Foreign Language Placement Guidelines

UC Merced Language Placement Exams

The language placement exam is a tool to help students determine the appropriate level at which to enroll in a foreign language course. They are not intended for Heritage speakers of the language or to satisfy academic requirements. Currently, exams are available for French and Spanish; students wishing to enroll in Chinese or Japanese courses above level 1 should contact the foreign language faculty teaching the course.

Placement exams can only be taken once. It must be taken before enrolling for the first time in one course of the foreign language the student wishes to study at UC Merced.  The UC Merced Language Placement exam is not designed for Spanish Heritage speakers.

Students who wish to use language placement exams to fulfill requirements in SSHA (such as GE or major) must seek approval from SSHA.

Non-Heritage Speakers Who Have Not Taken College-Level Language Courses

May Take: With These High School-Level Language Courses: With This Advanced Placement Score: With This UC Merced Language Placement Exam Score:
Level 1 2 Years or less 1 or below 265 or below
Level 2 3 years 2 266 - 330
Level 3 4 years 3 331 - 411
Level 4 N/A 4 412 - 484
Upper Division N/A 5 N/A

Heritage Speakers Who Have Not Taken College-Level Language Courses (SPANISH ONLY)

May Take: With These High School-Level Language Courses: With This Advanced Placement Score: With This UC Merced Language Placement Exam Score:
SPAN 10 4 Years or Less of Regular Spanish Courses 3 or below N/A
SPAN 11 1 year of a Spanish for Heritage Speakers Course 4 N/A
Upper Division 2 years of Spanish for Heritage Speakers Courses 5 N/A

Note: Placement must be based only on score reports and/or transcripts, not on self-reported information.

Spanish Heritage Speakers

Spanish heritage speakers cannot automatically register for upper division Spanish courses. They must satisfy the course pre-requisites or have permission of the instructor.

The UC Merced Language Placement exam is not designed for Spanish Heritage speakers. In order to register in a Spanish upper division course, students should have a score of 5 on the AP Spanish Language Test or have taken two years of Spanish for Heritage Speakers in High School. Otherwise, students must complete SPAN 10 and 11 or obtain permission of the instructor.

Transfer Coursework

Due to differences in curriculum from institution to institution, it is recommended that students take the placement exam or consult a foreign language instructor for appropriate placement.