Language Placement

It is recommended that students begin to satisfy the Foreign Language Requirement in their first semester and continue to take courses consecutively until the requirement is fulfilled. Students planning to continue with a language that they have studied previously should read about language placement below. Students who decide to start a new language at Penn should anticipate that it will require four full semesters of course work to achieve competency in the language and to fulfill the Foreign Language Requirement.

At the time they first enroll in a beginning- or intermediate-level language course, all students who have previously studied that language must have a placement score. The only students exempt from having a placement score are those who have never studied the language before. Credit will not be given for a language course taken at a lower level than a student's placement score indicates.

French and Spanish offer ongoing online exams. Spanish offers additional guidelines for selecting the appropriate level based on the student’s language experience. The remaining language departments offer written exams at the beginning of each semester. The schedule and location of these exams in the fall will appear on the New Student Orientation website during the preceding summer.

Students wishing to be evaluated in a modern language other than those taught by the language departments should consult the Penn Language Center.

Students who feel their placement scores do not accurately reflect their language level, or students who have other questions about their language study, should make an appointment to speak with the coordinator of their particular language program.

S.A.T.II Exam Scores and Registration Guidelines

Students who have taken the S.A.T.II exam prior to the beginning of their first semester at Penn may use that score to place them in the proper level:

S.A.T. II Score Register for
French Under 380 FREN 110
  380 - 440 FREN 121
  450 - 540 FREN 130
  550 - 640* FREN 140
  650 or above Exempt
German Under 350 GRMN 101
  350 - 440 GRMN 102
  450 - 540 GRMN 103
  550 - 640** GRMN 104
  650 or above Exempt
Hebrew 700 or above*** Exempt
Italian Under 380 ITAL 110
  380 - 440 ITAL 120
  450 - 540 ITAL 130
  550 - 640* ITAL 140
  650 or above Exempt
Japanese Students who score 650 or above may satisfy the requirement by demonstrating oral proficiency in an interview.
Korean Students who score 700 or above may satisfy the requirement if they pass the speaking and writing components of the Korean Proficiency Test  during New Student Orientation. They do not need to take the online part of the Korean Proficiency Test.
Latin Under 450 LATN 101
  450 - 540 LATN 102
  550 - 590 LATN 203
  600 - 640 LATN 204
  650 or above Exempt
Russian Under 350 RUSS 001
  350 - 440 RUSS 002
  450 - 540 RUSS 003
  550 - 640* RUSS 004
  650 or above Exempt
Spanish Under 380 SPAN 110
  380-440 SPAN 120 or 121
  450 - 540 SPAN 130
  550 - 640* SPAN 140
  650 or above Exempt

*Students who score between 600 and 640 can be exempted from the Language Requirement if they pass an oral exam.

**Students who score between 600 and 640 in German can be exempted from the Language Requirement if they achieve a rating of intermediate or better on an oral exam. Students may sign up in the German Department office before the end of the first week of classes.

***Students who score under 700 in Hebrew and wish to continue in the language must take the placement exam offered during New Student Orientation.