Why are there placements?
Taking a placement exam can be stressful, but don't worry. The primary idea is that there is no pass or fail. Your performance and answers to profile questions will help the undergraduate coordinators in foreign language departments place you in classes that best meet your skill levels. Occasionally, the placement exam can be be used as a first step towards fulfilling a language requirement by demonstrating your proficiency.
Why are the tests online?
Online testing has several advantages. The first of these advantages is that you can take the test before you arrive on campus. This will mean that, in most cases, you will know your placement before or almost as soon as you arrive. The second advantage is that you can take the test at your own pace, in the comfort of your own setting, as opposed to a timed exam in a large auditorium or lecture room.
Although each test has a unique format and layout, the overall experience of each is indeed similar. To begin, you will need a Northwestern University Network ID (NetID) and password to gain access to the testing system. After logging in to the system for the first time, you will be asked to complete a short profile that includes your school and anticipated major of study.
After completing the profile information, you will be presented with a list of available language tests, from which you can choose any one that is online and available. Tests that are not available will be "grayed out" and cannot be selected. After selecting a test, you will then review the testing agreement that affirms your adherence to the Northwestern honor code. If you accept the agreement, you will then begin the test.
A test is composed of multiple pages, usually starting with survey questions on the first 1 to 2 pages, before proceeding to a number of pages containing questions that may, depending upon the language, be multiple-choice, fill-in the blank, or short compositions. When you begin, please answer the survey questions carefully because your answers help determine proper placement.
On each page of the test, there are buttons at the bottom of the page to either "Save work thus far" or "Save & Go on to the next page." The latter of these buttons is most intuitive: as you move from one page to the next page, your work is automatically saved. However, if for any reason you would like to periodically save your work on a given test page and not go on to the next page, you can click the "Save work thus far" button. It will save a copy of the work you have done on the current test page in case you are disconnected or something unforeseen happens. You may wish to click this button, for example, if you are filling in answers on a long test page with more than 10 or 20 questions.
When you reach the end of the test you will be told that you can then finalize and commit your answers. This is the virtual-world equivalent "handing-in" your test. You must finalize your test if you wish for it to be reviewed by a placement coordinator. After finalizing your test, you will receive a confirmation number that you can either print out or note down.
Can you offer any advice?
Relax. Put yourself at ease. Be sure to read the information specific to the particular language. Depending upon the circumstances, you might not even have to take a placement exam. But if you do, be sure to allocate enough time to take your test (in most cases around 2 hours), and be honest with yourself.
What if I need technical help?
If you need technical help regarding the placement test, or experienced an odd disconnection problem and would like advice, please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to the placement-test technical administration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Internet connectivity has improved dramatically since 1996, when online testing was first introduced, it is possible that you might become disconnected from the Internet while taking a test. If a disconnection happens in the middle of your test, it can be both frightening and frustrating. But, fear not! In most cases, you will not have to start over again from the beginning.
If you are disconnected while filling out your registration information, try to go back and fill it in again and continue. After logging in to the test system, you can always verify that your profile information is correct by choosing, "Edit Profile" from the test selection menu.
If you are disconnected while filling out answers on a test, you will lose at most only the answers on that web page. Your answers to the other test pages will have been already recorded and saved. To continue where you left off, you should log in to the to the test system again. A testing agreement page will indicate that you were on a certain page of your test and will return you to that page if you re-agree.
If your question is of a more academic nature, the technical group will be unable to effectively answer. We suggest that you send e-mail to the placement coordinator(s) for the foreign language. Often the coordinators have a broad understanding of the technical issues of the placement test as well as the academic and administrative issues related to your test. As an analogy, the placement coordinator would be the 'teacher' grading your test.
Prof. Fatima Khan
Prof. Chin-Hung Chang
Prof. Aude Raymond
Prof. Franziska Lys
Prof. Paola Morgavi
Prof. Junko Sato
Prof. Ihnhee Kim
Prof. Francesca Tataranni
Prof. Elisabeth Elliott
Prof. Shannon Millikin
Prof. Michael Wairungu
Hindi / Urdu
Prof. Raim Nair