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Placement Test FAQs

The Department of World Languages and Cultures at TCNJ offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

Latin is offered in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Classical Studies.

American Sign Language is offered in the Education of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing program, in the School of Education, Department of Special Education, Language & Literacy.

Revised 11/12/2019

1. Who needs to take a placement exam?

In order to enroll in a language course, all students need to take the placement exam.  There are exceptions for a few specific circumstances, which are described below in #3.

2. How do I take the placement exam?

For French, German, Italian, and Spanish, the test is online at this link. The pre-test questions will direct you how to proceed based on your responses. Students are allotted 40 minutes to complete the test. The placement exam determines the course level at which you should start or continue your language studies. Results will post to PAWS overnight, at which time you’ll be able to enroll in the appropriate course.

Students who already speak one of these languages because they grew up in a home where that language was spoken should contact the director of that language program to determine their proficiency level.

French: Dr. Ariane Pfenninger
German: Professor Karen Fenner
Italian: Dr. Simona Wright
Spanish: Dr. Joe Goebel, Jr.

For Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, the program directors for those languages conduct the exam in person, whether the student has studied the language formally or speaks it at home.

Arabic: Professor Nelly Taha
Chinese: Dr. Jia-Yan Mi
Japanese: Dr. Holly Didi-Ogren
Russian: Dr. Alex Berg

3. Who is exempt from the placement exam?

Students who have received any of the following:

  • 650 or higher on the College Board Subject Test
  • 5 on the AP exam
  • 7 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level examination

are exempt from the placement exam.

Incoming first-year students who took a language AP exam are encouraged to take the language placement test even if they are still waiting for their test results. An AP score of 5 fulfills the language proficiency requirement, and the Office of Records and Registration will record that score in PAWS.

Students who are exempt from the placement exam may continue with their study of the language at the 200 level, and apply those courses toward an academic minor in that language.

4. How long do I have to wait to get my score?

Your test score will display immediately after submitting your last answer. You will also get your score in email. Scores will post to PAWS overnight, at which time you’ll be able to enroll in the appropriate course.

5. What if I completed 4 or more years of language study in high school?

Students who completed 4 or more years of language study in high school are required to take the placement exam. Students who have completed four or more years of study (or its equivalent) in high school in French, German, Italian, or Spanish will not receive credit for 101 if they place into it. In this case we recommend that you fulfill your language requirement with a different language. Students who have taken Latin in high school and place into Latin 101 will receive credit for that course.

6. Does my placement test result automatically enroll me into the class?

No. Your placement score simply tells you the appropriate course level to enroll in.

7. What happens if I earn an exemption score on the online test?

Students will be instructed to contact the Department of World Languages and Cultures office to validate their exemption score. These students should make an appointment by writing

8. I’m a native/heritage/fluent speaker of a language that’s not taught at TCNJ. Can I use my proficiency in this language to test out of my language requirement?

If you would like to be tested for exemption in a language not mentioned here, The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) may offer a proficiency exam for it. The test is an interview via webcam on your computer by an oral proficiency examiner, and lasts from 15-30 minutes. You can see the list of languages, get more information, and register at their website,

A few languages can be tested by TCNJ faculty as well, such as Hindi, Hebrew, Polish, Korean, Portuguese, and Ukrainian; contact the Department of World Languages and Cultures for more information.

If you demonstrate an Intermediate Low level or higher on the oral proficiency exam, you will fulfill your language proficiency requirement.

9. What if I’m a transfer student?

Transfer students who plan to continue studying a language at TCNJ must take the placement test in that language. Transfer students who have an Associates Degree – AA or AS – from a New Jersey Community College are waived from the language requirement with the exception of majors in Spanish, World Languages and Linguistics, International Studies, and Urban Education.

10. What if I still have questions?

For Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish
Contact:  Department of World Languages & Culture
Phone:  609.771.2235

For Latin and Greek
Contact: Dr. Holly Haynes, Co-Coordinator of Classical Studies
Phone: 609.771.2106

For American Sign Language
Contact: Barbara Strassman, Deaf/HOH Education Coordinator
Phone: 609.771.2805