The purpose of any proficiency test is to find out whether you have already got the knowledge and the skills that are taught in a particular Illinois course, even though you have not taken the course. If you do well on the proficiency test, you earn credit for the course, and it is assumed you are prepared to succeed in the subject’s subsequent courses. (Note: Most of the departmental language proficiency exams do not award credit, but strong performance does fulfill the General Education language requirement.)
Academic credit is awarded on the basis of sufficiently high scores on the ACT or SAT, the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, and certain Advanced Level (A-Level) exams. Sufficiently high scores on our departmental proficiency tests can also earn credit. Departmental tests are administered on campus usually the week before classes start or during the first week of classes in both the fall and the spring semesters.
AP and IB exams, as well as the ACT and the SAT, must be taken prior to enrolling in a college or university. 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 and IB scores earn elective credit, while others earn course credit. All credit counts towards graduation.
Placement testing and proficiency testing have two very different purposes. Incoming students who do well on a math, science, or "language other than English" placement test will learn which course they should start with for their first year at Illinois. They might also qualify for – and 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 particular subject may also register for departmental proficiency exams in that subject.
Departmental proficiency tests are usually given at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. Most departments allow you to try an exam only once, but there are a couple exams that you are allowed to try 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 -- and if the test you take awards academic credit (as opposed to only fulfilling a Gen Ed requirement) -- the department will inform your College to record it on your academic record. You do not need to do anything. Credit earned will be reflected on your DARS report. Please be patient, as this can take a few weeks to be processed. 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, your academic record is not affected. You can contact the department that administered the test to find out your score and your course enrollment options.
About the state law:
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 as well as International Baccalaureate test scores of 4, 5, 6, and 7 are accepted for credit to satisfy degree requirements. The AP law went into effect for incoming undergraduate students enrolling in the 2016-2017 academic year, while the IB law went into effect for incoming undergraduate students enrolling in the 2017-2018 academic year. Depending on the exam and the score, the credit earned will translate either as elective credit or as specific course credit.