Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Entering St. Olaf


Students entering St. Olaf with test scores of three to five from the CEEB Advanced Placement Program may receive placement and/or credit according to policies set by the college’s departments and programs. Scores of “5” uniformly receive placement and credit. Scores of “4” generally receive placement and/or credit, and scores of “3” may receive placement and/or credit. Each department or program may choose to review the essay-test booklets of entering students, including transfer students. In all cases, Advanced Placement credit is at the discretion of the departments and programs. Advanced Placement credit awarded in the biology, chemistry, or physics areas does not fulfill St. Olaf’s general education requirement of a laboratory science (NSL) but will satisfy a non-laboratory science requirement (NST). Departmental/program policies and guidelines for awarding advanced placement credit are available at the Registrar’s Office and on the registrar’s website at


Upon receipt of official documentation, and with certain departmental restrictions, St. Olaf awards credit only for scores of “5” through “7” on the Higher Exams of the High School International Baccalaureate Program. Departmental/program policies and guidelines for awarding international baccalaureate credit are availabe at the Registrar’s Office; questions should be directed to the registrar. 


Entering students may bring to St. Olaf up to five equivalent St. Olaf course credits taken under a post-secondary option program (PSEO) or other program in which college courses are taken during students’ high school years. The following restrictions are in place:

  1. No more than five equivalent St. Olaf course credits will be awarded to an entering first-year student.
  2. The course work must be taken through an accredited college under an established post-secondary program.
  3. Students must have the college certifying the credit send an official transcript directly to the Registrar’s Office at St. Olaf.
  4. Judgments on course credits and general education credit will be made by the college registrar.


The writing program administers a writing placement test for first-year students whose SAT verbal and writing scores, ACT English and reading scores, or additional admissions materials indicate that they may benefit from taking English 107 or English 110 before enrolling in First-Year Writing. Students required to take the writing placement exam receive a letter from the director of writing upon arrival to campus. The writing placement exam is offered only during Week One. International students take a writing placement test as part of International Student Orientation.


New matriculating students are expected to complete their Foreign Language (FOL) requirement with a course or courses taken at St. Olaf. Students entering with previous training in a foreign language must take the relevant placement test. If they decide to complete the FOL requirement in that language, they must take and pass the necessary course(s) according to the placement test results and the FOL policy for the specific language. Students who place higher than the last course normally required to complete the FOL requirement may be eligible to take a proficiency exam. Please consult individual departments for information about their FOL policies.

New matriculating or new transfer students who have taken college-level foreign language courses at another institution may receive elective credit for those courses, within the maximum number of pre-college credits allowed by St. Olaf, if the courses are deemed appropriate by the registrar. To complete the FOL requirement in that language, such students must take the relevant placement test and follow the procedure described in the preceding paragraph.

If new matriculating students or new transfer students wish to complete their FOL requirement with courses in a language not taught at St. Olaf, the course(s) must comply with college policy for completion of the FOL requirement, as determined by the Registrar.

After a student matriculates, under special circumstances, the Registrar, in consultation with the appropriate foreign language department, may grant permission to a student to complete the final course for the FOL requirement through summer intensive or semester courses (through a leave of absence) taken at another institution.

Students who enter St. Olaf College with a native language other than English may have their FOL requirement fulfilled by showing evidence of their native language. These students must prove completion through eighth grade in their native language; or they must provide a high school transcript that shows they completed their high school requirements in their native language; or they may take a St. Olaf College proficiency test.


The foreign language departments place first-year students and other new students in appropriate language courses on the basis of placement tests or high school preparation.

The foreign language placement tests are relatively short, diagnostic tests; they should not be considered exhaustive and do not provide a satisfactory basis for the certification of proficiency or for receiving course credit. Rather they function entirely for placement in St. Olaf language courses.


The foreign language proficiency tests are administered by the various foreign language departments. The foreign language proficiency tests measure proficiency at a level equivalent to the end of the corresponding number 231 or 232 language course. A student who passes the appropriate proficiency test satisfies the St. Olaf foreign language requirement (FOL), but does not receive course credit.

Proficiency reports from persons not known to St. Olaf must be based on documented exposure or training by the student in a foreign language equivalent in length to three or four college semesters or demonstration of a sufficient length of time in a non-English speaking culture to give credence to a proficiency report. As a rule, proficiency reports from persons outside of St. Olaf are not acted upon until the student arranges for a final proficiency exam by persons and methods agreed to by members of the foreign language faculty, the registrar, and, if deemed necessary, the dean of the college. Such exams may involve an expense charged to the student.