New Students

Placement Exams at Reed

Why take a placement exam?

Placement exams help identify the courses appropriate for your experience level. If you think you have sufficient mastery of subject matter to consider skipping introductory courses in an area, you may want to take a placement exam. 

Completion of a placement exam at a certain level enables you to skip the introductory (or even second-year) course in some departments. Exams that identify placement at second- or third-year language levels can also be important in satisfying a language requirement.

When should I take placement exams?

Each academic department at Reed sets their own timeline and format for placement exams. Most offer placement exams online in the months leading up to class registration. For semester-specific placement exam timelines, click on the incoming student tab in the navigation menu. 

Generally, it is helpful to take your placement exams as soon as they are offered for the following reasons:

  1. You will want to make sure your scores are available for your first advising appointment
  2. Placement exam results last for your entire Reed career, so you are encouraged to take relevant placement exam(s) as soon as possible (while your memory of the material is fresh), even if you don't expect to take the course until later. 

Credit is not granted for placement exams or for the course you do not have to take. 

If you don’t take a placement exam, you can still take introductory-level courses in that subject. You can discuss this with your adviser during your first advising session. 

Placement exams are offered in the following subjects:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • French
  • German
  • Latin and Ancient Greek
  • Music Theory
  • Physics
  • Russian
  • Spanish

If you are a new incoming student and have questions about placement exams, please contact the Orientation Team at reedorientation@reed.edu. Returning students who would like to take placement exams mid-year should reach out to the respective department chairs.