German Placement Exam

Overview of the German placement exam

Who should take the exam

The German placement exam is designed to determine language competence at the first- through fifth-semester levels of German as presently taught at St. Olaf College. All students with previous German experience should take the online placement exam, whether or not they intend to study German at St. Olaf. If you scored a 3, 4, or 5 on the German Advanced Placement exam in high school and had your score reported to the College, you do not need to take the St. Olaf German online placement exam. Rather, your course placement can be determined by your AP exam score. Students with no previous experience learning German who want to begin studying the language at St. Olaf should enroll in German 111 (Fall semester only).

Taking the exam

The multiple-choice section of the exam tests grammar knowledge, reading and listening comprehension, important for placement in first- and second-level classes. The essay section tests writing skills. Before the exam begins, there is a questionnaire asking for information about your German learning background.

The multiple-choice grammar, listening 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 when you come to the end of the section. There is no penalty for incorrect answers and you may go back and change your choice. Your score for that section will be the total number of correct answers. Once you have completed the multiple-choice section, the computer will ask you to proceed to the writing section of the exam. For a chance at placement into third-, fourth- or fifth-semester level classes, you should attempt to answer all portions of the writing section.

Timing the exam

You have 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 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.

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 be notified of your German course placement recommendation by a German Department faculty member shortly before you arrive on campus for Week One.

Please contact Professor Nora Vosburg at if you have questions about your placement or about the German program at St. Olaf College.

The German placement exam opens May 1. Incoming students should complete the exam before class registration.

Begin the German placement exam online at: