Placement and Prior Learning

"Language is the New Oil that drives everything in the 21st century, and we need globally talented people right now." Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of Global and Localization Association

Because knowledge of a foreign language is such an important skill, students who studied French, German, or Spanish in high school and who hope to achieve greater fluency are strongly encouraged to continue studying that foreign language as college freshmen so that they strengthen and increase their language proficiency and avoid losing knowledge previously attained. Students who wait until their sophomore or junior year to continue language study too often discover that they have unfortunately forgotten most of their language skills, skills they dedicated years to attain. Students may also choose to study a brand new language, even if they have prior foreign language experience.

Students who wish to continue their language study sit a written placement exam; the online exam is free. The placement exam serves two functions: (1) it helps students who desire to continue studying a foreign language begun in high school to ascertain the appropriate level or course in which to enroll at Augustana; and (2) it allows students who studied French, German or Spanish in high school but who do not wish to continue studying foreign languages at the collegel-level to attempt to place out of Augustana's two-semester language requirement. Students whose placement exam results indicate language course of 210 (Intermediate 1) or higher and who desire to test-out of the language requirement must sit an oral test-out exam; a free fifteen minute speaking and listening examination given by an MDFL faculty member.

Written Placement & Oral Test-Out Examinations

1. Students with no prior foreign language experience, or students who wish to study a new foreign language.

A language Placement Examination is not required. Students enroll in and complete 110 and 111 of a chosen foreign language to fulfill Augustana's two-semester General Education (SOPHIA)  requirement.

2. Students who took the Advanced Placement (AP) Examination in French, German or Spanish

Augustana policy states that students who obtain grades of 4 or 5 on the AP French, German or Spanish Examination are to be given automatic credit and placement.

  • Credit: for an AP score of 4 or 5, students receive six credits (equivalent to 110 and 111).
  • Placement: For students desiring to continue their language study:
    • AP score of 5: placement into a 300-level course during the fall semester of the Freshman year. By completing the course with a grade of C- or better, students are eligible to purchase eight transcripted credits (equivalent to 210 and 211).
    • AP score of 4: placement into 210 during the fall semester of the Freshmen year.
    • A decision not to enroll in the course during the fall semester of the Freshmen year, or to delay the college start date to the Interim or Spring terms, rescinds the placement offer and requires students to take the online placement examination.
    • AP score of 3 or below: see #3 below.

3. Students (a) who achieve an AP score of 3 or below, or (b) with language experience but without AP or CLEP results.

  • Written Placement Exam: Students are required to take the free online Written Placement Examination that helps assure enrollment in the language course most appropriate for a student's proficiency level.
    • Students take the Exam prior to on-campus freshmen registration.
    • Students are not allowed to use dictionaries or online resources, and may have no assistance of any kind during the examination. Students must also sign digitally the Student Honor Code prior to taking the examination.
    • Students must take the course indicated by the placement results. Students who place into 111 or higher are eligible to obtain transcripted credits by completing the class indicated by the placement results with a grade of C- or higher.
    • Students may take the Written Placement Exam one time, and may retest one more time six months after the initial exam.
  • Oral Test-Out Exam: Students who place into 210 or higher and who desire to test out of Augustana's language requirement must sit an Oral Test-Out Examination. The fifteen-minute oral interview is conducted in person, or via Skype or Google Meet, by an MDFL faculty member who will ascertain students' listening and spoken proficiency.
    • A passing grade on the Oral Test-Out Examination exempts students from Augustana's language requirement; students receive no credit. To be eligible for transcripted credits, students must complete the course indicated by the placement results with a score of C- or better.
    • A non-passing grade on the Oral Test-Out Examination requires students to complete a language course based on the results of the Written Placement and Oral Test-Out exams, and in consultation with the faculty member.

4. Students who take the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) French, German or Spanish

  • Score of 50-58: students receive six credits (equivalent to 110 and 111) and complete Augustana's language requirement. Students desiring to continue their language study enroll in 210.
  • Score of: 59 or higher in French; 60 or higher in German; or 63 or higher in Spanish: students receive fourteen credits (equivalent to 110, 111, 210 and 211) and are exempt from  Augustana's two-semester language requirement. Students desiring to continue their language studies should consult with an MDFL faculty member.
  • Students who are not successful on the first attempt may retest one more time six months after the initial exam. See: www.augie.edu/college-level-examination-program-clep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I choose to study a language different from the one I started in high school?
Yes! Students can elect to try a new modern or classical language and can fulfill the General Education language requirement by completing Introduction to language I and II. Language selection might depend on personal interest, heritage, or career ambitions. Students with previous language experience who decide to try a new language are not required to take the online placement exam, but are nonetheless encouraged to begin their language study as freshman to afford time for a language minor or major should they so desire. Waiting until the sophomore or junior year to begin studying a language will not usually allow students enough time to complete the requirements of a minor or major before graduation.

When and where do I take the placement exam and/or oral test-out exam?

For all information on placement and oral test-out examinations, please visit the Foreign Language Placement and Oral Test-Out examinations page.

For additional information or questions, contact Academic Support Services.