What is the MSU Foreign Language (FL) Placement Test?

The foreign language placement test helps students register for the appropriate level course for a foreign language.

The unproctored placement test does NOT exempt a student from any language requirements. The College of Arts and Letters and the James Madison College have language exit requirements that must be fulfilled separately from the placement test. The placement test merely informs students where they should begin their language study at Michigan State University. Placing beyond the intro (101) level does NOT grant credit for any levels that the student places beyond. The placement test does NOT grant any university credits.

Placing out of 200-level language in a proctored environment (during New Student Orientation (NSO) or in the MSU Testing Office) can satisfy the language requirement for the College of Arts and Letters and the James Madison College, but again, no college credits are earned by taking the test.

Who needs to take the FL Placement Test?

A student who took a foreign language prior to entering Michigan State University, and who is continuing study in that language (and is not bringing in AP, IB Higher Level (HL) or transferable credit), must take the placement test. Students that have taken or are taking the AP or IB HL exam do not have to take the FL placement test.

Do students in the Arts (i.e., art, music, and theater) have a foreign language requirement?

  • The Department of Art, Art History, and Design offers two types of undergraduate degrees, the Bachelor of Arts, for which there is a two year language requirement, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts, for which students need to submit a portfolio to be admitted. The Bachelor of Fine Arts does not have a language requirement.
  • The College of Music offers two types of Bachelors degrees, a Bachelor of Music, for which there is no language requirement and a Bachelor of Arts in Music, for which there is a two year language requirement. The Bachelor of Music in Performance for Voice students requires ITL 101, FRN 101, and GRM 101.
  • The Department of Theatre offers two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Students must complete a two-year competency requirement for the Bachelor of Arts. Since students have to either audition or submit a portfolio to be admitted into the BFA programs, contact your advisor about the language requirement. 

What is the foreign language requirement in RCAH?

The current language-related graduation requirements in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) are:

  • 6 credits of RCAH 390; and
  • One of the following two options:
    • A. Pass the RCAH speaking test or proficiency test offered through CeLTA; or
    • B. Complete the equivalent coursework through the 202-level and at least one 300-level course, all in one of the approved languages. A study abroad/away experience can substitute for one or more of the courses required in Option B with approval of the RCAH Director of Student Affairs and the RCAH Director of the Language Proficiency Program, in consultation with the leader of the student’s study abroad/away program.

What majors in the College of Natural Science require a foreign language?

  • Mathematics (MTH) – First year competency (BS in Mathematics or Computational Mathematics) and Secondary year competency (BA in Mathematics or Computational Mathematics)

How do I take the test?

Please select the language below and it will redirect you to the appropriate test.

You will need to enter the following information to get started:

  1. Your name
  2. Your PID from the front of your ID card
  3. Your MSU email address

If you need to take a proctored test, contact the MSU Testing Office at 517-355-8385, 

For placements in languages other than Chinese, French, German, and Spanish, please contact the appropriate department. You can find contact information under Partners

When should I take the test?

The placement test makes an enrollment recommendation for the upcoming semester. If you take the test and will not enroll into the recommended course immediately (e.g., taking a semester off from foreign languages), then you should take the test again before enrolling for that semester. If you have any questions, contact your advisor.

Can the test be repeated?

The test may be repeated. However, you are encouraged to not take the test more than once in a 6-week period. This applies whether you are taking the proctored or unproctored version. (i.e., if you take the test at home and then wish to take a proctored version, you are encouraged to wait 6 weeks).

How long will it take to complete the test?

There are 39 multiple-choice questions each on the French, German, and Spanish placement tests, covering vocabulary, grammar, listening, and reading. Taking the test should require anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour, depending on how fast you work.

The Chinese placement test has 32 multiple-choice listening and reading questions. You will also be prompted to respond in writing (in Chinese) to two questions, and you will be asked to record your voice (in Chinese) in response to a speaking task. The test should take no more than two hours to complete.

What if…

  • If you have technical (computer-related) problems, you can contact the IT Services Help Desk toll free: 844-678-6200 (North America and Hawaii) and local: 517-432-6200.
  • For questions related to the test (administration and content) itself, send an email to fltests@msu.edu.
  • For questions about the language requirement of your program, please contact your advisor.
  • If you feel that your test score does not accurately reflect your language ability, see your advisor or discuss your score with the appropriate advisor in the language department.