New Students

Placement Exams

Online placement exams will be open June 10-16 and again from June 21 through the end of the summer. Students must complete the exams by June 16, 11:59 p.m. PT in order to have the results in place by registration on July 6. (You must sign up in advance for the computer science exam.) 

Placement exams help identify the courses appropriate for your experience level, and completion at a certain level of a placement exam enables you to skip the introductory (or even second-year language) course in some departments. Placement exams can also be important in satisfying a language requirement but only if it can be fulfilled by placement at second- or third-year language. 

If you're hoping to place out of first-year Arabic, Chinese, economics, French, German, Greek, Latin, music theory, physics, Russian, or Spanish, you'll need to take the relevant placement exam(s) before classes begin. If you are thinking of taking computer science classes and have any previous programming experience, we encourage you to take the computer science placement exam. Students who wish to place beyond introductory mathematics classes will discuss their placement with a faculty member in mathematics to determine appropriate placement. 

Placement exam results last for your entire Reed career, so you are encouraged to take relevant placement exam(s) as soon as possible (while 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.

 Jump to information about why and how to take exams.

ADA information

If you are in need of accommodations to access and take this exam, please complete the Disability Accommodation Request Form by June 1. If you have additional questions, please contact the Disability and Accessibility Resources office (DAR).

Online Placement Exams

The following placement exams will be available online.  

Arabic placement exam
Students interested in taking Arabic should contact Kambiz GhaneaBassiri for more information.
Contact: Kambiz GhaneaBassiri

Chinese placement exam
Contact: Alexei Ditter 

Computer science placement exam
Sign up for the exam here.
Contact: Adam Groce

Economics placement exam
Contact: Felipe Carrera  

French placement exam
Contact: Catherine Witt

German placement exam
Contact: Katja Garloff

Greek placement exam
Contact: Ellen Millender

Latin placement exam
Contact: Ellen Millender

Music Theory
Contact: Kirsten Volness or Shohei Kobayashi

Russian placement exam
Contact: Naomi Caffee

Spanish placement exam
Contact: Ariadna Garcia-Bryce

Orientation Week Placement Exams

 The following placement exams will be administered in person during Orientation week.  

Physics placement exam
Contact: Darrell Schroeter

Other Placements

There is no placement exam in mathematics. Placement in math classes is explained here.
Contact: Jerry Shurman, Luda Korobenko, or Kyle Ormsby.

Exam Information

Why should I take these exams?

Language exams: Take language exams if you plan to take these languages at any time while you are at Reed. This will help guide your decision-making as you register for classes. Placement tests do not always  satisfy a departmental language requirement. If you are using the test for this purpose, check with your adviser.

Computer science exam: Take the computer science exam if you have any programming experience and are thinking of taking computer science classes. This will help us place you appropriately for your first class. You must sign up in advance to take the exam.

Economics exam: Take the economics placement exam if you are considering any economics coursework while you are at Reed and want to see if you can place out of Economics 201 (Introduction to Economics). Please note that Economics 201 is taught at a level that would be considered intermediate in most colleges and universities. Having taken economics in high school (even AP or IB) is not likely to give you enough depth to be prepared for our upper-level courses. Similarly, many students who have taken an introductory course at 2- or 4-year institutions also find they are not ready to move into Reed’s 300-level coursework. For most students, Economics 201 is the right place to start. However, if you feel you might be ready to move into an upper-level course, you should take the placement exam during the summer testing period in order to find out which course is the right one for you to begin our curriculum.

Mathematics: Students who have completed coursework beyond single-variable calculus should consult with mathematics faculty to determine which mathematics courses are appropriate for them. Placement in math classes is explained hereStudents should contact Jerry Shurman, Luda Korobenko, or Kyle Ormsby to make an appointment to discuss with mathematics faculty.

Music theory exam: Take the music theory exam if you are interested in taking MUS310 this fall or MUS205/210 in the spring without taking the prerequisite courses.

Physics exam: A successful attempt on the physics placement exam allows students to skip Physics 101 and go directly into Physics 102 (offered in the spring).  Students who place out of Physics 101 may want to consider taking Physics 164 in the fall of their first year. If your score is particularly high on the physics placement exam, you will be invited to take a second physics placement exam.  A successful attempt on this second exam will allow you to skip Physics 101 and Physics 102 and go directly into Physics 201 (offered in the fall).  This situation is very rare. Note that you do not receive college credit for passing a placement exam.  Some departments will waive departmental requirements (Physics and Math will waive their departmental Physics 101 requirement for students passing the placement exam) while in other departments this is not automatic and you would need to have a discussion with your adviser about which physics course you should take.

Taking the tests

Chinese, economics, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, or Spanish placement exams:

**Note: Moodle will be offline on July 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT for scheduled maintenance and will be unavailable during this time. 

  • Go to Log in with your Reed username and password.
  • Placement exam links will be at the top of the page. Follow the link to the test you want to take.
  • Click the “Enroll me” button.
  • When you are ready to begin, click “Attempt quiz now.” 
  • Be sure to save your work periodically by using the "Save without submitting" button found at the end of the page.
  • When you are done with the exam, click "Submit all and finish."

Language exams are designed to be one hour in length.

If you are interrupted during the exam (power failure, illness, etc.), please email to let us know what happened.

Computer science placement exam: Sign up in advance using this form if you would like to take the exam.

Music theory placement exam:
  • You will need to be logged into your Reed email account to access the exam files in this linked folder
  • 1. Determine which placement exam best fits your experience level and complete only one exam.
  • 2. Read the Music Theory Placement Exam Instructions PDF before you begin.
  • 3. Download, print, and complete the exam. You may use a tablet to markup the PDF if you prefer, but we would like to see your hand-written answers. Please make note of the MP3 audio file provided for your reference.
  • 4. Submit a legible scan/photo(s) of your completed exam.
  • 5. We will email you with results and can schedule a meeting to discuss them if you'd like.

Physics placement exam:

  • The exam is offered in person during Orientation Week. The date, time, and location will be announced by July 1. 
  • The exam is a 50-minute closed-book exam.  
  • The exam covers kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, rotational motion, and oscillations.
  • You should spend no more than an hour reviewing for the exam. 

Exam results

The language tests focus on reading comprehension and grammar. For modern languages, if you have doubts about your speaking ability, contact the faculty member listed above to arrange a meeting.

If you complete your exam by June 16, 11:59 p.m. PT, your test results will be available in IRIS ( after June 21 so that you and your adviser can use this information as you plan your fall course schedule. Once you have logged in to IRIS, select Student Information, then check "Exams/Placement." If you take your exams June 21 or later, the results should be recorded in IRIS within 10 days. 

If you would like to take an easier or a more difficult course than indicated by the results, you are welcome to discuss this with the faculty contact listed above. 


Technical questions about the test can be sent to Questions about courses can be directed to the faculty members listed above.

The Honor Principle

You are a member of the Reed community and, as such, are bound to operate under the Honor Principle. One of the benefits to living with the Honor Principle is the trust that faculty place in students. This means that you agree to take the exam without aids, prompts, or proctors. Do not consult textbooks or other resources while taking this test. 

Although we trust that honor will guide your choices, we also hope you’ll realize that it is not in your best interest to cheat on a placement test, since doing so might put you in a class that doesn’t match your skill level. The goal of the exam is to identify the course that will be most appropriate for you.