Placement Exams

Placement testing information has been recently updated for spring 2021, click on each exam for details. Please continue to monitor your NIU email account for updated information.

Placement exams are required of select new students and must be taken prior to registration for first semester courses. These exams provide information to help students select courses that correspond to their levels of achievement. Normally, a placement exam may be taken only once.

Please review each placement exam offered. Once you have determine what you need to take, you may register online to test.

Testing Accommodations

If you have a documented disability and need testing accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 815-753-1303 or by email at to make an appointment several weeks before your test date to determine your eligibility for services.

If testing accommodations are appropriate, you may take your test at the Disability Resource Center. You must be registered with the DRC before your test date. Make an appointment with the DRC several weeks before you plan to take your placement exams.

Update for spring 2021:

Freshmen: Once you confirm your admission to NIU, you will be given an initial math placement level based on your SAT math scores and high school GPA. Your placement results will be emailed from to your NIU email address.

Transfer students who have completed the mathematics requirement for their NIU program of study need not take this exam. If you do not have college-level math transferring into NIU and your major is listed below, you would need to register for the Accuplacer Math Exam.

  • You should register for the Accuplacer Math Exam ($25 fee) if you:
    • Did not submit a high school GPA.
    • Wish to challenge your math placement result.

Students are required to take this exam if they plan to enroll in any of the following courses:

  • MATH 110 - College Algebra
  • MATH 155 - Trigonometry and Elementary Functions
  • MATH 206 - Introductory Discrete Mathematics
  • MATH 210 - Finite Mathematics
  • MATH 211 - Calculus for Business and Social Science
  • MATH 229 - Calculus I

The Math Accuplacer exam will focus on a range of topics, including a variety of equations and functions, including linear, quadratic, rational, radical, polynomial and exponential. Questions will also delve into some geometry and trigonometry concepts. In addition, questions may assess your math ability via computational or fluency skills, conceptual understanding, or the capacity to apply mathematics presented in a context. All questions are multiple-choice in format.

Calculators may not be used for this exam.

The following areas of study have programs that require at least one of these courses. This exam is also required for students in any program in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, any program leading to a B.S. degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and for any students who are undecided majors.

  • Accountancy
  • Actuarial Science
  • Anthropology (B.S. majors only)
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Business Administration
  • Chemistry
  • Child Development
  • Communication (B.S. majors only)
  • Communicative Disorders
  • Computer Science
  • Early Childhood Studies
  • Economics (B.S. majors only)
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Elementary Education
  • Engineering Technology
  • English (B.S. majors only)
  • Environmental Studies
  • Family and Individual Development
  • Family Social Services
  • Fashion Merchandising
  • Finance
  • Geography
  • Geology and Environmental Geosciences
  • Health Sciences
  • History (B.S. majors only)
  • Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Journalism (B.S. majors only)
  • Kinesiology
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering
  • Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Meteorology
  • Middle Level Teaching and Learning
  • Nonprofit and NGO Studies (B.S. majors only)
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition, Dietetics and Wellness
  • Operations and Information Management
  • Philosophy (B.S. majors only)
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Political Science (B.S. majors only)
  • Pre-Dentistry
  • Pre-Medicine
  • Pre-Optometry
  • Pre-Pharmacy
  • Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine
  • Psychology (B.S. majors only)
  • Public Health
  • Rehabilitation and Disability Services
  • Sociology (B.S. majors only)
  • Special Education
  • Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology
  • Sport Management
  • Statistics
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (B.S. major only)

High School Transitional Math 4 (TM001) – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Pathway is for students with career goals involving occupations that require the application of calculus or advanced algebraic skills. In accordance with and subject to the PWR Act, successful completion of High School Transitional Math 4 (TM001) with a final grade equivalent to "C" or better guarantees student placement into College Algebra (MATH 110) at NIU

If you need help interpreting your score, view the math score interpretation sheet:

Update for spring 2021: If your major requires the Chemistry Placement Exam, you may now register to take this exam in the comfort of your home. Please use the registration button below to request a link to the test.

You are required to take the Chemistry Placement Exam if you plan to enroll in CHEM 210, General Chemistry I, and CHEM 212, General Chemistry Laboratory I. (If you are planning to enroll in CHEM 110, Chemistry, need not take this exam.)

This exam may be taken only once.

Areas of study requiring CHEM 210 and CHEM 212 include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Studies (B.S. major only)
  • Geology and Environmental Geosciences
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Physics
  • Pre Dentistry
  • Pre-Medicine
  • Pre-Optometry
  • Pre-Pharmacy
  • Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine

The Chemistry Placement Exam is divided into three equal parts: general mathematics, general chemical knowledge and specific chemical knowledge. Nonprogrammable calculators may be used for this exam.

If you need help interpreting your score, view the Chemistry Score Interpretation Sheet (PDF).

Students are required to take a placement exam in Spanish if they have had previous experience with the language and plan to continue their study of this language at the college level, or if they anticipate receiving CLEP subject exam credit.

Please note: You must register for the online “Spanish Placement Test” (use red Register button below). The exam is completed online at a student’s convenience, but it will take some time (up to ten days) to receive your unique testing link in your NIU student email account. Timely completion of the exam is in your best interest. Note that you must use your official NIU email address to register for this exam. Please note that students interested in placement for languages other than Spanish must contact the department at 815-753-1501 or for assistance.

Students who anticipate receiving transfer credit for college-level study of a language need not take a placement exam and are to register for the course that follows the highest level course for which transfer credit has been granted.

Freshmen who plan to study a foreign language other than Spanish should contact the appropriate coordinator in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

If you need help interpreting your score, view the Foreign Language Score Interpretation Sheet (PDF).

Update for fall 2021: This exam is optional, not required. This exam is typically offered during the spring semester and throughout the summer testing months (March through August). Online registration for this exam will be available during the testing months. Once registered, you may take this exam in the comfort of your home. 

  • CHANCE participants will be placed into ENGL 103P
  • High school GPA of 2.50 to 2.99 will be placed into ENGL 103P
  • High school GPA of 3.0 and higher will be placed into ENGL 103.

Both ENGL 103P and ENGL 103 are college-level English courses, and both fulfill the first half of the foundational writing requirement. Regardless of your initial placement, all students are eligible to take this writing composition exam. If you excelled in writing in high school, we encourage you to test. However, taking the test means agreeing to be placed in the class deemed appropriate by a team of English faculty readers, which may mean that your initial placement will not change.

Part one consists of a one-hour writing exercise resulting in one of the following four options:

Register for Placement Testing online.