Placement Exams and Class Registration

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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 by June 1. 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 Michael Nathanson, Director of Math Placement, at

Get more information on the math placement exam >

English Composition Placement

The Composition Program uses SAT, AP Language and Literature, and IB scores to place incoming students in English composition courses (ACT scores are not used for placement purposes). For those students who do not have SAT, AP, or IB scores, the Composition Program offers the Online Writing Placement Exam. The results of the Online Writing Placement Exam are used solely for placement purposes; scores are not recorded on transcripts or academic records.

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 Hilda Ma, Director of Composition, at

Foreign Language

In recognition of the importance of foreign language study, the College requires that all graduates demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Students who did not successfully complete three years of the same language during high school with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher are required to take the Foreign Language Placement Exam. For Spanish and French language placement exams, students should take the exam online prior to attending orientation. For other languages offered at SMC, including Italian, Japanese, Latin and Greek, an exam will be conducted with a professor during the first week of classes in order to determine the appropriate course in which to enroll. Make sure to print out a copy of your test results for yourself and bring it with you to the orientation session.  Reminder: 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.

New Courses

We now offer Mandarin 1 and Mandarin 2. For more information, contact the Department of Modern Languages