UMW Language Requirement and Language Placement


Our general education requirements reflect Mary Washington’s distinctive liberal arts and sciences values, an important part of which is Intermediate Competency in a language other than English.  For many students this means completing through the 202 or 205 level in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

In order to move efficiently and successfully through the sequence of language courses at UMW, first-time students should begin their language study at the appropriate level. The Department of Modern Languages offers a placement exam in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. A Japanese test will be offered the first day of fall classes for exemption only, as UMW does not currently offer courses in Japanese language.

Students entering the university in the fall 2018 semester or thereafter may earn course credit through UMW’s language placement testing procedure. “Back” (or retroactive) credit in the amount of three credits will be awarded to a student who took the UMW language placement exam, then takes the same language at the level in which (s)he placed on the exam, and successfully completes that level (course) with a B- grade or higher. Eligible students will be notified after final grades have been posted. Students must officially request that the back (retroactive) credits be added to their academic record by contacting the Registrar’s office. Please see this page for more information and some FAQs: 

UMW Modern Language Placement By Avant Placement Exam Scores

Avant Score                                       Approx. Proficiency level              UMW Course placement

5 or higher Intermediate-Mid Invited to take re-exam for exemption, possible 300 level placement
4.5 Intermediate-Low Invited to take re-exam, possible 300 level placement
4 Intermediate-Low 202
3.5 Novice-High 201, or 205 for students who want to complete LR in one semester
3 Novice-High 201, or 205 for students who want to complete LR in one semester
2.5 Novice-Mid 102, or 105 for students who want review
2 Novice-Mid 102, or 105 for students who want review


The score can be found in the student’s Banner record, under the tab “Prior Education and Testing”

Our placement exam is administered through Avant Placement. New students will receive an email with instructions and test codes in order to take the exam at home between April 2 and May 15, 2019. Students will be notified of their scores and their recommended placement at summer orientation. Additionally, students who score high on this exam will be invited to take another proctored exam the first day of fall semester classes if they wish to seek exemption from the UMW language requirement. Otherwise, they can take the recommended 300 level course. NOTE: Latin courses and placement exam is administered through the Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion. Click here for the Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion website.

You should only take a placement exam for a language that you have previously studied in high school. If you plan to start with a new language that you have never studied, do not take a placement exam. You should register for the 101 course in that language.

It is important to do well on this exam. Students who start at the lowest level will be taking 12 credits total to complete language requirement. Testing into a higher level of language means more room for major or minor courses, or proceeding more quickly to advanced language studies. Students can prepare for the exam by reviewing previous language study, and by taking the Avant practice exam (linked here).

By taking this test you are bound by the University of Mary Washington Honor Code. This means, that you are on your honor to take the placement test by yourself using no assistance during the test. You will not use any reference materials, nor will you have another person help you while you are taking the test. Likewise, you are not to download, print out, or in any way save this test.

The equipment you will need for the exam include a PC, Mac, or Chromebook computer; a headset with microphone; and Chrome, or Safari internet browsers. For more information about the test and the technical requirements and to take a practice exam, please see this page before taking the Avant PLACE test:

The placement exam is open May 1–June 1, 2019 for June orientation dates. You need to allow about 45 minutes to complete the test. You will find out your scores, and your recommended placement at orientation.

Contact Information for academic and placement questions: Dr. Elizabeth Franklin Lewis, Chair, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

For technical questions or problems with the functioning of the test itself, please see this webpage or contact the University of Mary Washington Help Desk:

Phone:  540-654-2255