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Subject Placement Tests

Subject-area placement tests and challenge exams are offered to new students during Threshold and/or the first week of classes each semester. Some exams may be completed through individually scheduled appointments. The challenge exams North Park currently offers are listed below.

Guidelines and policies for subject placement tests and challenge exams are subject to change without notification.

Foreign Language Challenge Exam

In order to fulfill the foreign language requirement at North Park, you will need to decide if you want to continue in a language previously studied or know, or begin a new language. You must be proficient through the 1020 level to meet the foreign language Core Curriculum requirement.

Foreign language challenge exams measure whether you have the language skills equivalent to students who have taken first-year university foreign languages at the 1010 and/or 1020 levels. Learn more about the options for these challenge examinations.

Math Challenge Exam

Math placement depends on the your ACT/SAT math subscore as well as the intended major. Based on these factors you may need to take prerequisite courses prior to fulfilling the Core Curriculum and/or major requirements. 

When you register for the first time at North Park, you will be informed of your math placement based on the above criteria. You may choose to challenge the math placement by taking the Math Challenge Test. You may not test backwards and place into a lower level course. The Math Challenge Test is offered during Threshold Week and/or at the beginning of each semester. To take the Math Challenge Exam at a time other than the beginning of each semester, you will need to contact the Math Department.

Courses that fulfill the math Core Curriculum requirement are:

  • STAT 1490
  • MATH 1030
  • Any math course higher than MATH 1030

Guidelines and policies are subject to change without notification.

Music: Fundamental Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement

All incoming freshman who intend to major, minor, or take a concentration in music, or non-majors who are interested in taking music theory, are required to take the Fundamental Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement. This placement tool assesses rudimentary music theory and aural skills concepts such as reading pitches in treble and bass clefs, basic rhythmic patterns, understanding rhythm and meter, the major scales, and major key signatures.

Any student with a score under the requirement for MUS 1080 (Introduction to Musicianship) placement will be required to take MUS 1060 and/or MUS 1065 (Fundamentals of Music Theory), which are a prerequisite to MUS 1080. Students who score exceptionally well may be asked to take our Advanced Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement.

The placement takes approximately 30 minutes and is offered twice in the early spring, in conjunction with our entrance auditions, during Threshold Week, and by appointment. To schedule a time to take this placement, please contact Dr. Rebecca Ryan at (773) 244-5623.

Music: Advanced Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement

All transfer students (and any first year students who wish to test out of MUS 1080: Introduction to Musicianship) who intend to major, minor, or take a concentration in music are required to take this placement for theory and aural skills. Additionally, first year students who score exceptionally well on the Fundamental Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement may be asked to take the Advanced Music Theory and Aural Skills Placement for the opportunity to place higher in our music theory and aural skills course sequence. The placement is comprised of three sections:

  • Written Aural Skills Placement (1.5 hours): Content covered will include material from MUS 1080 through Aural Skills IV (intervals, rhythmic dictation, melodic dictation, harmonic dictation, triad and 7th qualities, 4-part dictation, etc.)
  • Individual Aural Skills Placement (20–30 min. individual time slots): Content covered will include material from MUS 1080 through Aural Skills IV (matching pitch, interval singing, sight singing melodies, reading rhythms, scale singing, scale degree identification, harmonic progressions, etc.)
  • Written Theory Placement (2 hours): Content covered will include theory material from MUS 1080 through Theory IV (scales, key signatures, intervals, triads, sevenths, V7 and viio7 resolutions, chord qualities, inversions, figured bass, lead chart symbols, non-chord tones, roman numeral analysis, cadences, modes, transposition, four part harmonic analysis, secondary functions, chorale analysis, etc.)

This placement and a music transcript evaluation are required before you can register for theory and/or aural skills classes however, for registration purposes, students may be temporarily registered for placeholders until evaluation and a placement has been completed.

This placement is offered twice a year, during fall and spring Threshold. Those who need this placement must take it when it is scheduled; no individual appointments for this placement are available. To sign up for this placement, please contact Dr. Rebecca Ryan at (773) 244-5623.

Music: Keyboard Skills Placement

All first-year and transfer students who intend to major, minor, or take a concentration in music are required to take a keyboard placement test. Placements are offered in the spring, in conjunction with our entrance auditions, during Threshold, and by appointment.

The keyboard placement test will consist of a short (5 to 10 minute) consultation to evaluate correct placement in Keyboard Skills courses. Students will be asked to play scales, chords, and perform sight-reading—levels of which will be based on conversations with the evaluator.

For registration purposes, students may be temporarily placed in Keyboard Skills level I or II until a music transcript evaluation and a placement test has been completed.

To schedule a time to complete your keyboard placement, please contact Dr. Terree Shofner-Emrich at (773) 244-5632. Non-majors interested in piano lessons and keyboard skills courses should also contact Dr. Shofner-Emrich.

Music: Applied Voice Placement

All students registered for voice lessons, or interested in taking lessons, are required to meet with Dr. Karen Bauer for teacher placement. Placements are offered during Threshold and can be scheduled by contacting Dr. Bauer at (773) 244-5626. Placements must be completed before the end of the first week of class.

Music: Ensemble Auditions

Any student interested in auditioning for a choral or instrumental ensemble should sign up for an audition during Threshold in Hanson Hall. Auditions will be held during the first week of class. Learn more.

Writing Challenge Exam

You are allowed to take the Writing Challenge Exam if you wish to challenge placement in WRIT 1000. Placement in a WRIT 1000 course is based on the following criteria:

NPU Course

Test Score

WRIT 1000 ACT English subscore is 18 or below
SAT English subscore is 410 or below

No additional course is needed

ACT English subscore is 19 or higher
SAT English subscore is 420 or higher

WRIT 1000 is a prerequisite for the Core Curriculum requirement, NPD 1000: Cornerstone Seminar. Students must earn a minimum of C- in WRIT 1000 order to enroll in NPD 1000.