School of International and Public Affairs' Students

Spanish Language Placement Exams

There are two placement exams available for School of International and Public Affairs’ (SIPA) students for placement and registration in our courses and for possible exemption from SIPA’s requirement: the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam and the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam, both of which are described below.

About the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam

The Spanish as a Second Language Placement Examination is an online, multiple-choice format exam that you may take at your convenience. The exam consists of questions on vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension. There are no oral, listening, writing sections on the exam. Since it is an adaptive test, the length varies from one individual to another, with an average time of 25 minutes. If you score above 625 on the first version of the online exam, you will take another version of the online placement exam (a second time) in-person to verify your exemption from SIPA’s Intermediate Spanish II requirement as described below.

To take the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam, click on this link to register and create an account using your Columbia University email address. **If you have been exposed to Spanish to some (even to a very small) extent at home or in your community from an early age, please take this exam instead, the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam.

If you have any questions before taking any of the two exams, please feel free to schedule a 30-minute meeting with Professor Abraham from this webpage and select the option “School of International and Public Affairs’ Students".

Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam Scores

  • Below 280 – Spanish UN 1101 (Elementary Spanish I)
  • 280 – 379 – Spanish UN 1102 (Elementary Spanish II)
  • 330 or more – You may qualify for Spanish UN 1120 if you have never studied Spanish formally (please contact the spring 2024 instructor Dr. Diana Romero for more information).
  • 380 – 449 – Spanish UN 2101 (Intermediate Spanish I)
  • 450 – 625: The four courses that fulfill the fourth semester of Spanish for this scoring range are as follows:
  1. Spanish UN 2102: Intermediate Spanish II
  2. or Spanish UN 2103: Intermediate Spanish II: Health-related Topics in the Spanish-speaking World. Please click here for the course description and prerequisites. Please contact the spring 2024 instructor Dr. Juan Pablo Comínguez or Dr. Lee B. Abraham with your questions.
  3. or Spanish UN 2108: Spanish for Heritage Speakers. Please contact the spring 2024 instructor Jesús Suárez-García or Dr. Lee B. Abraham with your questions.
  4. or Spanish UN 2120: Spanish UN 2120 will not be offered in the Spring 2024 semester. Please contact Dr. Lee B. Abraham with your questions.
  • Above 625  – You qualify for an exemption. Your exemption in this case will be verified by taking another version of the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam, which will be given as follows:

For the fall 2023 semester, the second Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam will be given in-person during the New Student Orientation Programs (NSOP) for students in Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Please complete this form to register and to schedule the second exam for possible exemption using your Columbia University email address and authenticating with Columbia's Duo Multifactor authentication (MFA) preferably by Wednesday, August 23, 2023. 

For the spring 2024 semester: You may take the second version of the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam in the Department's main office located in Casa Hispánica’s (612 W. 116th Street (between Broadway and Riverside) from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.: Google Map). Please contact Kosmas Pissakos ([email protected]) to schedule the exam in the department at Casa Hispánica.

About the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam

If you have been exposed to Spanish to some (even to a very small) extent at home or in your community from an early age, or you possibly think of yourself as a heritage speaker/learner of Spanish at any level of proficiency you should take the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam.

The test consists of writing as well as multiple choice and fill-in the blank items about your exposure to the language, grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. There is a short listening/dictation section but there is no speaking section. The duration of the test varies from one student to another.  Please click here to take the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam, using your Columbia (or Barnard) email address.

Dr. Francisca Aguiló-Mora will email you the following: (1) your score and level, (2) the course to register for, or (3) if you qualify for a possible exemption. 

If you qualify for a possible exemption, you will schedule a second part of the placement test with Dr. Lee B. Abraham that consists of writing and speaking.

Please be advised that the purpose of this placement test is to help to determine the best course for you, even if it is the beginning level; it is not a competency test.