Undergraduate
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First-Year Students
First-Year FAQ

Placement Exams/Credits

Why are there so many types of exams with different names?

There are multiple exams because they serve different purposes including assessing general knowledge, earning exemptions, and earning course credit. The nomenclature of these exams is not consistent across departments. Below is a summary of exams administered to incoming engineering students.

Math Placement Exams
Administration: Online, Canvas
Required/Optional: Required
Purpose: Initial assessment of calculus knowledge

Math Proficiency
Administration: The process for 2021 is currently under review
Required/Optional: Optional*+
Purpose: Earn exemption(s) from math courses

Initial Chemistry Assessment
Administration: Online, Canvas
Required/Optional: Required
Purpose: Assessment of chemistry knowledge. Determine placement in CHEM 110 or CHEM 151

Chemistry Placement Exam
Administration: Online, Canvas
Required/Optional: Required for those taking Chem 171 or Chem 210-1   
Purpose: Place into higher level of chemistry than CHEM 151

*Students who were not able to take associated AP/IB exams and wish to demonstrate knowledge of calculus or chemistry should consider taking these exams and should discuss this with their first-year adviser.

+Math proficiency exam requires documentation of a completed math course or program.

What is the purpose of the math placement exams, and how do the results get used?

The math placement exams are short, required, online exams administered through Canvas which do not earn credit nor exemptions. They serve as an initial diagnostic tool to help academic advisers determine which math course(s) to recommend (class number and/or honors), and whether you should consider taking further math proficiency exams to earn exemptions. For these reasons, we recommend that you take the assessment exams seriously.

What is the purpose of the math proficiency process, and how do the results get used?

The math proficiency process is under review for 2021. Your first-year advisor will contact you with more information regarding how to earn exemptions for math.

What is the purpose of the initial chemistry assessment, and how do the results get used?

All incoming first-year students are required to take the online initial chemistry assessment. This assessment evaluates basic problem solving and quantitative aspects of foundational chemistry material that is typically covered in high school chemistry courses. It is a timed exam that will determine whether a student should start the General Chemistry sequence with CHEM 110 or CHEM 151. Below is a link that provides more information about this assessment from the Department of Chemistry:

https://www.chemistry.northwestern.edu/undergraduate/courses-curriculum/

What is the purpose of the chemistry placement exam, and how do the results get used?

The chemistry placement exam is an online, timed exam covering the course material from CHEM 110, 131/151 with lab (132/152). The exam is optional and only necessary for students trying to improve their course placement (e.g. start with CHEM 171 or 210-1). We recommend that you take the chemistry placement exam if you require further chemistry for your engineering major and wish to take CHEM 171 or CHEM 210-1. You do not need permission from your first-year adviser to take the chemistry placement exam. Below is a link that provides more information from the Department of Chemistry:

https://www.chemistry.northwestern.edu/undergraduate/programs/freshmen.html

I submitted my AP/IB/other scores to the Registrar's Office. When can I see them on CAESAR and how do I view them?

The Registrar's Office works to update AP/IB and other score information throughout the summer so that those credits are posted once you begin fall quarter, though timelines can vary. To view your credits, log into CAESAR, go to “Academic Records” and click “Test & Transfer Credit Report”.

Be sure to report AP/IB information where requested in Dossier so your adviser can help you form the best plan for registration.

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