UM Advising Commons

Placement Assessments

Proper course placement is integral to a student’s positive and successful educational experience. Because students come to The University of Montana from all over the world, and possess varied academic backgrounds and skills, several departments offer entrance or placement assessments so that each student will be advised into the proper course level. There are placement assessment in Chemistry, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Music, and Writing.

Chemistry Assessment

The Department of Chemistry requires a placement assessment of all students who intend to enroll in the CHMY 141-142 series. The exam identifies students who lack high school-level chemistry or algebra skills; the exam is offered during summer orientations and during the first week of classes. A non-programmable calculator is recommended. The exam requires an hour and results are returned in a timely fashion. Contact the Chemistry department with questions at 406.243.6880.

Foreign Language Assessment

The Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures (MCLL) Department offers a computerized placement assessment examination in French, German, or Spanish. Credit is automatically granted for Advanced Placement scores of 3 or above.

Placement examinations are held from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. each orientation, in LA 104, the computer lab on the first floor of the LA Building. Contact New Student Services, 406.243.6266, for the dates of each orientation.

Mathematics Assessment

All students must complete a course in math in order to graduate. To determine the appropriate math course, students should take the math assessment. The University uses a web-based testing system called ALEKS. More information about ALEKS can be found at

Music Assessments

Both Music Theory and Music Voice assessments are offered for all music majors, minors, and non-majors interested in taking music theory or private voice lessons. Assessments are offered during Orientations or by contacting the Music department, 406.243.6880.

Music Theory Placement Assessment

This assessment is offered for all music majors, minors, and non-majors interested in registering for music theory. The exam assesses a student’s music theory ability and recommends placement in either the 100-level or the 200-level theory and aural perception courses. The one-hour assessment is offered during summer orientations and results are posted the day following the exam.

Music Voice Auditions

Auditions are required of any student wishing to enroll in private voice lessons. Due to the interest in this area, vocal auditions are scheduled during final orientation sessions prior to each semester. Students are evaluated by voice faculty members.

Piano Placement Auditions

An audition is required of any student wishing to enroll in private or class piano lessons. Non-piano majors will be placed in one of the piano class sections, based upon the placement exam given by one of the piano faculty. Students who have previously studied piano should come prepared to audition.

Writing Assessment

Placement into English Composition courses is now largely determined by scores that students have earned in various assessments including the Montana University System Writing Assessment (MUSWA) and/or SAT and ACT assessments that measure preparedness for college-level composition.

Placement by Assessment Scores

The majority of new students will be placed into the appropriate English composition course based upon one of the writing assessment scores listed below. Students will have an individualized placement sheet in their Advising Folders to inform them of their placement based upon the grid below.

MUS Writing
5.5-6 11-12 700-800 32-36 Eligible to enroll in WRIT 201
3.5-5 7-10 440-690 18-31 Eligible to enroll in WRIT 101
2.5-3 5-6 390-430 16-17 Eligible to enroll in WRIT 095 or take exam to challenge placement
Below 2.5 Below 5 Below 390 Below 16 Eligible to enroll in WRIT 095

Placement by English Department Placement “Challenge Opportunity” Assessment

The English Department offers an English Placement Assessment during the summer orientations, late registrations, and priority registrations.  New students whose ACT, SAT, or MUSWA assessment scores place them in the grid above as “eligible to take exam to challenge” their placement into WRIT 095 will make the decision to either take the English Placement Assessment or opt to enroll in WRIT 095. Also, non-traditional or transfer students who do not present test scores at admission must take the college exam or opt for WRIT 095.

All students must take an English Composition course as one of the four requirements of the Writing Skills component of the general education requirement.  Students may meet this requirement in a variety of ways. Students take: WRIT 101 or WRIT 201 or transfer in a composition equivalent course designated by the code E101 or WRIT 101 equivalent.

Generally, students are placed into an English Composition course or a pre-requisite course by the levels of their MUSWA, ACT, or SAT scores.

For more information about the English Composition courses, view the Composition website at


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