Programs / Language

Placement Examination


There is no placement examination for Catalan. Students with prior knowledge of Catalan (secondary school, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) should register in the most suitable level and consult Elsa Úbeda ( regarding placement.


The Placement Examination in Portuguese consists of two parts: one written and one oral.  The written part tests knowledge of grammar, reading comprehension, and writing composition.  The written exam is followed by an interview that tests oral comprehension.  It is offered in the fall and spring semesters during the first week of classes. Please make an appointment with José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos ( to take this exam.

Should you have any questions about your placement, please contact the Director of the Portuguese Language program José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos (


All students new to the Spanish Language Program at Columbia are required to take the Department’s Placement Examination before registering for a course, or provide proof of exemption.

You may take this online exam at home ONLY ONCE per academic year. Also, once you begin the exam, you should not pause until the test has finished. For scores above 625 see the exceptions from the language requirement.

Once you receive the results, you may register in the designated course during Orientation or during the Change of Program (Add/Drop) period. Please keep a copy of your score, as you will need to provide your instructor with this information on the first day of classes.

Under no circumstances may you register for a level lower or higher than the one to which you are assigned without the explicit permission of the Director of the Language Program.

The placement examination in Spanish is an online, multiple-choice format exam that you may take at your convenience, even before your arrival on campus (see link below). It consists of questions on vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension. There is no oral or listening part to the exam. Since it is an adaptive test, the length varies from one individual to another, with an average time of 20 minutes.

The online placement exam is for diagnostic purposes only and may be supplemented by your instructor’s evaluation during the first week of classes, at which time he or she may recommend a change in registration.

Should you have any questions about your placement, please contact:

  • Elementary I and II: Lee B. Abraham (
  • Intermediate I and II: Lee B. Abraham (
  • Spanish 3300: Francisco Rosales-Varo (

The exam must represent your own work. When taking it you will be bound by Columbia University’s Code of Academic Integrity, and must refrain from any activity constitutive of academic dishonesty as defined therein. If you are a Barnard student do not proceed any further; please visit the Barnard website.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about placement, registration (attendance policy, waiting lists), and the Change of Program period are available here.

To take the Columbia placement exam

Placement Exam Scores

  • Below 280 – Spanish UN 1101 (Elementary Spanish I)
  • 280 – 379 – Spanish UN 1102 (Elementary Spanish II)
  • 330 – 379 - You may qualify for Spanish UN 1120 (Comprehensive Beginning Spanish. Please see the course description on the Directory of Classes for additional prerequisites for UN 1120.
  • 380 – 449 – Spanish UN 2101 (Intermediate Spanish I)
  • 450 – 625 - Spanish UN 2102 (Intermediate Spanish II) or Spanish UN 2108 (Spanish for Heritage Speakers)
  • 480 – 625 - You may qualify for Spanish UN 2120 (Comprehensive Intermediate Spanish). Please see the course description on the Directory of Classes for additional prerequisites for UN 2120 or Spanish UN 2108 (Spanish for Heritage Speakers)
  • Above 625  - You qualify for an exemption. Your exemption in this case will be verified by taking another version of the Placement Exam in person. For the fall semester:  Please register here. For the spring semester: You may retake the placement exam at Casa Hispánica’s Main Office (612 W. 116th Street; from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. or from 1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m.). Please contact Kosmas Pissakos ( for any questions regarding the administration of the exam at Casa Hispánica.

Last Updated 6 years ago