Chinese Placement Exam

All entering students who have some background in the Chinese language (Mandarin) and plan to take Chinese classes at St Olaf College, including heritage students who can speak the language yet with no or limited reading/writing skills, must take the Chinese Placement Exam. The exam has two parts: the placement test (off campus) and the oral interview (on campus).

The placement exam is offered in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

This is the Simplified Chinese exam. You may also take the Traditional Chinese exam.

Part I: Placement Test

(To be done off campus/during the summer)

The Placement Test is a 100-question multiple choice/true-and-false computer test. After filling in a short questionnaire of background information, you will move to the testing items, including vocabulary, pinyin, grammar, sentence structure, and reading comprehension in simplified Chinese characters. There is only one correct answer for each question. Answer as many questions as quickly as possible and return to more difficult questions after you have finished the exam. This is not an achievement test; you might not know or even have seen some of the characters/questions before. Just try your best. There is no penalty for incorrect answers, and you may go back and change your choice (before your final submission). Your score will be the total number of correct answers.

Based on your performance on this section, you may be prompted by the computer to respond to an additional section of reading comprehension (8 questions).

To access the test itself, you will need to enter your St. Olaf username and password. The deadline for new students taking the online Chinese placement test off-campus is usually on the first week of the Fall semester (the first day of class). We encourage you to take it early in the summer. Students unable to access the placement exam online during the summer may be able to take it on campus. Computers will be available to students in different public areas of the college.

All students who complete the online placement test will receive their results and tentative placement. Upon their arrival on campus, students might be selected for an oral interview. Additional information about the Chinese Language Program can be found on the Asian Studies Department web site, at

Part II: Selective Oral Interview

(To be done after arriving on campus)

During Week 1, students who have taken the placement test and wish to enroll in a Chinese language class may be scheduled with one of the Chinese faculty members for a brief (15 minute) interview. The focus is on listening comprehension, pronunciation, tones, fluency, and correct usage of Chinese, to make sure students are placed in the level appropriate classes.

If you have any questions about the Chinese language program or the placement exam, please contact us by email at