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Language Placement Guidelines

It is very important for you to begin your language studies at Salem State at the appropriate level. If you have studied a language in high school or if you speak the language due to life experience, you should not enroll in the 101-level course. The 101 course is designed for beginners who have very little or no prior experience with the language.

Language Placement Guidelines

Students who have previous experience in French, Italian, Arabic, or German, should follow the department's placement guidelines below and/or consult a faculty member in the foreign languages department. Students who wish to study Spanish should take the Spanish Placement test (see below). The AP test, SAT-II subject test, or the CLEP test can also be used to determine placement if you happen to have taken one of them.

Course Basic guidelines for placement

  • No experience in the language (true beginner)
  • Less than two years of high school study in the language
  • Less than 400 in the SAT-II
  • Below 250 in Spanish WebCAPE placement test
  • 2-3 years of high school language study
  • 400-460 in SAT-II test
  • 251-320 in Spanish WebCAPE placement test
  • 3-4 years of high school language study
  • 461-559 in SAT-II test
  • 321-399in Spanish WebCAPE placement test
  • 4-5 years of high school language study
  • At least 560 in SAT-II test
  • 400-499 in Spanish WebCAPE placement test
  • 3 in the AP test
  • Five or more years previous language study
  • Above 700 in SAT-II test
  • 4 or 5 in AP test
  • Or permission of the department’s chairperson


Spanish Placement Test

Students wishing to study Spanish can take the free online WebCAPE Spanish Placement Test to find out which level is right for them. All students with prior experience in Spanish are required to take the Salem State University test.

Who should take the Spanish placement test?

Anyone planning to take a Spanish course at Salem State who:

  • previously took Spanish courses in high school or in another college or language school, and/or
  • speaks Spanish as a first or second language at home (international students or heritage speakers)

Where do I take the test?

You can use the computers in the Language Resource Center (Language Laboratory) in Sullivan Building 117, whenever it is open, or you can take the test online from your home computer or another computer lab. Follow the directions, using the following password: vikings1 (Note: you do not need a username, but you will be asked for your student ID to begin the test)

How do I get the results?

At the end of the test, the computer will generate your score and will display a table showing what course is the equivalent for your score. You can print the score and take it to the Chairperson or your Academic Advisor when you register for your first Spanish class at Salem State.
Salem State recommendations (check with the chairperson or your instructor if borderline or if you have any questions)


SPN 101 below 250
SPN 102 251-320
SPN 201 321-399
SPN 202, SPN 212 400-499
300-level above 500


If you lose your score or have any problems with the test, contact Dr. Jon Aske, director of the LRC.

Department Policies

Native speakers and heritage speakers, those who learned a language through family or life experience, can not earn credit for elementary-level language courses.

  • Students who intentionally place themselves into an elementary course when they have prior experience in the language can be expelled from the course at any time during the semester if the instructor discovers the deception.

  • The SSU WebCAPE Spanish Placement test can not be used to exempt a student from the foreign language requirement. Consult the university catalog to find out how to fulfill the foreign language requirement

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