placement exams will take place on August 15, 10:00am -12:00noon.  Visit the NELC website.  

Arabic: To register for the Arabic placement exam, you MUST fill out the Arabic Placement Exam Survey TWO DAYS prior to the exam.  After the completion of the survey, you will receive the Zoom link.

Persian: Here is the link to register for the Persian placement exam.

Turkish: Here is the link to register for the Turkish placement exam.

You must have:

• One of the following: Harvard ID, driver’s license, passport, or government ID

• A quiet, well-lit room

• A reliable internet connection

• A computer (with Zoom, microphone, front-facing camera)

General Instructions:

· Remain on the browser window you start your exam on. 

· Do not seek assistance when completing this exam.

· Any suspicious actions on the computer will lead to immediate termination of your exam.

*Please be on time for the exams. The online exams will only be open August 15, 2022, 10:00am – 12:00 noon, EST and once it is closed, you will not be able to access the exam.

Do not hesitate to contact the NELC Department at nelc@fas.harvard.edu if you have any questions regarding the NELC Language Placement exams.

For general information and for information about language exams not found on the NELC website contact nelc@fas.harvard.edu.  

Modern Hebrew

This language exam will take place on August 15, 12:00-3:00pm ET.

Email Irit Aharony (aharony@fas.harvard.edu) to sign up for the exam and receive the Zoom invitation.  

Log on to Zoom at the start of the exam period to receive the exam and instructions.  

For the exam you will need

Reliable high-speed internet

A Printer to complete a form

A scanner to return the completed form

The structure of the exam and the topics will be posted on the Center for Jewish Studies Website

Contact Irit Aharony with questions

NELC Advising contacts: 

Arabic (Classical & Modern): Nader Uthman naderuthman@fas.harvard.edu

Persian:  Nader Uthman naderuthman@fas.harvard.edu

Turkish (Ottoman & Modern): Himmet Taskomur  taskomur@fas.harvard.edu 

Hebrew (Modern): Irit Aharony aharony@fas.harvard.edu

Portuguese

Portuguese 

Placement exams will be available from July 20-August 20.  

Students interested in scheduling an exam or with questions about studying Portuguese must contact Dr. Cristiane Soares at cristianesoares@fas.harvard.edu

For general information, consult the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures Language Programs website. 

Scandinavian Languages

Scandinavian Languages

For placement exams in Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Finnish contact Agnes Broomé agnesbroome@fas.harvard.edu.

For general information consult the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures website.

 

Slavic Languages

 

Slavic Languages  

Placement exams will be available from June 21-August 24. Later dates will be available by request. 

Standard exams are offered in: Russian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Czech, Polish and Ukrainian. Students interested in scheduling an exam must contact Steven Clancy at sclancy@fas.harvard.edu. 

For general information consult the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures website

 

 

 

South Asian Languages

 

South Asian Languages

Standard exams are offered in; Hindi-Urdu, Indonesian, Napali, Punjabi, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, and Sanskrit. Placement exams in other South Asian languages may be offered contingent on finding a qualified examiner.  To schedule a placement exam or for advising questions contact Richard Delacy at rdelacy@fas.harvard.edu.

For general information consult the Department of South Asian Studies website

 

 

 

 

Spanish

The Spanish exam is one of four languages that uses the Harvard Placement Exam platform and is available June 21-August 24.   To access the exam visit https://onlineplacement.fas.harvard.edu.

Upperclass students and graduate students must register for this exam by first going to the Online Placement Exams Registration application.  Please note that it may take up to two business days to access the exam once you've registered and the exam is open.

It is strongly recommended you visit the Language Placement Exam page for information on how to get your results, eligibility, and using the exam to fulfill the language requirement.

If you have questions about courses, please be in touch with one of the language advisors listed on the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures website.

For technical issues, contact: ithelp@harvard.edu | (617) 495-9000

If your computer freezes or crashes while taking the exam, you can be reassured that the exams are designed to auto-save as you progress through the questions. It is likely that you will be able to reopen the exam. If you are unable to access the exams, please refer to Online Placement Exams Authorization information. 

 

Vietnamese

East Asian Languages 

The East Asian Languages Department offers language exams in Chinese, Classical/Literary Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  All information regarding registration and exam dates can be found on the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations website.  Information will be updated as it becomes available.  If you have questions, contact Rebecca Mahoney at eal@fas.harvard.edu.