Placement Tests | Accreditation Examinations | Mathematics Credit | Chemistry Accreditation Examinations | Advanced Placement Credit | International Baccalaureate Programme | British A-Levels and Other Examinations

In order to earn a degree from the College of the University of Chicago, a student must obtain credit for at least forty-two quarter courses (4200 units), distributed among general education requirements, major program requirements, and electives, as described in the section on the curriculum at the front of this publication. For students matriculating in Autumn 2017 or later, of the 4200 units, 3800 units of credit must be earned by course enrollment, i.e., not credit by examination.

All students receive credit toward their degrees by taking courses in the College. In addition, students may receive credit and/or satisfy College requirements in the following ways: by placement test; by Advanced Placement (AP) examinations; by accreditation examination; by International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme; and by credit transferred from another institution. The limits and conditions placed on credit earned in these various ways are explained in the following section and on the Transfer Credit page. A student must be in residence at the University of Chicago for at least six quarters and must successfully complete a minimum of eighteen courses (1800 units) while in residence. More than half of the requirements for a major or minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.

Placement Tests

Placement tests serve to adapt the needs and backgrounds of individual students to the College curriculum. They place entering students at the proper level of study in a given subject. On the one hand, placement tests minimize the repetition of subjects already mastered and, on the other, they reduce the possibility that students might begin their programs with courses for which they are inadequately prepared. Placement tests measure skill in problem solving as well as general knowledge in a subject field. Students who have some background in the areas being tested are urged to review it, but incoming students without such knowledge are not expected to acquire it over the summer preceding entrance.

Placement tests may be taken only at the time of matriculation and each test may be taken only once. Information that describes these tests is sent to incoming first-year and transfer students.

Chemistry Placement Test

Students who wish to enroll in chemistry must take the online chemistry placement test along with the mathematics placement test (or they must have earned a score of 5 on the AP chemistry exam).

Economics Placement Test

Students who wish to begin their economics major with ECON 20000 The Elements of Economic Analysis I in their first year must pass the economics placement test or complete ECON 19800 Introduction to Microeconomics. No standardized external exams (IB, AP, A-Levels) will substitute. The placement test will be offered Monday evening of the first week of Autumn Quarter.

Language Placement Tests

Language placement tests are required of students who plan to continue in languages studied prior to entrance in the College. Language placement tests determine where a student begins language study; results do not confer credit or satisfy the language competency requirement. 

Online placement tests in some languages may be taken the summer before arrival on campus. Students will be given instructions in early July on how to access more information. For placement in languages without an online exam, students meet with a coordinator in the language during Orientation Week. 

International students are not permitted to take language placement exams in their native language. Students interested in further study in their native language should consult with the appropriate language coordinator for course recommendations.

Placement tests are not available in languages not taught at the University of Chicago. For additional information, visit humanities.uchicago.edu/about/languages-uchicago.

Mathematics Placement Test

Every entering student must take the mathematics placement test. This online test must be taken during the summer before arrival on campus. Scores on the mathematics placement test, combined with a student’s high school record, determine the appropriate beginning mathematics course for each student:

Students who receive a sufficiently high score on the mathematics placement test may receive an invitation to enroll in MATH 16100 Honors Calculus I/MATH 16110 Honors Calculus I (IBL). On the basis of placement test results, students may also be invited to sit an on-campus calculus accreditation examination prior to the start of Autumn Quarter, which would allow placement into courses at a higher level than MATH 15300 (see below).

Scores on the mathematics placement test are used to determine placement into CHEM 10100 Introductory General Chemistry I, CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I, CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I, PHYS 13100 Mechanics, and PHYS 14100 Honors Mechanics.

Accreditation Examinations

Credit is available by accreditation examinations, which are optional, to those students who have already studied certain subjects at the college level. See the information below under each subject heading for when these exams are offered. In the case of a course where both experimental and theoretical skills are involved, students may be required to fulfill the laboratory portion along with the rest of the class.

College credit achieved by accreditation examination is entered as units of credit on the student’s official academic record. Letter grades are not assigned. An accreditation examination may be taken only once.

Calculus Accreditation Examination

Students who have scored at a high level on the online mathematics placement test (described above) will receive an invitation to take the calculus accreditation examination, which will be offered prior to the Autumn Quarter. Students planning to continue with higher level mathematics or other disciplines requiring advanced mathematics are urged to take this College-administered accreditation exam. On the basis of this exam, a student may receive placement into:

Students may also be invited to begin MATH 16100 Honors Calculus I/MATH 16110 Honors Calculus I (IBL) or MATH 20700 Honors Analysis in Rn I. Students who are invited to begin Honors Calculus are encouraged to forgo credit in MATH 15100 Calculus I and/or MATH 15200 Calculus II in order to take the full Honors Calculus sequence, MATH 16100-16200-16300 Honors Calculus I-II-III or MATH 16110-16210-16310 Honors Calculus I (IBL); Honors Calculus II (IBL); Honors Calculus III (IBL).

Mathematics Credit

Students who have placement into MATH 15200 Calculus II will earn examination credit for MATH 15100 Calculus I only upon completion of MATH 15200. Students who have placed into MATH 15300 Calculus III may receive examination credit for MATH 15100 and MATH 15200 by completing MATH 15300. Additionally, students who have placement into MATH 15300 but do not intend to take any further calculus courses (e.g., humanities majors, pre-health students) may earn examination credit for MATH 15100 and MATH 15200 by receiving a sufficiently high score on the calculus accreditation examination.

Chemistry Accreditation Examinations

Students who are exceptionally well prepared in chemistry may earn credit for one or more quarters of chemistry on the basis of AP scores or accreditation examinations. Students who have taken the Advanced Placement (AP) test in chemistry and received a grade of 5 will be given credit for CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I. The Department of Chemistry also administers an accreditation examination in CHEM 11100-11200-11300 Comprehensive General Chemistry I-II-III. Students may receive credit for chemistry on the basis of their performance on these examinations. The examination in general chemistry is offered only during Orientation, or at the start of Autumn Quarter by arrangement with Dr. Vera Dragisich, Department of Chemistry, 702.3071. Only incoming students (i.e., first-year and transfer students) are eligible to take these examinations.

Physics Accreditation Examinations

Accreditation examinations are administered for the content of PHYS 12100-12200-12300 General Physics I-II-III and PHYS 14100-14200-14300 Honors Mechanics; Honors Electricity and Magnetism; Honors Waves, Optics, and Heat. The first examination may be taken by incoming students only at the time of matriculation in the College. Students who pass the first examination (for PHYS 12100 General Physics I or PHYS 14100 Honors Mechanics) will receive credit for the lecture part of the course only and will then be invited to try the next examination of the series. Entering students who have taken AP physics in high school but who do not receive AP credit from the College (and who do not plan to major in physics) may take the PHYS 12100 General Physics I accreditation examination. Students who receive AP credit for PHYS 12100-12200 General Physics I-II but whose planned major requires PHYS 13100-13200 Mechanics; Electricity and Magnetism or PHYS 14100-14200-14300 Honors Mechanics; Honors Electricity and Magnetism; Honors Waves, Optics, and Heat are eligible to take the PHYS 14100 Honors Mechanics examination. Entering transfer students who choose a major requiring physics but who are not granted transfer credit for a completed calculus-based introductory physics sequence may take one of the accreditation examinations.

NOTE: Accreditation examinations in physics confer credit only for the lecture portion of the courses; additional laboratory work may be required.

Advanced Placement Credit

Students who request college credit or fulfillment of College requirements for Advanced Placement (AP) examinations taken in high school (i.e., before a student matriculates in the College) are asked to submit an official report of their scores on the AP tests given by the College Entrance Examination Board. The decision to grant credit is reported at the end of the first year in residence and units of credit awarded appear on the student’s official academic record.

While AP scores alone are sometimes used to establish placement or to confer credit, satisfactory performance on the College’s own placement tests may supplement AP scores and lead to additional credit.

The following chart shows how AP credit is automatically awarded. For further information on how credit may be used toward individual degree programs, a student should consult his or her College adviser. For more information on how AP credit may be used to meet major requirements, refer to the major requirements listed under “Programs of Study” in this catalog.

NOTE: For students matriculating in Autumn 2017 or later, at least 3800 units of credit must be earned by course enrollment, i.e., not credit by examination. For students matriculating in Autumn 2018 or later, only scores of 5 on approved tests will confer language competency.

Students who matriculated prior to 2017 should refer to the Advanced Placement credit table in the catalog of their year of matriculation for earlier guidelines regarding AP credit. Archived catalogs can be found here.

AP Exam Score Credit Awarded 2018-19
Art History 5 100 units general elective credit
Biology 4 100 units general education (BIOS 10130)
Biology 5 100 units general education (BIOS 10130)+
Calculus AB 5 MATH 15100 placement
Calculus BC 4 MATH 15200 placement
Calculus BC 5 MATH 15200 placement †
Chemistry 5 CHEM 11100*
Economics: Micro AND Macro 5 100 units general elective credit
English Language and Composition 5 100 units general elective credit
English Literature and Composition 5 100 units general elective credit
Government and Politics: Comparative AND U.S. 5 100 units general elective credit
History: European 5 100 units general elective credit
History: U.S. 5 100 units general elective credit
History: World 5 100 units general elective credit
Music Theory 5 100 units general elective credit
Physics C: Mechanics AND E&M 5 PHYS 12100-12200 ‡
Physics C: Mechanics only 5 PHYS 12100
Physics C: E&M only 5 PHYS 12200
Statistics 5 STAT 22000++
Studio Art (2-D Design, 3-D Design, or Drawing) 5 100 units general elective credit
Chinese Language and Culture; French Language and Culture; German Language and Culture; Italian Language and Culture; Japanese Language and Culture; Latin (Literature or Vergil); Spanish Language and Culture; Spanish Literature and Culture 5 Satisfies the Language Competency Requirement

Students may earn any amount of credit from AP exams, placement, accreditation, IB, or other examinations. However, for students matriculating in Autumn 2017 or later, at least 3800 units must be earned through course enrollment. Students who enrolled prior to Autumn 2017 should consult the catalog of their year of entry for policies regarding the use of AP and examination credit, or speak to their College adviser.

AP Physics or Calculus: Students who register for physics or calculus forgo AP credit for the courses they complete.

International Baccalaureate Programme

Credit earned for courses in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme may be applied to certain general education requirements or to electives as described below. Credit will not be granted for other exams. Course credit is only granted for grades of 7 on Higher-Level IB Examinations (HL). The Language Competency Requirement may be satisfied with grades of 5, 6 or 7 on Higher-Level IB Examinations (HL) in languages other than English. Students who receive a 7 on the Higher-Level Calculus exam receive placement into MATH 15200.

IB Examination Score Credit Awarded 2018-19
Biology 7 Higher Level 100 units general education (BIOS 10130)
English 7 Higher Level 100 units general elective credit
Languages other than English 5, 6, or 7 Higher Level Satisfies the Language Competency Requirement

British A-Levels and Other Examinations

Students with A-level work in calculus, physics, and chemistry are encouraged to take the College’s placement and/or accreditation examinations prior to matriculation. Credit for A-level work in biology may be awarded by petition to the Senior Adviser in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division; credit for A-levels in other fields except language may be awarded by petition to the Dean of Students in the College. No credit is given for general education requirements in humanities or social science. Elective credit may be given only for grades of A in the Advanced Test in liberal arts subjects.