Previous Credit or Exemptions Granted

Including college credit completed while in high school, exemptions, Advanced Placement (AP)

The Cornell College Catalogue contains information about transfer and examination credits (see the sections Credit by Transfer and Exemption, Advanced Placement, and Credit by Examination listed under Academic Information). During Orientation, you will receive notification of the credit you have earned. It is important, therefore, that you arrange for test results, college transcripts, and similar documents to be sent to Cornell during the summer so that they can be evaluated prior to your arrival on campus. You may earn Cornell credit by examination if:

  • you earned scores of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement (AP) examinations (though no exemption for a score of 3 in Biology, Chemistry, English Language, English Literature, Environmental Science, Physics C, or Statistics). Here is a chart to help you determine your placement, credits, and the courses from which you have been exempted. A score of 3 usually merits exemption, and scores of 4 or 5 usually entitle you to one or two course credits as indicated in the "Credit" column. Be sure to have an official AP Score Report sent to Cornell.
  • you earned college or university credit with grades of C or better in liberal arts courses while in high school, or will earn such credits this summer. Be sure to have an official transcript from the college or university granting the credit sent to Cornell.
  • you have completed Oxford and Cambridge A-Level Examinations or their equivalents. Be sure to have official results sent to Cornell.
  • you earned scores of 5 or higher on International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations. A chart to help you determine your placement, credits, and core equivalencies from which you have been exempted.

If you qualify for advanced placement credit, you are exempt from the introductory-level Cornell course(s) in that subject and may take a higher-level course in that subject if your advisor approves. Note, however, that you will lose your credit by examination or transfer credit if you take the same or a similar course at Cornell. If you are in doubt, confer with the appropriate department chair as to whether you have already completed a similar course.


Prior to orientation, students take online placement examinations for foreign languages, and examinations for credit in calculus and placement in chemistry. In addition, when you and your advisor meet during Orientation, he or she will have a copy of your math placement recommendation. This recommendation, from the Cornell Mathematics Department, will assist you in selecting the math course most appropriate for you.

Foreign Language Placement Examinations

Who must take these placement tests?

All entering students, including transfer students, who have studied French, German, Latin, Russian, or Spanish must take the Foreign Language Placement Test.

Do I have to take the recommended course?

No. Your placement is only a suggestion. If you wish to continue but feel uncomfortable about starting at the level recommended, you may begin with a lower-level course.

If I choose to take the recommended course, do I have to take it immediately or in my first year?

You may take it at any time during your Cornell career; however, the longer you wait, the more likely it will be that you may forget what you had learned and the more difficult it may be for you to catch up.

What if I don't do well on the exam, or receive a low placement?

Your grade and placement will not be recorded on your transcript, nor will your grade point average be affected. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

Do I receive credit if I pass the foreign language placement test?

No. This test does not award any credit.  If you place in 103, you need take only one credit of a foreign language instead of the three required of those who begin their language with 101 and need to take 101,  102 and 103.  If you place in a 205 or higher, you still need to earn credit for one college level language course at the 103 level or higher.

What if I have studied two or more foreign languages?

Take the exam in the language that you plan to continue at Cornell.

What if I don't plan to continue a foreign language previously studied?

Take the exam anyway. If you later decide to continue, your placement or exemption will be on file for use then.


Chemistry Placement Test

Who should take the chemistry placement test?

Students who plan to study chemistry, biology, engineering, or prepare for a health-related profession should take the chemistry placement test. The chemistry department uses this test to place students into CHE 121-122 (Chemical Principles I and II) or CHE 161 (Accelerated General Chemistry), or to recommend a math review prior to CHE 121.

If you scored a 5 on the chemistry AP test, you do not need to take the chemistry placement test; you will receive credit for CHE 161. If you scored a 4, plan to enroll in CHE 161 without taking the placement test. If you scored a 3 or lower (or did not take the chemistry AP test), take the placement test.

If you are interested in taking a single chemistry course as part of your general education, plan to take CHE 111 (Chemistry in the Natural World - not offered every year). You do not need to take the placement test.

Questions? Contact Prof. Cindy Strong (


Music Placement Test

Who should take the music placement test?

If you have a WFK or Trustee Music scholarship, or if you plan to major or minor in music, you should take the music placement test. The music faculty use this test to place students into the Music Theory sequence (5 courses for majors and 3 courses for minors), or into Fundamentals of Music (MUS 101) as a refresher before beginning the theory sequence.

The music placement exam is being offered at the same time as the calculus credit exam and the chemistry placement test. If the math department has recommended that you take the calculus credit exam, please take it first, and then come to the music exam afterwards to schedule a makeup exam. If you are interested in taking the chemistry exam, however, please take the music exam first. Contact Prof. Cindy Strong (x4316) to schedule another time to take the chemistry exam.

If you have questions, please contact Prof. Jama Stilwell (x4229 or email jstilwell)