Placement Exams

Want more information about the placement exams?

Math Placement Exam

All students at Saint Mary’s College of California are required to take an appropriate mathematics or computer science class as part of their liberal arts experience. In order for you to be successful in your mathematics and science classes you need to be in a college-level mathematics class for which you are prepared.

All incoming first-year students are required to take a mathematics placement exam before tehy can be placed into classes. This assists us in advising you and allows us to help you be successful in your mathematics studies. Using the results of your exam as well as your high school background and your SAT mathematics score, we will determine your mathematics placement depending on your plans for study.

If you have concerns about your placement or questions about the exam, please contact Professor Jim Sauerburg, Director of Math Placement, at

Get more information on the math placement exam >

English Composition Placement

The Composition Program uses Directed Self-Placement (DSP) for placing students in their first-year writing classes. The DSP process guides students in choosing a writing course that best matches the academic writing for which they are ready. In the DSP process, students assume agency in the decision of which writing course path to take: English 1 and 2 course sequence, or English 4 and 5 course sequence. International and exchange students will also be directed to place themselves in a supplemental .25 writing course (SMS 23 and SMS 24).

Students seeking accommodations under the American Disabilities Act should contact Student Disability Services (, 925-631-4358) to make appropriate arrangements for testing. 
Completion of both English 4 and 5 is required for graduation and is typically completed during the first year of college. For some students, completion of English 3 will be a prerequisite for English 4. 

If you have concerns about your placement or questions about the Online Writing Placement Exam, please contact Professor Lisa Manter, Director of Composition, at

Foreign Language

The study of a second language is an essential component of the Core Curriculum goals of Saint Mary’s College, and all undergraduates must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. There are various means for you to demonstrate proficiency; please refer to the webpage of World Languages and Cultures for more information.

If you did not complete three years of the same language (modern or classical) in secondary school with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, you have not met the requirement. Just as a reminder, that the 3 years of High School language must be grades 9-12 and must result in a 3.0 GPA in order to satisfy the proficiency.  If you want to continue the same language, we encourage you to take the online Foreign Language Placement Diagnostic Exam prior to entrance.  The results of the online Foreign Language Placement Diagnostic Exam are used solely for placement purposes; scores are not recorded on transcripts or academic records.  Taking the exam in the language you want to study allows us to place you much more accurately.  The exam is web-based, can be taken at any time on your personal computer or in the library computer lab.  The exam takes about 40 minutes to an hour to complete and is accessed via a unique user name and password that will be provided to each student in an email.

We offer the exam in the following languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Please send an email indicating the language exam you wish to take to:   Additional information about the exam, including a user name and password, will be provided at this time.

Additionally, if you have:

1) Recently received your AP language or literature exam scores,

2) Received your final grade in your most recent language class, or

3) Lived immersed in a language other than English, whether at home or abroad, please share this information with Dr. María Luisa Ruiz, Placement and Proficiency Coordinator at:

This additional information will help us to place you in the language course that best serves your needs.

Please remember: You may only take the placement exam once during each academic year. Your results are valid for one academic year. We strongly encourage that all students complete the language requirement by the end of their sophomore year. Make sure you take into account the language requirement as you plan a course of study so that you graduate on time.

If you have additional questions, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the World Languages and Cultures website.