Continue in a language with prior experience

Placement Exams FAQs

Placement exams are offered in all languages taught at SMU

 No. SMU fees and tuition cover the fee for all placement exam testing. No further payment is required. 

Incoming students who are considering enrolling in a language course and who have had instruction in high school or elsewhere prior to enrolling at SMU in that language should take the placement exam prior to attending AARO. Advisors cannot register a student for ANY language class if s/he needs to have taken placement exam but has not. The following students are exempted from the placement exam for the purposes of the Second Language Requirement under the University Curriculum (UC):

  • Students who attended an international high school where English was not the primary language of instruction
  • Students who scored a 4 or 5 on a language Advanced Placement exam*
  • Students who scored a 5, 6, or 7 on a HL International Baccalaureate exam*
  • Transfer students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the WLL Advisor

    *Please note that students who have taken AP or IB exams but have not yet received their results by the time they come to AARO, and who wish to continue their language study their first semester on campus, will need to take a placement exam in order to be accurately placed in a language course.

    A placement exam may be taken online at any time, from any location via computer with Internet access.

    Matriculating students should have received invitations to the Canvas course in their SMU email. The sender should appear as "SMU Canvas." Within the email you may accept the invitation to be added to the course.

    Log onto with your SMU ID and password.

    You will access the exams via your Dashboard within Canvas.

    If you cannot log onto Canvas or are unable to see either the invitation for the orientation course within Canvas, please call the SMU's OIT help desk at 214-768-HELP or send an email to from your SMU email address. Be sure to include your SMU ID number.

    A placement exam may be taken only once in each language.

    Exam results are monitored on a regular basis and duplicate or questionable testing scores will result in a hold on WLL class registration and a mandatory meeting with the chair of the department who will determine placement.

    SMU professors review all exam results and students may be contacted for oral language testing to confirm testing results.

    At the conclusion of testing, be sure to save your score results by printing them or taking a screenshot and saving it. In addition to showing a copy of your results electronically or via paper to your advisor, you are also required to bring a paper copy of them to the first day of your language class.

    NOTE: All students testing in Arabic and Japanese as well as native/heritage speakers testing in Chinese will need to set up appointments to have oral skills evaluated at the conclusion of the written portion of the exam. For Arabic, contact Professor Elverskog. For Chinese, contact Professor Xia. For Japanese, contact Professor Flores.

    By taking a placement exam students have the opportunity to receive retroactive credit for beginning and intermediate courses in their language of study. For more information, see our Retroactive Credit Policy.
    Although some students review for the exam, it is to a student’s advantage to have the exam reflect his/her current knowledge of the language. Results are valid for 12 months from the date the placement exam is taken.
    There is no time limit on the exam, but it generally takes less than one hour.

    General questions or concerns about placement or the second language requirement should be sent to the WLL Advisor via email:

    Please contact Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies at 214-768-1470 if you have any questions regarding services for students with disabilities. Please note that there is no time limit to the exam.