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The Foreign Language Placement Exam

What is it?

Every Stony Brook student who is in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and the School of Journalism must demonstrate a certain level of foreign language proficiency in order to graduate (Skill 3 or LANG requirement). Students in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences are exempt from this requirement. To satisfy the LANG requirement, students must pass the second semester of an elementary foreign language course (e.g., 112) with a C or higher or enroll in a foreign language course of an intermediate level or higher and pass it with a C or better.

To make sure that students are placed into the appropriate level language course, they must take the Foreign Language Placement Exam. Specifically, the placement exam is designed to assess and match each student’s current foreign language ability with one of the numerous language courses available at SBU and accurately identify students who satisfy their Skill 3/LANG requirement. Unless you have fulfilled the language requirement via one of the exceptions listed below, you must take the placement exam at least one week before your orientation date so that you can register for the appropriate language course on the day of your orientation. 

What if I already fulfilled the language requirement?

If you meet any of the exceptions below, you are exempt from taking the placement exam, as you have already fulfilled your language requirement (you are still free to take a foreign language course or continue in a language by taking upper division courses, if you wish):

  • Got a 3 or better on the Foreign Language Placement Exam;
  • Received AP scores on a foreign language or literature exam with a score of 3 or higher;
  • Have transfer college credit equivalent to the second-semester introductory or higher level foreign language course from a regionally accredited institution, with a grade of C or higher;
  • Previously attended at least two years at a secondary school or university where the primary language of instruction is other than English (must submit official transcripts from the institution, showing evidence that one of the classes was the formal study of the other language);
  • Received a score of 530 or higher on the SAT II in a foreign language;
  • Received a score of 85 or higher on a New York State foreign language Regents examination taken in 2011 or earlier;
  • Received a score of 5 or higher on the Higher Level IB exam.

Test or Course

Score

Foreign Language Course

SAT II
Foreign Language

530+

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment 
(qualified for 211)

New York State Regents Exam (2011 or earlier)
Foreign Language

85+

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for 211)

AP
Foreign Language

3+

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for 211)

Secondary School where primary language of instruction
was other than English,
and one of the classes focused on
the formal study of that language
2+ Years

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment 
(qualified for 211)

Transfer
Foreign Language 112 equivalent

C or higher

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for 211)

IB Exam
Higher Level

5+

None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment 
(qualified for 211)

What if I am proficient in a language not offered at Stony Brook?

Stony Brook University offers placement exams in the following languages:

  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Students who are proficient in a language not offered at Stony Brook may satisfy the foreign language requirement through the Challenge Exam.

How can I schedule my Placement Exam?

You can do this by filling out an online Appointment Form. (Please sign up in the Spring 2018 term if you can.)

What should I bring to the Placement Exam?

  • You must bring your Stony Brook Student ID or a Government Issued Photo ID.
  • You must know your Stony Brook Student ID number.
  • You must have your NetID set up.

What does my Foreign Language Placement Exam result mean?

Score

Result

Foreign Language Course

None
Take two-semester elementary foreign language course sequence 
Enroll in a course / sequence numbered 101 or 111/112
1
Take two-semester elementary foreign language course sequence 
Enroll in a course / sequence numbered 101 or 111/112
2
Waives from first semester of elementary foreign language course sequence
Enroll in a course  numbered 112
3
Satisfies foreign language  requirement
None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for 201 or 211)
4
Satisfies foreign language  requirement
None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for 212 in all languages except Spanish*)
5
Satisfies foreign language  requirement
None required for Skill 3 or LANG fulfillment
 (qualified for upper division)
 
*Students who score a 4 on the foreign language placement exam in Spanish should speak directly to the Spanish department for placement into upper division courses.

For more questions or concerns, please visit the FAQ.

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