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Placement Exams

An Overview

Depending on your major or degree type, you may need to take a placement exam. Biola offers placement exams in Foreign Language, Physics, Chemistry, and Music. Please see the placement information below for more information about who needs to which exam(s) as well as how and when to take the placement exams.


Exams Needed
All Majors

Additional Exams for Select Majors

Exams Needed

Biological Sciences
Engineering Physics
Environmental Science
Human Biology
Physical Education
Physical Science

Foreign Language Placement

To find out your foreign language requirements, please review the Degree Requirements sheet for your major.

French, German and Spanish Placement Exams

If you are required to take the French, German or Spanish Placement exam, then you can do it completely online. Please set aside a minimum of one hour for taking the Placement Test — it will likely not take you this long, but it must be taken in one sitting and cannot be repeated, so plan for that time.

The placement exam is closed book and cannot be taken with any additional resources including translating programs. Any additional attempts to take the exam will incur fees.

Click here for access to the French, German, and Spanish Placement Exams. The password to access the test is: password

Upon completion, if you receive a note that indicates "Contact the Modern Languages Dept. for further evaluation," please connect with the Modern Languages department at to confirm your placement level.

Note: The Modern Languages Department recommends taking the placement exam at least one week before registration as, depending on your score, you may need to meet with a professor to confirm placement before you can register for a language class. Additionally, the placement test is not linked to the registration system at Biola and test scores need to be manually inputted to give access to register for 200-level courses or higher. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to register for the class you placed into if you take the test within 48 hours of your registration window.

Chemistry Placement Exam

Which exam will you be required to take?

  • CHEM 105 — General Chemistry I Placement Exam
    • This exam is required for all other science majors. Majors included: biochemistry, biological science, chemistry, engineering physics, environmental science, human biology, physical science, physics, kinesiology (pre-physical therapy).
      • Please Note: Kinesiology (exercise science and health promotion students have the option of taking either CHEM 120 or CHEM 105. Please contact an academic advisor for more information.
  • CHEM 120 — Principles of Organic and Biochemistry Placement Exam
    • This exam is required for nursing, physical education (teaching and coaching) and kinesiology (exercise science & health promotion) students only

CHEM 105 Placement Exam Details

The CHEM 105 exam is closed book, closed notes. Calculators are not permitted.

CHEM 120 Placement Exam Details

The Chemistry 120 exam is closed book, closed notes, but a non-programmable calculator is permitted. Please bring your own non-programmable calculator to the exam.

Testing Dates

The chemistry placement exams are available throughout the academic year for current students. Please contact to set up an exam.

For new students enrolling for the Fall 2019 semester, more information will be available soon regarding the events where you may take your required exams. 

Study Materials

For further assistance please contact Peggy Giboney, Administrative Coordinator for the CPE Department at Please use your email account for all communications with Biola.

Physics Placement Exam

Who takes this exam?

Biochemistry, Biological Science, Engineering Physics, Environmental Science, Human Biology, Kinesiology, Physical Science, Chemistry and Physics majors.

Testing Dates:

The physics placement exam is available throughout the academic year for current students. Please contact to set up an exam.

For new students enrolling for the Fall 2019 semester, more information will be available soon regarding the events where you may take your required exam.

Study Materials:

Basic Physics Placement Exam Study Guide

The physics placement exam checks that a student’s high school math background was strong enough to succeed in studying college-level physics, where algebra, trigonometry, and word-problem-solving skills are critical. The exam is not a test of physics knowledge, although a high-school physics course is definitely recommended before taking a college-level course. You should be able to work simple problems involving the following skills. The exam is closed book, closed notes, but a nonprogrammable calculator is permitted. Conversion factors between units (lb. to kg. etc.) will be given to you in a table. You should know the basic metric conversions (cm or km to meters).

The test mostly covers:

  • Simple algebra involving manipulation of equations involving exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers.
  • Simplification of equations using basic algebra. “Solving” of an equation for a particular variable.
  • Basic trigonometry problems involving sines, cosines, tangents, and their inverse functions.
  • Working with algebraic equations involving inequalities (<, >, etc.).
  • Conversions involving various measurement units, when the conversion factors are provided. (The type of problems that can be solved by “cancelling units”.)
  • Using simple geometric concepts (circles, radii, diameters, and areas) and trigonometry (sides and hypotenuse of right triangles) to set up and solve word problems.
  • Correct use of rounding, significant figures and “places to the right of the decimal” to express precision in calculations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Expressing numbers in scientific notation, and calculations involving numbers written this way.
  • Using substitution of variables units to check whether an equation is reasonable.
  • Convert between masses, volumes, and densities (grams per cubic meter, etc.).
  • Recognize quadratic equations (the quadratic formula need not be memorized).
  • Express equations involving powers (x^a)
  • Recognize the equation of a line (y = mx + b), understand and use the concepts of slope, x-intercept, and y-intercept.
  • Recognize when equations are not linear (y = mx^2)
  • Know and use simple metric prefixes: (micro, milli, centi, kilo, mega).
  • Understand in very basic conceptual terms what a vector is, and how vectors are added

To review these topics, we recommend the following resources:

Physics for Dummies, or the newer Physics I for Dummies and Physics II for Dummies are good texts. It is especially helpful to get the Physics Workbook for Dummies in order to build your math and problem-solving skills. Precalculus for Dummies, along with its companion workbook, is also helpful if you are math-challenged.

You may also find the following online resources helpful:

These resources cover much more material than the test does, so please focus your studying on only the topics listed above. This exam mainly tests your math proficiency, not your specific knowledge of physics.

Additional Information:

Health-professions students entering Biola as freshmen or sophomores have the advantage of being able to take the pre-physics course, PHSC 092 Introduction to Physics, during the spring semester if they do not pass the exam. Other colleges offer similar introduction to physics courses, but please check with us before you take it elsewhere, to verify that it meets our requirements (GE conceptual physics courses like our “Physics in Everyday Life” will not give you the math preparation necessary for the level of physics that your major requires).

Most engineering students entering Biola as freshmen need to take Physics 132 this fall, so if you did not pass the placement exam when we offered it during the Science, Technology and Health Advising day in May, please take a CPE Department approved summer course elsewhere, or study the materials above so that you will be prepared to pass the exam at Fall Orientation on August 30. Delaying Physics may mean that you will not stay on schedule for completing the 3+2 program on time.

If you are a health-professions student already at Biola or a transfer student, you may face an additional year here if you do not take Physics 1 on schedule. You are especially encouraged to take an approved summer course elsewhere if you did not pass the placement exam.

The self-study tools above are offered for those who are unable to take a physics preparation course either here or elsewhere. Remember that the goal is not simply to pass the exam, but to gain the math skills you need so that you will succeed in the real course(s).

For further assistance please contact Peggy Giboney, Administrative Coordinator for the CPE Department at Please use your email account for all communications with Biola.

Music Placement Exams

Music: Diagnostic Theory Placement Exam

Who takes it?

The Diagnostic Theory Placement Exam is administered to all prospective Music Majors and Minors during their music application process (the music application is separate from the university application). The exam does not affect acceptance or scholarship distribution in any way. It is merely a diagnostic tool to determine the academic level of each student for music theory course registration. Only seniors in high school through college transfer level students may take this exam.

Music Majors will have completed this exam prior to acceptance into the major and prior to registering for courses.

When is it available?

The placement exam is available throughout the academic year and is administered in the music building for students who have already begun the music application process. The music office has daily (M–F) exam start times of 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.

What does the exam cover?

The exam covers material from our basic level theory courses. The best way to prepare would be to review:

  • Key Signatures
  • Scales
  • Collegiate level terminology
  • Time signatures
  • Rhythms
  • Circle of fifths
  • Basic 4-part writing
Additional Resources
  • Robert Ottman's Elementary Harmony: Theory and Practice
  • Robert Ottman's Advanced Harmony: Theory and Practice

Music: Sight-singing and Dictation Exam

Who takes it?

This exam is mandatory for all Music Majors.

Testing date

Please contact for placement dates.

Music: Keyboard Placement Exam

Who takes it?

All non-keyboard Music Majors (including Composition and Worship majors with piano emphasis) are required to take this exam.

Testing date

Please contact for placement dates.