Chemistry Placement Exam

The Chemistry Placement Test is a readiness assessment and used for advising purposes (see table below).

It is only necessary for students planning to enroll in chemistry courses, specifically CHEM 101 (Foundations of Chemistry) or CHEM 111 (General Chemistry I)  This may include students with the following intended courses of study: biology, environmental science (all tracks), chemistry, climate science minor, geology (all tracks), neuroscience minor, pre-conservation in fine art minor, pre-medical studies (including physician’s assistant track), pre-veterinary studies and pre-pharmacy.  

If you do not intend to pursue one of these courses of study, then you do not need to take this test.

Students cannot register for the CHEM 101 or CHEM 111 chemistry courses without completing the test.


To Take the Test:

Current Students:  Contact the Chemistry Department office manager, Jessica Murphy (

Transfer Students: Contact Professor Kelli Slunt (

Nicole Crowder, assistant professor of chemistry works with students on a research project. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

Incoming First-Year Students: You will be contacted by email about the test before summer orientation

General question about the test: Contact Professor Kelli Slunt (

An email with instructions for completing the placement test will be received within two business days of the request to take the exam. 

Test scores will be reported to the Registrar at least once a week during the open chemistry placement window.  Once the scores are entered into Banner by the registrar, a student can register for the recommended chemistry course.


Helpful Background Information

Purpose of the Test

This placement test is to help determine the appropriate introductory chemistry course that will ensure a student’s best chances for academic success. The score is an advising tool, and to make it as useful as possible, please be completely honest in taking this test. This means:

  1. Do not use outside sources of assistance. This may falsely inflate your score and lead you to enroll in a course you are not prepared for.
  2. If you do not know the answer for a given question, leave it blank. A correct guess will inflate your score and may lead you to enroll in a course that you are not prepared for

Our ability to give good advice on course selection depends on the score being an accurate reflection of abilities, so please respect these guidelines.

How to Interpret the Results

The below table below shows the recommended course to register for based on your test score and either SAT or ACT math scores.

Test Score MATH SAT MATH ACT Recommended Starting Course ALEKS Summer Preparation (see below)
30 or below Any Any CHEM 101 strongly recommended
31 to 34 Below 500 Below 21 CHEM 101 strongly recommended
Above 500 Above 21 CHEM 111 strongly recommended
35 or above Any Any CHEM 111 recommended

ALEKS Summer Preparation

All UMW Chemistry 101 and 111 courses will use McGraw-Hill’s online ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) online adaptive learning system.  All students enrolled in these courses will receive information shortly before or during orientation about accessing this system.  All students should consider using the summer chemistry prep module that comes with ALEKS access, but those students with placement test scores below 35 should consider the summer prep as a necessary step to ensure academic success.