The purpose of any proficiency test is to find out whether you have mastered the knowledge and the skills that are taught in a particular course well enough that you are prepared to succeed in the subject’s subsequent courses. If so, you earn credit for the course without actually taking the course. The advantage to earning proficiency credit is that, if you decide to continue studying the subject, you can skip the lower-level course and begin studying at a higher level. Even if you decide not to continue studying the subject, you will have that credit on your academic record, and it might fulfill a Gen Ed requirement.
Academic credit is awarded on the basis of sufficiently high scores on the ACT English, the Advanced Placement (AP), the International Baccalaureate (IB), and certain Advanced Level (A-Level) exams as well as on the departmental proficiency tests which are administered on campus usually during the first week of classes in fall and spring semester.
AP and IB exams, as well as the ACT and the SAT, must be taken prior to enrolling in any college-level coursework! Your scores will be evaluated for credit when they are received, and any credit earned will be automatically posted to your academic record. Some AP scores earn elective credit, while others earn course credit. All credit counts towards graduation.
In compliance with the amendment to the State of Illinois “College and Career Success for All Students” Act, Advanced Placement test scores of 3, 4, and 5 will be accepted for credit to satisfy degree requirements effective for incoming undergraduate students enrolling in the 2016-2017 academic year. Depending on the exam and the score, the credit earned will translate either as elective credit or as specific course credit. Click here for our FAQ about the new Illinois law concerning AP exams.
Last summer the “College and Career Success for All Students” Act was further amended such that, beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, International Baccalaureate scores of 4, 5, 6, and 7 will be accepted for credit as well. Depending on the exam and the score, the credit earned will translate either as elective credit or as specific course credit. The new IB policies will be announced later this spring.
Placement testing and proficiency testing have two very different purposes. Incoming students who do well on a math, science, or LOTE placement test will qualify for – and may wish to consider taking – a departmental proficiency test.
New students are NOT REQUIRED to register for and take an on-campus departmental proficiency test just because their placement test score qualifies them to take it. It is simply an option to consider. Continuing students who have not yet earned college-level credit in a subject may also register for its departmental proficiency exam. Departmental proficiency tests are usually given at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. Usually you are allowed to attempt a departmental proficiency exam only once, but for some exams you are allowed to attempt it twice. Given that different departments have different policies, you should always check with the department first.
If you score high enough on a departmental proficiency exam to earn credit, the department will inform the Registrar to record it on your academic record. You do not need to do anything more. Credit earned will be reflected on your DARS report. Your grade for the test will be "PS" which means "pass." PS grades are not included in GPA calculations.
If you do not score high enough on a departmental proficiency exam to earn credit, you should contact the department that administered the test to find out your score and your course enrollment options.
To learn about specific proficiency exams and course credit, click on a link below.