Language Placement Exams

Students who have not previously studied an East Asian Language at Harvard, but who wish to study that language in a course higher than Ba (the first semester of an "Elementary" or introductory-level course) must first have their level of proficiency assessed by taking a placement exam. This includes heritage speakers; students who have previously studied the language in a non-Harvard setting; and those who have taken non-Harvard summer and/or Study Abroad courses during their time at Harvard in order to advance their language level more quickly. Students who have completed language courses in the Harvard Summer School taught by EALP faculty are not required to take the placement exam. Students placing into the third-year level or higher on the exam may also use their results to demonstrate that they have satisfied Harvard College’s undergraduate language requirement.

For students returning from study abroad: please note that in order to earn language citation credit, you must place out of courses at the second-year level or higher. First-year language study (including Bx courses) is not citation-eligible. 

Below is information about current placement exams, which are offered prior to the start of classes each semester.

Japanese Placement Exam

August 22, 2022: 10 am EDT Listening exam administered in real time over Zoom

August 22, 2022 (10 am EDT) ~ August 23, 2022 (10 am EDT):   Grammar, reading, and writing sections of exam open to take online.


Japanese Makeup Placement Test: 

August 29, 2022: 10 am EDT Listening exam administered in real time over Zoom

August 29, 2022 (10 am EDT) ~ August 30, 2022 (10 am EDT):   Grammar, reading, and writing sections of exam open to take online.

Students will also sign up online for a 10 minute oral interview to be conducted over Zoom in real time on August 22~23 and August 29~30. Sign-up link and more details TBA.

Korean Placement Exam

- Friday, August 19, 2022

(*Make-up date: Tuesday, August 23, 2022 @ same time below)

10:00 am - 12:00 pm (EST) Writing /Reading/Grammar & 10-min Oral Exam between 12:00 pm-2:00 pm (EST)
(You will be assigned a time for the Oral exam upon registration)


  • Once we receive your completed online form, we will send you a confirmation email with instructions and a zoom link for the written portion of the exam (Composition/Reading/Grammar) and your assigned time slot & zoom link for the 10- minute Oral Exam.


  • Please come into the zoom 3 minutes before the exam time. You MUST stay in zoom throughout the exam with the video on.
  • You MUST be registered prior to taking the exam.
  • After checking in, you will be given detailed instructions to access the placement exam through a canvas site.

Literary (Classical) Chinese Placement Exam

For information about Literary Chinese at Harvard and the placement exams for first- and second-year courses, please visit the Literary and Classical Chinese Language Program website.

To make arrangements for a placement exam in Literary/Classical Chinese, e-mail David Sena, Preceptor in Literary Chinese ( Please provide your name and year of study, and describe your prior study of Literary or Classical Chinese. Indicate whether you intend to take the first- or the second-year exam (see program website for details about this). Please also specify what time zone you will be located in when you take the exam.

Vietnamese Placement Exam

E-mail Program Director Hoa Le directly to schedule a test and receive a link to the self-assessment survey. For more details, please take a look at the placement test flyer, or contact hle @

Chinese Placement Exam

Test Date:
Friday, August

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm ET Written Test (composition; grammar & reading)

3:30 pm - 5:30 pm ET Oral Test (you will be assigned a 5-minute test slot between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm. A Zoom link with your assigned slot will be sent to you through email)

Makeup Exam:
Monday, August 22

8:30 am - 10:30 am ET Written Test (composition; grammar & reading)

10:30 am - 12:30 pm ET Oral Test (you will be assigned a 5-minute test slot between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. A Zoom link with your assigned slot will be sent to you through email)

How to take the exam?

1. To register for the Chinese placement exam, you MUST fill out the Chinese Placement Exam Survey TWO DAYS prior to the exam, as we need to designate how many teachers will be operating the tests based off of which dates students will be testing. However, if you miss the deadline, you can still register for the exam by filling out the survey. But it would be appreciated if you can finish it two days prior to the exam. Thank you so much for your cooperation.

Here is the link:


2. The placement exam includes three parts: grammar & reading, composition and oral interview. Before the exam, you will receive an email including the following information:

• The Zoom meeting address for grammar & reading and composition exam, which you need to attend first;

• The Zoom meeting address for the oral interview. You will find your name on an excel file where you can find the Zoom link.

3. On the exam day you signed up for, please attend the Zoom meeting for grammar & reading and composition exam first, where you will receive the exam links on Zoom chat. When you come to join the Zoom meeting, you will receive an exam link for composition first, you will be given half an hour to finish your composition (by typing). After that, you will receive the exam link for grammar & reading test. You will have one hour and a half to finish this part. You will have a 3–5-minute oral interview afterwards.

Test requirements

1. You must have

• One of the following: Harvard ID, driver’s license, passport, or government ID

• A quiet, well-lit room

• A reliable internet connection

• A computer

• 2 hours of free time for grammar & reading exam and composition, 5 minutes for oral interview

2. Your computer must have

• Zoom

• A browser

• A Chinese input for typing the composition

• A front-facing camera

• A microphone

What you should know before the exam?

1. IMPORTANT: Please make sure to register by filling out the online questionnaire before you attend the exam.

2. Please prepare your valid ID (with a profile photo on it), such as a Harvard ID, driver’s license, passport, or government ID. You will be asked to show your ID card to the teachers both on the grammar & reading exam Zoom meeting and the oral interview Zoom meeting.

3. Please prepare your laptop and make sure it is 100% charged. During the exam, please check your device battery constantly to make sure that you will not lose any work due to sudden power-off of computer.

4. Please notice that you will finish the composition by typing instead of writing the Chinese characters. Make sure Chinese input is already installed in your laptop. If you have any questions of installing Chinese input, please contact Harvard IT as soon as possible so you can have your laptop prepared for the exam.

5. Please be on time for the exam. The online exam will only be open in our exam time (0.5 hour for composition, 1.5 hours for grammar & reading), and once it is closed, you will not be able to access the exam.

6. General Instruction for the Online Placement Test:

· No switching to any other browser windows during exam.

· No use of any other tools other than the Chinese input system on the computer.

· No asking for help.

· Any suspicious actions on computer will lead to immediate termination of your exam.

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