Determining Level of Achievement

Placement in a language is determined by level of achievement in the language, not by years of study. Level of achievement can be measured by results of the SATII, or AP scores of 4 or 5. Students who want to continue studying a language but who do not have an SATII score or an AP score of 4 or 5 will have to take a placement test at Cornell.

Even if you don’t intend to continue your study of the language right away, if you would have to take a language placement test to enroll in a class, you should take the test as soon as possible. Once you know your score, register as early as possible for the right level to avoid being closed out. For regularly scheduled tests (not online), if you miss the first round of placement tests, get wait-listed at the level you think will be appropriate and attend class, pending the make-up test results. You should take language classes early on in your Cornell career, in case you want to study abroad, or in case you need the language for graduate research.

Visit the testing page for the placement test schedule and further information and please direct any questions to Undergraduate Coordinator, Cal Hile.

College of Arts & Sciences Language Requirements

  • Option 1: Passing a 2000 level (or above) course in a foreign language at Cornell or
  • Option 2: Passing at least eleven credits of study in a single foreign language at Cornell (usually an introductory sequence)

For All Students:

  • Exempt: native speakers or equivalent
  • Definition of “native speaker” for purposes of language placement: one who has completed secondary education in an institution whose primary language of instruction was not English, but the target language. Native speakers fitting this description are exempt from the language requirement. To be granted exemption officially, if you fit this definition of native speaker in French or Italian, take the CASE exam. For Spanish, use the NLAS.
  • NLAS (Native Language Accreditation in Spanish): This is a walk-in service offered for native speakers of Spanish (as defined above) during posted office hours in the Spanish language faculty offices during the first three weeks of each semester.

Placement Tables

French

Placement Tests
LPF SATII** French Language Courses
below 37 below 410 1210
37-44 410-480 1220
45-55 490-590 1230
56-64 600-680 2060, 2090
65 and above* 690 and above CASE required* for placement
AP4 in language, 3 credits AP4 in language, 3 credits 2090 or equivalent
AP5 in language, 3 credits AP5 in language, 3 credits CASE required for placement
AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency CASE required for placement
CASE
Score Language Courses Literature Courses
Q 2060, 2090
Q+ 2095 2310
Q++ Variable, listed with posted score Follow prerequisites for literature courses in catalog
Exempt

Italian

Placement Tests
LPI SATII** italian Language Courses
below 37 below 370 1201
37-48 370-450 1202
49-64 460-680 2201
65 and above 690 and above CASE required for placement
AP4 or 5 in language, 3 credits AP4 or 5 in language, 3 credits CASE required for placement
AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency CASE required for placement
CASE
Score Language Courses Literature Courses
Q 2201 Follow prerequisites for literature courses in catalog
Q+ 2202 Follow prerequisites for literature courses in catalog
Q++ Variable, posted with posted score Follow prerequisites for literature courses in catalog
Exempt

 Spanish

Placement Tests
LPS SATII** spanish Language Courses
below 37 below 370 1210
37-44 370-450 1120, 1220
45-55 460-580 1230
56-64 590-680 2000, 2070, 2090
65 and above* 690 and above CASE required* for placement
AP4 in language, 3 credits AP4 in language, 3 credits 2090 or equivalent
AP5 in language, 3 credits AP5 in language, 3 credits CASE required for placement
AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency AP4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits and proficiency CASE required for placement
CASE
Score Language Courses Literature Courses
Q 2000, 2070, 2090
Q+ 2095 2140, 2150, 2170
Q++ Variable, listed with posted score Follow prerequisites for literature courses in catalog
Exempt

* Students who get a 65 or higher on the LP test at the end of 1220 are not eligible to take the CASE exam; instead, they should enroll directly into 2070/2090 (or the equivalent).

** Note that after two years, high school placement scores are no longer reliable, and you will be required to take an LP test for accurate placement. This applies to SATII and AP scores. Students with LP and CASE scores from 2 or more years back should check with the course coordinator of the course they want to take to see if they need reassessment.

About Placement Tests

All students wishing to take courses or be granted credit in French, Italian, or Spanish must register in COLLT (Cornell On-Line Language Tests) at  and fill out the information on their background for each language for which they will be requiring either placement or accreditation. This is required also of native speakers seeking accreditation.

Placement and advanced standing tests are offered at the beginning of each semester. Two sets of tests are offered: the placement test (LPF, LPI, LPS), and the CASE (Cornell Advanced Standing Examination); some students need the score on the placement test to qualify for the CASE. See tables above for more specific information.

*N.B. The LPF, LPI and LPS are offered online at semester start-up, and students can take them at their convenience. The CASE is not offered online, but students are required to have filled out on COLLT the survey on their background in the specific language for which they need the CASE, prior to taking the test.

LP Tests — Language Placement Tests

(in French = LPF, in Italian = LPI, in Spanish = LPS)

These tests are designed to place you in the level that is most suited for your needs. The placement test is only required for those who do not have a score from the SATII or AP4 or higher. To determine whether you need to take the LP test, register in COLLT.

 Eligibility for the LP test:

  • Registration in COLLT
  • If you have studied the language for a minimum of 2 years (if you have studied less than 2 years, sign up for 1210)
  • If you want to update an old achievement score
  • If you have an AP score of 3
  • If you are not a native speaker

Case Exam (Cornell Advanced Standing Exam)

This exam is designed for students who have acquired the language outside of Cornell and need to determine placement into our courses. Students may earn up to 3 credits with the CASE.

 Eligibility for the CASE:

  • Registration in COLLT
  • If you have a score of 65 or higher on the LP test, or 690 or higher on the SAT II, or AP4 or 5
  • If you have acquired the language outside of Cornell (students who have studied the language at Cornell are not eligible for the CASE)

General Testing Information

SIGN-UP

Register for all tests at COLLT.

The information herein refers to placement and accreditation in French, Italian, and Spanish. For Portuguese, please contact the faculty listed under “Contacts”.

Contacts for Language Placement:

French:
Language (LPF): Thierry Toréa, Klarman K149
Advanced Language Placement (CASE): Thierry Toréa, Klarman K149
Italian:
Language: K.E. von Wittelsbach, Klarman K127, 4-6752
Portuguese:
Language: Jura Oliveira; Klarman K126
Spanish:
Language: Mary K. Redmond; Klarman K168; 4-6502
Questions about Online Tests:
Cal Hile, Klarman K165; 5-8222

Placement FAQs

Q1. Is there a language requirement at Cornell?

Answer 1: Yes, there is. Following is a quote excerpted from the College description of the requirement. For the full description, and more information, see the introduction in Courses of Study to the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The faculty considers competence in a foreign language essential for an educated person. Studying a language other than one’s own helps students understand the problematics of language, our fundamental intellectual tool, and enables students to understand another culture. The sooner a student acquires competence, the sooner it will be useful. Hence, work toward the foreign language requirement should be undertaken in the first two years.

Option 1: Passing (a) a nonintroductory foreign language course at Cornell at the 2000 level or above or (b) any other nonintroductory course conducted in a foreign language at Cornell.

or

Option 2: Passing at least eleven credits of study in a single foreign language at Cornell. Students undertaking intensive introductory language study elsewhere should consult the relevant department about applying that study toward Option 2. In most cases this will require satisfactory performance on an examination.”

 Q2. How do I know which language class to take?

Answer 2: If you have studied the language for less than 2 years, you can enroll in the elementary level (1210). If you have 2 or more years of study of the language, placement is determined by a score on a placement test. See the relevant Placement Table for the language you are interested in. Also check prerequisites for individual courses.

 Q3. When is the next placement test?

Answer 3: The placement test in French, Italian and Spanish is available online anytime you want to take the test.

Q4. Do I have to take a language class before I take a literature class?

Answer 4: This will depend on your competency in the language. If you can demonstrate by a high score on the advanced placement exam at Cornell (CASE) that you have the necessary language level to enter a literature course, you would not need to take a language class first. Check the prerequisites for each course to see what is required as score.

Q5. Can I take a 4000 level course?

Answer 5: This depends on your eligibility. If you have met the prerequisites for the course, you can. If you have not, you will have to fulfill the prerequisites first. Check the prerequisites for each course to see what is required for eligibility.

Q6. Do I have to take the placement test if I want to enroll in a language class?

Answer 6: Yes, unless you already have an SAT II score, or an LP score, or an AP4 or 5. The LP score gives us an indication of your level and allows us to place you in the class that will be most suited to your needs.

Q7. I took 1220 and got a low score on the placement test that was given as final exam. Can I take the LP test again?

Answer 7: Yes, you can take it again at the beginning of the semester. If you need to retake the test before 3 months have elapsed since the first time you took it, you will need to request from the language faculty an appointment for a proctored test.

Q8. I just took the LP and got a score I did not like. Can I take the make-up?

Answer 8: No. The LP may be retaken once, but not within the same testing period. A three month interval is required prior to being allowed to retake the LP test, and it can only be retaken twice in all.

Q9. I missed the first CASE, and the make-up is scheduled for after the beginning of classes. What should I do while I wait for the make-up?

Answer 9: While you wait for the make-up, take a guess at what might be your level (it would be 2090 or higher, in principle, and could be a language class or a literature class), and start attending classes. Go ahead and add online if possible, and be sure not to miss any classes. Later you can change to another level if your score requires it.

Q10. I studied the language for two years (or more), but feel that it would be better to start over because I didn’t learn much. Can I just enroll in 1210 and not take the placement test?

Answer 10: The placement test is necessary to provide a clear sense of your level. With the score, we can place you in the class that is best for you. 1210 might in fact be your level, but we need your placement test score to determine that. If you start the course into which you have placed and you feel you are not at the right level, speak with the course coordinator.

Q11. My advisor recommended that I start from scratch, although I already have 2 (or more) years of the language. Can I do this?

Answer 11: Not unless your placement score indicates that that is your level. Our test is designed to place you accurately at the level in which your performance will be the highest possible.

Q12. My SAT II places me differently than my LP score: which should I use?

Answer 12: Use your most recent score.

 Q13. I have a score that indicates that the CASE is “recommended” for me. Do I have to take the CASE exam?

Answer 13: If you have taken language classes at Cornell, the CASE exam is not for you. Otherwise, do take the exam, because it provides a better sense of the level you should enroll in.

Q14. What is the placement test like? Can I prepare for it?

Answer 14: The LP is a multiple-choice standardized test, with 90-100 questions. The best way to prepare for it is to refresh your memory by reading, and get some rest before the test so you are alert.

Q15. What is the difference between the LP and the CASE?

Answer 15: The CASE exam is not a multiple-choice test: it tests reading, listening, writing and for some languages and levels, speaking. See above for the LP.

Q16. I speak the language at home, and consider myself a native. Can I take the CASE to get credit?

Answer 16: For purposes of language placement, we define “Native Speaker” as one who has completed secondary education in an institution whose primary language of instruction was not English, but the target language. Native speakers fitting this description are exempt from the language requirement. To be granted exemption officially, native speakers of French or Italian take the CASE exam. For Spanish, use the NLAS (Native Language Accreditation in Spanish), a walk-in service for native speakers during posted office hours in the Spanish language faculty offices during the first three weeks of each semester.

Q17. I speak the language at home, and consider myself a bilingual. Do I have to take the placement test?

Answer 17: You are required to present a placement or achievement score before taking a language class here. If you already have an achievement score or an AP score of 4 or higher, you do not need to take our placement test. There are many different levels among bilinguals, and the placement score helps determine which course might be best for you. Spanish 2000 is designed for those who get 56 to 64 on the LPS. If you get a higher score than that, take the CASE exam to see if your level is higher, and you might receive credit through the test.

Q18. I consider myself a beginner in the language. I have only had 2 years of the language, and they were not very good. Can I just register for 1210?

Answer 18: If you have 2 years of the language, we require that you take the LP. It is possible that 1220 might be better for you than 1210.

Q19. I was given qualification by the administration because I took 3 years of language in high school. Can I take 2090 without taking the placement test?

Answer 19: No, not unless you have the appropriate SAT II score. If you have no achievement score, you must take the LP.

Q20. I have an AP3. Do I have to take the placement test or can I just register in a class?

Answer 20: You must take the LP for placement .

Q21. I have AP4 in literature. What course can I take?

Answer 21: Take the CASE exam to determine placement.

If you have questions about transfer credit, please refer to our transfer credit page.