CAS requires all students to demonstrate or develop proficiency at or above the intermediate level in a language other than English.
Proficiency in a second language provides insight into other cultures, enables direct contact with literature and other written and oral texts, and combined with other fields of study, serves a multitude of practical and professional purposes. It sharpens skills in one’s first language, and it develops critical thinking and understanding needed for life in multicultural and multilingual societies in the US and elsewhere.
Placement examinations are required of any student whose most recent language course was not completed at Boston University. Placement exams DO NOT by themselves fulfill the language requirement.
Upon fulfilling the Second Language Requirement, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate proficiency in all relevant modalities (speaking, writing, reading, listening) at a level that allows for communication and comprehension;
- gain insight into the nature and structure of language; and
- use the language to acquire knowledge of other cultures, past and present.
Placement Tests in Arabic
The Arabic placement test is available on Blackboard Learn. Students may register for the test by contacting Professor Luluah Mustafa at email@example.com and providing their BU login name. Please allow 24 hours for registration.
Once registered, visit http://learn.bu.edu. Login with your BU login name and kerberos password. Click Courses, Choose 00cwr_ArabicPlacementTest: Arabic Placement Test. Please be advised that you cannot place out of the language requirement by taking the placement test online. See additional information about the CAS Language requirement here.
When you are done, please email Professor Mustafa to let her know that you have completed the test.
Placement Tests in Chinese
If you speak Cantonese or Mandarin with your family but your reading ability in Chinese is nonexistent or very limited, you should enroll in LC 116; you are not permitted to enroll in LC111. If you speak Mandarin and are able to read and write on daily topics, you should enroll in LC216. Completion of LC216 fulfils the language requirement. If you have further questions, please email Chinese Language Coordinator for consultation.
If you do not have a Chinese family background but have studied Chinese in high school or in some similar school setting, you must take the online Placement Test, which can be taken from any computer with a microphone. The test uses Simplified Chinese and tests your reading, writing and speaking skills.
To prepare for the online placement test, you need to activate character input on your computer: instructions are available through your computer’s operating system Help option. Search for “language” or “input language” and read the instructions related to adding Chinese as an input language and/or using the Language bar (Windows) or Menu bar (Mac). You will have to use an English keyboard for the first part of the test and then switch to character-based input during the writing section, so make sure you understand how to do that when the time comes.
Logging into the Chinese Placement Test
Enter the Test Code and Password provided below, typing each item EXACTLY as you see it: all codes are case sensitive.
Test Code 4833-pl-cs-1
Unless directed otherwise, for Full Name, enter your First Name followed by one space, then your Middle Name followed by one space, then your Last Name.
Be sure you remember how you entered your name – if you lose connection or stop the test and need to resume, you will have to re‐enter your name exactly as you did the first time.
Upon completion of the exam, you should email the Chinese Language Coordinator in order to receive your results when they are ready. An external evaluator will be grading the oral portion of your exam, so results will not be immediately available.
Understanding your results
|If your Chinese score was…||you should enroll in the following BU course:|
Help and Support:
If you are experiencing any technological difficulty with the exam, please contact the exam support team (Avant Assessment) at (888) 713-7887 between 8:00 am – 7:00 pm Easten Time Monday-Friday
Placement Tests in German
German placement is accomplished by means of an online examination. You will need your university ID number when taking this test. Please click on this link to set up an account and to access the German placement test. Full instructions are provided within the test webpage. You can take this test any time before the start of classes, from any location. Please do not use dictionaries or other assistance when taking the test. This may result in incorrect placement and you will have to change classes in the first week of the semester.
Consult with the German Language Coordinator, Christiane Kaden (firstname.lastname@example.org), 745 Commonwealth Ave., if
- your score is at the extreme of any indicated range
- you feel you are placed too high or too low
- your score is above 530
- you speak German with a family member or have spent some years in a German-speaking environment.
In all of these cases you may be asked to provide a very short essay (6-8 sentences) on either of the following topics: “Meine Lieblingsjahreszeit” or “Eine interessante Reise.”
Please note that neither test scores nor faculty advice is final and that you will have the opportunity to shift to a higher or lower level during the drop/add period should this become necessary.
Heritage speakers (i.e., students with at least one family member who uses German in the home) or students who have spent years in a German-speaking country must make an appointment with Prof. Werk irrespective of their placement-test scores.
Placement Tests in Hebrew
The placement exam is available on Blackboard Learn. Students may register for the exam by contacting Professor Mira Angrist at email@example.com and providing their BU login name. Please allow 24 hours for registration.
Once registered, visit http://learn.bu.edu and click Courses. Choose 0000cwr_HebrewPlacementTest: Hebrew Placement Test. The test is located in the content area and consists of 5 parts and a general information survey. Please be advised that you cannot place out of the language requirement by taking the placement test online. See additional information about the CAS Language Requirement here
Placement Tests in Japanese
If your family speaks Japanese but your reading ability in Japanese is nonexistent or very limited, you should still take the placement test. Similarly, if you have lived in Japan and spoken Japanese there, you should take the placement test, even if your reading ability is limited.
If you have studied Japanese in high school or in some similar school setting, you must take the placement test.
The Japanese placement exam is an online test you can take any time before the start of classes, from any location. You should plan to start and finish the test in one sitting.
Please do not use dictionaries, consult friends, webpages or seek other assistance when taking the test. This may result in incorrect placement, and you will have to change classes in the first week of the semester.
The test will be graded automatically. Go to “After the Test” and see what level is suitable for you or use the table below.
Level 1 Test
Level 2 Test
41 points or above- 400 level class
If you score above 20, please complete “Writing Sample “ and follow the instructions.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if:
- your score is at the extremes of an indicated range
- you feel you are placed too high or too low
- your score is above 75
Please note that neither the test scores nor faculty advice are final, and that you will have the opportunity to shift to a higher or lower level during the drop/add period should this become necessary. You might also be asked to shift to another course if your proficiency level in Japanese turns out not to be a good fit for the course in which you are enrolled.
If you have any questions about your placement after you get your test results, please email Prof. Satoru Ishikawa at email@example.com for consultation or to schedule a placement interview.
Placement Tests in Korean
Students who would like to take the Korean placement exam should contact Prof. Jaemin Roh at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Placement Test in Russian
The Russian placement exam is available online via Blackboard Learn. For access, you need to contact Coordinator of the Russian language program at email@example.com, who can enroll you in the Blackboard online test and provide your BU e-mail address.
If your family speaks Russian but your reading ability in Russian is nonexistent or very limited, you should still take the placement test. Similarly, if you have lived in Russia and spoken Russian there, you should take the placement test, even if your reading ability is limited.
If you have studied Russian in high school or in some similar school setting, you must take the placement test.
The Russian placement exam is an online test you can take any time before the start of classes, from any location. You should plan to start and finish the test in one sitting. For a placement test, you do not need to be prepared. Placement test is a holistic assessment of your skills in Russian, which provides diagnostic information critical for placement and for course-specific knowledge.
This is an Honor code online exam. Please do not use dictionaries, consult friends, webpages or seek other assistance when taking the test. This may result in incorrect placement, and you will have to change classes in the first week of the semester.
Please note: You have 60 minutes to complete this test. Once started, this test must be completed in one sitting. After you complete the placement exam, please email Professor Malykhina at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be in touch with you to let you know when you can meet with her about the class that best suits your level.
Please note that neither the test scores nor faculty advice are final, and that you will have the opportunity to shift to a higher or lower level during the drop/add period should this become necessary. You might also be asked to shift to another course if your proficiency level in Russian turns out not to be a good fit for the course in which you are enrolled.
Placement Tests in other languages
Q: I feel insecure about my background in a language. My placement test tells me that I’m at a certain level, but I’d feel more comfortable taking a lower level instead. Can I?
A: This is almost always a really bad idea. Read why.
Students who have taken language courses at other colleges than Boston University should see the foreign language advisor, Mira Angrist, in the CAS Student Advising Office, 353-2400, before selecting a BU course. This is in addition to the need to take the a placement test (credit and placement are two different things). If you enroll in a course that’s equivalent to one you’ve already taken elsewhere, you’ll forfeit credit, so be sure to ask the language advisor first!
Please speak with a faculty member in your language of interest if you have questions.
If you scored a 5 on the Chinese AP, you have credit for CAS LC 212. If you plan to take more advanced courses in Chinese, you’ll need to take a placement exam. If you got a 5 on the Chinese AP but your placement score indicates that you should be in LC 212 or below, talk with a faculty member in Chinese to discuss your options.
If you scored a 4 on the German AP, you have credit for CAS LG 212. If you scored a 5, you have credit equivalent to one course numbered LG 305-309. But if you plan to go on and take more German at BU (and why wouldn’t you, seeing how good you are at it?), you should still take the placement test. If the placement test tells you something different from your AP score, please contact a German faculty member right away to discuss the best course of action.
If you scored a 4 on the Japanese AP, you have credit for CAS LJ 212. But if you plan to go on with your study of Japanese, as we hope you will, you must take the placement test as well. If the placement test places you in LJ 212 or below despite your AP score of 4, it’s essential that you contact a Japanese faculty member for advice.
SAT II Results
A score of 560 or higher on the SAT Foreign Language Subject Test in Chinese, French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, or Spanish. Students are encouraged to take these exams before applying for admission. Information is available in CAS Academic Advising at 100 Bay State Road, 4th Floor. NOTE: In January 2021, the College Board announced it would no longer offer SAT Subject Tests in the US, and, after the June 2021 test date, would no longer offer them internationally. Students who have prior SAT Subject Test scores in languages may still submit them for fulfillment of the requirement.