GERMAN PLACEMENT EXAM–Complete by August 1, 2016

Overview of the exam

The exam is designed to determine language competence at the first, second, third and fourth semester levels of German as presently taught at St. Olaf College. All students who intend to enroll in a German course are required to take the on-line placement exam. The Admissions Office will mail to all new students a packet of materials with specific instructions about the exam, which is divided into two sections. The multiple-choice section tests grammar knowledge and reading comprehension, important for placement in first and second level classes. The essay section tests writing skills necessary for third and fourth level German classes. The computer will evaluate the student’s work on the multiple-choice portion of the exam and the resulting score will determine if the student continues on to the writing section.

Taking the exam

The exam begins with a short questionnaire asking for background information. The multiple-choice grammar and reading section should be completed in its entirety. There is only one correct answer for each item. Answer as many questions as quickly as possible and return to more difficult questions after you have finished the section. There is no penalty for incorrect answers and you may go back and change your choice. Your score will be the total number of correct answers. If your score for the multiple-choice section of the exam is high enough, the computer will ask you to proceed to the writing section of the exam. For placement into third and fourth level classes, you should attempt to answer all portions of the writing section.

Timing the exam

There is a time limit of 90 minutes for the entire exam. Estimated time needed for the multiple-choice section is not more than 60 minutes and not more than 45 minutes for the three writing assignments. The more language experience you have had, the faster you will finish the multiple-choice questions. And the more language experience you have had, the more of the exam you will complete in order to reach your point of placement. Not all students will score highly enough to proceed to the writing section. Please wait for a computer evaluation of your work on the multiple-choice section of the exam for a decision as to whether or not you need to proceed to the writing portion of the exam.

Writing the paragraphs

For the best assessment of your writing level, please do not use any grammar notes or charts and please do not consult a dictionary. The exam is designed to judge your first response and to use any supporting materials would only distort the assessment of your placement. You may stop the exam at any point when you realize your German is no longer sufficient. After reading these instructions, please proceed directly to the questionnaire and to the exam. Please work carefully and if you finish early, take time to edit your answers.

You will find the German placement exam online at:

You may also contact Professor Wendy Allen at if you have questions about your placement or about the German program at St. Olaf College.