Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the placement test mandatory?
  • Anyone who has had significant exposure to the Chinese (Mandarin, or Cantonese or other dialects) or Japanese language through formal classroom study or living with native speakers should take the placement evaluation. If you have not, no placement evaluation is required; just enroll in a Chinese or Japanese 1 class.

  • When should I take the placement test? And where can I take it?
  • You should take the placement evaluation as soon as possible. The earlier you take the evaluation and register for the appropriate course, the greater the possibility that you can enroll in the class. Contact the Language Learning Center in 53 Olson Hall at 530-752-1508 to arrange an appointment for the evaluation.

  • What is the format of the placement test?
  • The Placement Evaluation consists of a background survey and a multiple-choice exam. It may take up to 60 minutes, depending on your proficiency, to complete both the survey and the exam. You will receive your placement result immediately upon completing the exam, and you can register for a class as placed. If you have already registered for a language class at an inappropriate level, you should switch to the class level into which you are placed.

  • How long does the test take?
  • About 60 minutes, depending on your proficiency.

  • How should I prepare for the placement test?
  • You do not need to prepare. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify your proficiency in order to direct you to the appropriate course.

  • I am certain that I will be at the first and most basic level class since I have not taken any courses or do not have any other language background. Do I still have to take the placement test?
  • If you have never learned the language in a formal setting or lived with native speakers for a significant period, no placement evaluation is required; just enroll in a Chinese or Japanese 1 class.

  • Last year, I took a Chinese placement test but did not enroll in a Chinese class. Does that test count now?
  • Yes, the evaluation only needs to be retaken if:

    1) it has been two or more years since you took the Chinese placement evaluation, or
    2) you have received either formal or informal Chinese instruction elsewhere or spent a substantial time in a Mandarin-speaking community during the two years after you took the placement evaluation.

  • Last year, I took a Japanese placement test but did not enroll in a Japanese class. Does that test count now?

  • Japanese placement exam results are valid for one year after the placement evaluation. After that, please contact Professor Nobuko Koyama ( to discuss your options.

  • I originally registered in the CHN 1 course. After I took the placement test, I was told to go into the CHN 1BL course. Now I am waitlisted #5 for the 1BL class. Will the Chinese department help me get into the class?
  • The placement evaluation only determines which course you should take. It does not guarantee your enrollment in the course. Whether you can enroll in the course depends on the overall demand for the course. Your enrollment is governed by the school registration policies and procedures. In your case, being fifth on the waiting list gives you a good chance to be enrolled, but there is no guarantee. We strongly encourage students who want to enroll in Chinese courses to act quickly. Take the placement evaluation and then register for the course where placed you as early as possible.  You can enroll in a class before taking the evaluation but it may be determined you are enrolled at an inappropriate level.

  • If I can't enroll this quarter, when I want to register for the class in the future, do I need to retake the placement test?
  • Generally speaking, the placement evaluation result is valid for two years. But if you receive either formal or informal Chinese instruction elsewhere or spend a substantial time in a Mandarin-speaking community during the two years after you take the placement evaluation, you should re-take it.

  • I was placed into Chinese 1BL since I can understand some Mandarin and speak a little, but I do not know how to write Chinese at all. Should I enroll in Chinese 1 instead?
  • You should take the course indicated after taking the placement evaluation.  The reason we conduct the evaluation is to direct students to appropriate courses. We group students with similar language backgrounds into the same course, in order to teach them well and give them the best possible educational experience.

    The BL track is only a little faster than the regular track, and students are not expected to be completely fluent in speaking or good at writing. The BL classes do cover Mandarin pronunciation, conversation, and new vocabulary, as well as writing.

  • Can I take the placement test to fulfill the college foreign language requirement?
  • Yes.  The College of Letters and Science currently has a 15 unit level of proficiency or one year required in a foreign language as the foreign language requirement.  This does not mean that you have to take 15 units of a language class, just prove proficiency through that level.  To fulfill the College requirement, you would need to place into Chinese 4 or Chinese 3BL or Japanese 4.  Some Majors have additional foreign language requirements -  such as International Relations.  Be sure to check with your Major Advisor to determine if you have additional requirements.

  • I took the AP exam for Chinese in high school – shouldn’t this indicate what my language proficiency level is?
  • Taking the Chinese Language AP exam does not clearly indicate which Chinese course would be best for you to continue your Chinese language studies.  Some students are ready for 4th year Chinese while others are better suited in the 3rd year Chinese language courses.  If you have scored 3, 4 or 5 on your AP exam for Chinese, you need to take the Chinese placement examination to determine where to continue your Chinese language studies. Schedule and instruction of the Chinese placement exam are given on this webpage:

    Students that scored 3, 4 or 5 on your AP Chinese exams are strongly encouraged to consider doing a minor, major, or double major with Chinese since you will bypass the majority, if not all, of the lower division language courses required for a Chinese major thus completing the major at an accelerated pace sometimes allowing adequate time for a double major.  Meet with the EALC Undergraduate Advisor to help you determine if a double major or minor in Chinese is a possibility for you.

  • I'll take a Chinese course next quarter, when should I take the placement exam?
  • You can take the evaluation during the current quarter.  Contact the UC Davis Language Center staff to arrange an appointment.