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Department ofModern Languages and Literatures

Language Placement Process FAQs

What languages is the placement process available for? This placement tool is available for Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish only. For placement information for Classical Languages (Greek, Latin), fill out the Classical Language Placement Survey or contact the Classics Department

Do I have to complete the Placement Process before registering for a language course? ALL students must complete the language placement process PRIOR TO REGISTERING for their first language course at SCU. If you enroll in your first SCU course in a language without a placement recommendation for that course, you will be dropped from the course. Once you have taken a language course here, that course will serve as your prerequisite for further courses in that language. If you switch to a new language, you will need to complete the placement process again for that language.

If I am an incoming SCU student, do I have to complete the Placement Process before my orientation date? We strongly recommend that all students begin their language studies as soon as possible after entering SCU. If you think you can begin your language studies during your first year on campus, then you should complete the Placement Process at least 14 days prior to your orientation date (or more if possible). Placement Recommendation results can take up to 14 business days to be emailed to you; if you don’t complete the Placement Process with enough lead time, you may not have your results by your orientation and registration date, and therefore would not be able to register for a language course. If you know for sure that you cannot/will not begin your language studies in your first year on campus, you do not have to complete the Placement Process prior to your fall orientation; you can do it at a future time.

Do I have to complete the Placement Process if I’ve already taken a language course at SCU? No. Once you have taken your first course in either Arabic, Chinese, French, German Italian, Japanese, or Spanish at SCU, that course will serve as your prerequisite for further courses in that language. If you switch to a new language that you have never studied at SCU, you must complete the language placement process for that language.

Do I have to complete the language Placement Process if I’ve never studied the language I want to study at SCU? Yes. Even if you’ve never studied the language previously, you will need to complete our language placement process and obtain a placement recommendation before registering for your language course.

Do I have to complete the Placement Process if I did the AP test in a language? Yes, but only if you wish to continue your studies in that language here at SCU. If you received an AP score that satisfies the Core Second Language Requirement, and you do not wish to take more courses in that language, you do not need to complete the placement process. However, we strongly recommend you continue your language studies – not only to keep improving your skills, but also not to miss out on competitive opportunities available to students with second language skills, such as study abroad, internships, fellowships, and other MODLL and campus awards.

I will satisfy my Core Second Language Requirement with my AP test score from high school, but now I would like to study a different language at SCU. Can I still study additional languages even though I’ve already satisfied my Core Second Language Requirement? Absolutely! But you will need to complete the MODLL Placement Process for the new language(s) you wish to study.

I completed the Placement Process already, but I’ve decided I’d prefer to study a different language than the one I indicated in the Placement Process. What should I do? You will need to complete the entire Placement Process again for the other language.

What is the placement process like? Our placement tools are sensitive to your level of experience with the language you wish to study; you will be directed to complete different components of this process depending on your experience. One component of the process involves a survey of your general experiences with language learning, another involves a language-specific skills assessment. If you are directed to complete the skills assessment component, you will be given detailed instructions about how to access and complete it.

Can I access the Placement Process through my ecampus? No. Please follow the instructions in the Orientation information or visit the Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures’ webpage and click on “Language Placement Process”.

Do I have to pay to complete the Placement Process? There are costs associated with completing the Placement Process, but SCU pays for our students to complete this process ONE time (per language they intend to study). The Placement Results are valid for three years. If a student repeats the Placement Process within that 3-year period, the results obtained will not be valid, and the student will be billed for the cost of this test.

How long does it take to complete the Placement Process? The time it will take to complete depends on your experience with language learning and the specific language you wish to study. It can take as little as a few minutes or it can take up to about 45 minutes, plus the time required to read and carefully follow instructions you are given. Once you begin the Placement Process, you MUST complete all parts of the process within 24 hours to ensure that you will receive your placement recommendation. A failure to follow this rule may result in you not receiving your placement recommendation and not being able to register for a language course.

Do I have to be on campus to complete the Placement Process? No, you can begin and complete the Placement Process from anywhere you have access to a good internet connection and a smart device.

Do I need my SCU email address to be able to complete the Placement Process? Yes. You will need your SCU email address – it is required that you use this address whenever in the process you are asked to enter an email address. A failure to use your SCU email address may result in your not receiving a placement recommendation, which will delay your ability to register for a language course.

How can I prepare for the Placement Process? The Placement Process is designed to assess your language learning (and language specific) skill level so that we can advise you on the most appropriate language course for you to take here at SCU. As such, you cannot AND SHOULD NOT study for it. If you are directed to complete the language-specific skills assessment component, you may not access any form of help, including online translators, dictionaries, friends, etc. while completing it. You also may not rush through the test purposely giving an inaccurate demonstration of your language skills. Both of these things are a violation of academic integrity that will yield an inaccurate test result, and are subject to punishment by the university. 

I started the Placement Process, but my computer crashed in the middle of it. What do I do? If this happened during the survey component, you can just start over. However, if you were instructed to complete the language skills assessment and you crashed after initiating that session, you can get back into your assessment session by using the “test taker ID” and email that you used when you created your profile. Be sure NOT to choose “Start a New Test”, however. Make sure you are returning to your previous session. SCU pays for one test, but if you initiate subsequent tests, you can be charged for them.

I completed the Placement survey component, and it said I would receive an email with instructions for completing the language skills assessment, but I haven’t received any email yet. What should I do? The email you would receive is

Screenshot showing how to search Mail and Spam and Trash in gmail

If you are using your computer or tablet’s mail app, try opening a browser and accessing your SCU gmail account by going to . Check your inbox, and if you don’t find it, do a search as shown below:  

Please open your inbox and search for that name in all places:

- Click the search drop-down menu

- Select Mail&Spam&Trash from search drop-down

screenshot showing search bar with

Fill-in the search fields as shown here and notice that the “noreply” is one word (no hyphens or spaces between the words). 

Note: if it has been longer than 1 week since you completed the survey component, please change the selection in the “Date within” field to an appropriate timeframe.

Hint: Some users accidentally mute by typing a lower case “m” at the wrong time which is the shortcut for mute. If the email accidentally got muted (meaning it won't show up anymore), you can type the following in the search bar: label:mute

If none of the above work, log-out of your email, restart your browser, log-in again to your inbox, and search again for the sender address ( 

If after trying all of these strategies, you still do not find the email, please contact the Language Coordinator at

I started the Placement Process, but it’s not working. It won’t accept the information I enter. What should I do? It’s possible your computer or your network has gone down, or there is a problem with your browser. Do any or all of the following: clear your browser cache; restart your browser and start over; check your internet connection, and restart your router; restart your computer; wait for a half hour or so and try again.

How will I find out my results? Placement recommendations are generally emailed to your SCU email address no later than 14 business days after completing your skills assessment, though they may be available sooner. Note, you will only receive information about which course/courses you may take; you will not receive a score. Please check your SCU email regularly to not miss this message. Once you receive your placement recommendation email, “star” it and save it so you can easily retrieve it if you need it at a future time.

I think the courses listed in my placement recommendation are too high of a level for me. Can I register in a lower level course? You may only register for a course listed in your Placement Process. There are no exceptions to this rule. But you should not worry! It is very normal to be apprehensive about your level of language proficiency. In fact, research has shown that students tend to significantly underestimate their language skills, mostly because evaluating language proficiency is a very complicated matter. It takes years of study and training to be able to make a reliable assessment of one's language skills. It’s also important to note that if you haven’t yet taken our languages courses, you cannot know with any certainty how qualified or unqualified you are for any level. This is exactly why we have a placement process. Our process is designed to ensure that all students are able to learn the language in a comfortable environment that best suits their learning needs. Our language placement test is a professionally developed, sophisticated and sensitive instrument whose reliability has been empirically validated. You cannot guess past your skill level because of the way the test is set up. Our course placement recommendations are both flexible and conservative: we don’t rely solely on the test score, but also consider the number of years you have previously studied the language as well as how long it's been since taking courses in the language. We do not recommend courses to students that we are not sure they can handle. At the same time, our courses are all rigorous, university-level courses, and you can expect to work hard in any of them. SCU does not enjoy the top reputation that we have without offering courses that challenge and push students to achieve the highest levels possible of language proficiency and global competence, two very highly marketable skills in the world today. Importantly, our courses are not impossible. If you invest the time and effort, you will learn and you will advance. And our language instructors are excellent and are extremely supportive of students’ learning.


I completed the Placement Process over a week ago, but I still have not received my results. What should I do? Placement recommendations can take up to 14 business days after completing your skills assessment to be sent to you. If it has not been 14 business days, then you need to wait a little longer. If it has been 14 business days, check your SCU email inbox, and if you don’t find it there, check your spam box. Use the Gmail search function to search using the following terms “from: Modern Languages Placement Testing” or “PLACEMENT TEST RESULTS”. If after these steps you still do not find your results in your email, it is possible that you did not follow all placement instructions, which could have caused a problem, e.g. you may not have entered you SCU email address. You may need to contact the Placement Coordinator for assistance. See below for contact info.

I received my Placement Recommendation, but I didn’t receive my score? When will I get that? You will not receive a score. Your Placement Recommendation is the final output that you will receive. This is all you need to register into the appropriate course for you.

I have not received my results, but I need to register for a language course very soon. What should I do? If it has not been 14 business days since completing the Placement Process, then it is likely that your recommendation is still in process and will arrive soon. If the 14 business day window will stretch past your course registration date, and you do not receive your results before your registration closes, then you will not be able to register for a language course until registration reopens just prior to the beginning of the quarter. 

If my placement recommendation indicates that I should register for a course that is at a higher level than my Core Second Language Requirement, do I still need to take the course to satisfy that Core requirement? Yes. The placement recommendation is a sophisticated estimate of your skills level, but you must pass the course to actually demonstrate that your skills are at a level that satisfies the Core Second Language Requirement. Note: in this situation, you would only need to take that one course to satisfy the Core requirement; the Core requirement is to demonstrate skills equivalent to or above Elementary level 2 or Elementary Level 3 in a language.

My placement recommendation lists several courses. What does this mean? If your placement recommendation lists more than one course, e.g. “Spanish 3, 21, 22”, this means that you can register for any of the courses listed. We encourage you to start in the highest course recommended to you to advance your skills more quickly. 

My placement recommendation says “SPAN 1, 1N”. What’s the difference between these courses? If this is your placement recommendation, you may register for either course. Spanish 1N is slower paced than Spanish 1, and it was designed specifically for students with no previous experience studying Spanish. Neither Spanish 1 nor Spanish 1N will satisfy the Core L2 requirement. Spanish 1N is currently offered in the Spring quarter. If you begin at Spanish 1N, you would likely take Spanish 1 the following Fall quarter, and then you could take Spanish 2 and or 3 afterward to satisfy your Core L2 requirement (if you haven’t already satisfied it with another language). 

My placement recommendation email said that I should take Elementary Spanish 1N, but I indicated on the survey that I want to take French. Please read through your placement recommendation email carefully. It discusses options for true beginners in each of our seven languages; Spanish just happens to be the first one mentioned. 

How long is my Placement Recommendation valid? Your placement recommendation is valid for three years. 

If you have carefully read all of the above FAQs and still have not found an answer to your question, you may contact our Placement Coordinator at You may experience significant delays in response time if your email contains questions that are answered in this document or elsewhere in the Placement Process Instructions.