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Writing Assessment and Placement Tests

Writing Assessment

The Summer 2023 Writing Assessment is closed. This page will be updated for the Summer 2024 Writing Assessment in July 2024.

About the Assessment

All new Whitman students are expected to complete the Summer Writing Assessment online as part of the registration process. Students compose a 250-word writing sample in response to a prompt, and Whitman writing faculty review each sample, at least twice, in an anonymized evaluation process. 

You’ve been admitted to Whitman, so we recognize that you’re already a capable writer. The assessment’s goal is to determine how each student will fulfill the college’s requirement in writing proficiency in a manner that best prepares them to write skillfully at the college level. Some students will have transfer or equivalency credit that fulfills this college requirement. Many students will join the Writing Program of the Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse (RWPD) department by enrolling in RWPD 170. 

RWPD 170 supports entering students and strengthens their writing skills for success across Whitman’s academic programs. Students will join an award-winning program taught by faculty dedicated to teaching, writing, student relationships, and first-year students in particular. Historical data shows students who take RWPD 170 double their improvement in college-level writing skills in comparison with students who do not take RWPD 170. 

Students who do not complete the Summer Writing Assessment will be designated as not having started the College’s requirement in writing proficiency. 

Note: Reminders and instructions for the Summer Writing Assessment will be sent to your Whitman email.

Placement Tests

Students interested in taking calculus, chemistry and foreign language courses at Whitman College are advised to take a placement exam in order to register for the correct course. It's highly recommended that students complete the tool before finalizing their Fall registration plans, because the results may affect what courses they should take. The placement tool is required to be completed before registration for any General Chemistry course. Please review requirements and access the placement exam links below.

If you need accommodations for any of the placement exams, please get in touch with the Academic Resource Center by email at dss@whitman.edu.

The Chemistry Program has three tracks of Introductory Chemistry; which track you pursue depends on your interest and the other courses you have taken in the subject.

Track 3 is for students who are considering a major outside of the sciences, and Track 1 and Track 2 are for students who are considering a major in Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB), Chemistry, Geology or pursuing a health career.

Note: One semester of an introductory course with lab from either Track 2 or 3 is recommended for students considering a Geology major. (See details about the tracks below.)

The chemistry placement tool is required for all students interested in either Track 2 or 3.

Chemistry Placement Tool

If you have any questions, contact Associate Professor Nate Boland at bolandne@whitman.edu or 509-527-5906, or Associate Professor Dalia Biswas at rohksad@whitman.edu or 509-527-5953.

AP and IB Credit: If you received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam or a score of 5, 6 or 7 on the IB Chemistry exam, you will receive three credits of general chemistry (CHEM 125) after Whitman College receives your exam report. Students cannot earn credit toward the CHEM 135 lab. All students, even those with AP or IB chemistry credit, are required to complete the chemistry placement test.

Track 1: These introductory courses, intended for students not majoring in the sciences, fulfill the science and the quantitative analysis distribution requirement. They introduce chemistry concepts in the context of applied disciplines. You may take either course for credit, but not both.

  • CHEM 100 - Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
  • CHEM 102 - The Chemistry of Art

Track 2: This is a yearlong sequence of introductory general chemistry for all majors, with the exception of geology (see note above). Introductory courses review foundational knowledge covered in a typical high school chemistry course but in more depth and introduce advanced concepts required for students majoring in a science discipline.

  • CHEM 111- Problem-Solving in Chemistry. This class is a co-requisite for CHEM 125, depending on your placement score.
  • CHEM 125 and 126 - General Chemistry I and II
  • CHEM 135 and 136 - General Chemistry Lab I and II

Track 3: Advanced general chemistry with lab (CHEM 140) is an accelerated one-semester course that covers introductory general chemistry concepts in greater detail and at a faster pace while building on the background material learned in high school. This course also introduces advanced topics that are not covered in our regular general chemistry sequence in Track 2.

  • CHEM 140 - Advanced General Chemistry Lecture and Lab

Whitman College offers courses in Chinese, French, German, Classical Greek, Japanese, Latin and Spanish, with majors in Chinese, Classics and Classical Studies, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, and South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as minors in each of these areas.

Students who have studied French, German, Japanese or Spanish must take a placement test before enrolling in a course in that language. It is not necessary to take the placement test if you are beginning a foreign language you have not previously studied.

You must activate your Whitman account before you can access the placement tests. The Registrar's Office will automatically receive your placement information and this will be used to allow you to register in the correct language level.

Foreign Languages Test

Students who need to take the Japanese placement exam should contact Associate Professor Yuki Shigeto at shigety@whitman.edu

Students interested in studying Chinese or Classics (Greek or Latin) can review language requirements for these courses below. There is no separate evaluation.

If you have questions or need assistance selecting the correct language course, contact:

Students interested in taking college-level calculus are encouraged to take the calculus placement exam. Calculus classes at Whitman limit or do not allow the use of calculators on exams, so your placement exam will be most accurate if you do not use a calculator.

Calculus placement exam

  • MATH 124 - Introduction to Calculus: This is the appropriate course for students who have not taken pre-calculus and are interested in a major that requires one or more calculus courses. This course is equivalent to MATH 125 - Calculus I (see below) in all ways, but meets more often so that students can learn the necessary pre-calculus skills while they learn calculus.
  • MATH 125 - Calculus I: This is the appropriate course for students who have never taken calculus and are interested in a major that requires one or more calculus courses. It is important that the student have a good background in precalculus skills as very little review of prerequisite material is provided.
  • MATH 126 - Calculus II:  Most students who earned a 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB exam are successful in this course. You will earn three credits on your transcript from your AP exam. Some of the topics in Math 126 on integration will be familiar, but most of the material on sequences and series will be new.
  • MATH 225 - Calculus III:  If you earned a 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC exam, you should enroll in this course. You will earn six credits on your transcript from your AP exam. Students who earned a 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB exam can take the placement exam to see if they are ready for Math 225. If you start in Math 225, you will receive only three credits on your transcript from the AP exam. However, successful completion of Math 225 means that you do not need to have credit for Math 126 on your transcript.

The results of your placement test are not binding. You may choose to enroll in a lower-level calculus course if you do not feel prepared for Calculus II or Calculus III, but then you will not be awarded the corresponding AP credit on your transcript. You must submit such a decision to the Whitman Registrar's Office via your Whitman email account.

If you are unsure which course is the best choice for you after taking the placement exam, contact Department of Mathematics and Statistics Chair Doug Hundley at hundledr@whitman.edu or chat with any member of the department during registration. If after the first week or so of classes, you decide that a different level of calculus is better suited for you, then you should not have trouble changing sections during the standard add/drop period.

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