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Course Placement & Testing

Virginia Commonwealth University uses a variety of guidelines to determine your entry-level math, chemistry and foreign language courses according to your abilities and background. Your academic advisor will discuss your placement during your advising session at orientation. If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact Dr. Seth Sykes, Assistant Dean of University College, at

On this page:

Mathematics Placement Test

This test matches your abilities with the level of content in the courses at VCU to help you determine which math course to select for the upcoming semester.

Do I have to take the Math Placement test?

In order to register for math classes during Orientation, you must have either a Math Placement Test score on file or your credits received from AP/IB/Dual Enrollment courses must be posted.  We strongly urge you to complete the Online Math Placement Test before your Orientation session. Even though you may have AP, IB, or dual-enrollment credits pending that will supercede your placement score, we strongly urge you to take the test so that you can register in case those credits are not processed before you arrive at Orientation. If you don’t have a test score or official credit recorded on your VCU transcript, you will not be able to register for a math course while at Orientation. So please either take the test or make sure your grades and scores are submitted to VCU before you come to Orientation.

Is assistance with the online Math Placement Test permitted?

No. Do not obtain any assistance while taking the placement test. This includes consulting with a teacher, parent or friend regarding content of the test. It would be to your disadvantage if you were to receive a score higher than your actual abilities. An artificially high score would place you in a course in which you would have a limited probability of success.

What if I have technical problems while taking the test?

There is a sample test for you to explore before you take the actual test. If you have technical trouble with the sample test, do not take the actual test until you have resolved your problem. You may take the Online Placement Test only once. The test may not be re-taken for any reason. If you start the test and are unable to complete it, you may fulfill the requirement by taking the Compass Placement Test on campus. Information about the Compass Test is available at the Online Placement Test site.

If you have computer-related problems with the online test web site, please email The technical helpline will be staffed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The test web site technician cannot provide academic advising or help with the content of the test.

How do I take the test?

The test is administrated online. Your test will be automatically scored when you complete it, and you will be shown your score and class placement.

Click here to take the Math Placement Test

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Chemistry Placement

Chemistry placement at VCU is generally determined by a student’s SAT score, high school GPA and math placement score. Students should place into Math 151 (pre-calculus) in order to register for Chemistry 101. If a student places below Math 151, students are encouraged to take a chemistry assessment using a program called ALEKS. If a student achieves 80% or above on their assessment they are eligible to take Chemistry 101.

The cost for the chemistry assessment is $30. Please note: If a student has never taken Chemistry, ALEKS does provide an introductory course at the cost of $65. This course does not give a student credit, however, it does prepare them to take Chemistry 101.

Please click HERE for additional details on how to sign up for either the ALEKS assessment or the ALEKS course.

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Foreign Language Placement

Some majors include a foreign language requirement. Be sure to write down the foreign language courses along with grades that you completed in high school or at another college and bring them with you to orientation.  Your foreign language placement is determined by high school coursework, the strength of your high school foreign language program and your motivation level.  If you want an exemption from a foreign language requirement, you must take the optional placement test. You are encouraged to challenge yourself and take a more advanced class than what is suggested by the guidelines if you feel you are prepared and motivated to do so.

For more information, visit

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AP, IB or Dual-Enrollment Credit:

If you took AP or IB classes and you attend orientation before your scores are available, your advisor will ask you for your best estimate of how you believe you scored on the test. If your educated guess is inaccurate, adjustments to your classes will be made as scores become available. Generally, VCU requires scores of 3 or higher to be awarded AP credit. Scores range from 4 to 6 to receive IB credit. You may also have taken classes through the dual enrollment program. VCU may or may not have the final transcripts from the community college by the time you attend New Student Orientation. Therefore, you will want to inform your academic advisor about the dual enrollment classes you completed and the grades you earned in those classes.

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If you are unhappy with your class placement

Please inform your advisor during orientation if you wish to challenge your initial placement in a course.

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  • You must take the online math placement test before orientation.
  • Write down your final grade in high school chemistry and bring this with you to orientation.
  • Write down all of the final grades in foreign language courses you completed and bring them with you to orientation.
  • Write down all of the AP and IB tests that you took and give your best estimate on how you scored on each test. Bring this with you to orientation.
  • Write down dual enrollment courses you completed and bring them with you to orientation.

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