Writing Assessment

A key component of a Whitman education is being able to articulate complex ideas in writing. As part of New Student Orientation all new students will participate in a writing exercise. 

The writing sample will be evaluated by instructors of Whitman’s course Language and Writing (RWPD 170). This class helps Whitman students at all levels to strengthen their writing skills in order to best be successful in all academic areas of the College. Writing faculty will evaluate the essays to identify students who would benefit from additional writing assistance.

As you prepare for the assessment, please make sure that you have a place to work uninterrupted for 20 minutes. Just find a quiet spot, relax and do your best. When you meet with your advisor, they will inform you of your placement results and whether you will be enrolled in RWPD 170. 

Questions about the writing assessment? Please contact Senior Associate Dean of Students Juli Dunn at dunnjl@whitman.edu

If you need accommodations for this writing evaluation or any of the department placement exams, please contact Antonia Keithahn in the Academic Resource Center by email at keithaam@whitman.edu or call 509-527-5767.

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. These tests are available online and should be taken by July 15. Please review requirements and access the placement exam links below.

The Chemistry Department 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 1 is for students who are considering a major outside of the sciences, and Tracks 2 and 3 are for students who are considering a major in biology, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology (BBMB), chemistry, geology or pursuing a health career. The chemistry placement test is required for all students interested in either Track 2 or 3. One semester of an introductory course with lab from either Track 2 or 3 is recommended for students considering a geology major. If you have any questions, contact Associate Professor Nate Boland at bolandne@whitman.edu or 509-527-5906, or Associate Professor Tim Machonkin at machonte@whitman.edu or 509-527-5799. 

Learn more and access the chemistry placement test.

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 Arabic (first year only), 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.

Learn more and access the 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.

Learn more and access the calculus placement exam.

  • 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 Russ Gordon at gordon@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.