Procedures: Credit by Exam and Departmental Placement Examinations

A summary of the procedures and practices supporting the policies.

Policies

Credit by Exam

Credit by Exam

Policy Number

UW-1005

Responsible Office

Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research

Type

University Policy

Rationale/​Purpose

Students may acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies through a variety of experiences that are academic in nature but may not necessarily correspond to a setting in which UW–Madison awards traditional credit. Credit by examination is one opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of material that is equivalent to what would be learned in a specific UW–Madison course.

The opportunity for students to earn credit by exam has several benefits for both students and the university:

  • Students will have a low-cost option for earning credit for skills and knowledge they already possess.
  • Students will have the opportunity to quickly move on to more challenging and enriching courses.
  • The university will benefit by freeing up seats in courses that are in demand and by supporting timely progress to degree.

Policy

  1. Courses Available for Credit by Exam
    1. A list of courses that offer credit by exam is available in the Credit by Examination section of the Guide.
  2. Student Eligibility
    1. To be eligible for credit by exam, a student must:
      1. Be classified as a degree-seeking student; and
      2. Be in good academic standing with no holds on their record; and
      3. Satisfy all prerequisites prior to attempting credit by exam for the course; and
      4. Take a separate exam (or set of assessments) for each course in which credit is sought.
  3. Credit Limitations
    1. Credits earned by exam do not count toward the credit residency requirements for a degree.
    2. Students may not attempt an exam for credit for any course they are enrolled in or were previously enrolled in at UW–Madison beyond the add deadline.
    3. Students may not take credit by exam for a specific course more than once.
    4. Students may not earn credit by exam for a course or course equivalent for which they have previously been awarded credit.
    5. No student may attempt credit by exam in a course that is a prerequisite, stated or implied, for an advanced course in the same subject for which credit has already been earned, without approval from the academic unit offering the course.
    6. Native speakers of a language cannot earn credit by exam in that language. For UW–Madison, the native language is defined as the language of instruction at the student's secondary school.
    7. Undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to take exams for credit prior to earning 90 degree credits (including the semester in which the 90th credit is earned) to avoid complications with the residence requirement.
  4. Credits on Student Record
    1. Credit by exam will be posted as ‘Other Credit’ and will reflect the specific course for which the student earns credit.
    2. The Office of the Registrar will post credits earned through exam to the student record within 10 days of receiving a completed credit by exam form from an academic unit.
    3. Credits earned will be posted to the student's transcript only if the student successfully completes the requirements for the exam.
      1. If the attempt for credit by exam is unsuccessful, no record of the attempt will be noted on the student’s transcript.
      2. The course credits will be posted to the term that corresponds with the date the exam is completed.
    4. Course credit earned via exam does not carry grade points and does not factor into the grade-point average.
    5. Course credit earned via exam does not factor into course load which determines whether the student is full-time or part-time.
  5. Academic Unit Requirements
    1. It is the responsibility of each academic unit to determine which courses are eligible for credit by exam.
      1. There is no requirement or expectation for credit by exam, but if credit by exam will be offered for a course, the academic unit must follow these policy guidelines.
    2. It is incumbent upon the academic unit offering credit by exam to confirm a student’s eligibility as outlined in Section II. Once a student has been granted permission to take the exam, they will be considered eligible to receive credit accordingly, and the academic unit cannot reverse its decision.
    3. Faculty will determine the standards, methods, and procedures for evaluation.
      1. Academic units may use any evaluation method or combination of methods including:
        1. Written examination
        2. Oral examination
        3. Performance evaluation (practical exam)
        4. Other methods consistent with the evaluation of student learning in the corresponding regular course
    4. The content, quality, and quantity of material in the examination for credit must be consistent with what is covered in the specific UW–Madison course for which the exam is intended to provide credit.
      1. The method of evaluation must be like the standard method used in the equivalent course (e.g., a dance course with a performance as the final exam is to include some type of performance evaluation, a writing-intensive course is not to use a multiple-choice exam format, etc.).
      2. Some courses that use particular pedagogies and/or have certain attributes, like Communication B, may not be appropriate for awarding credit by exam.
    5. The exam must be available to all eligible students regardless of how they acquired the skills, knowledge, or competencies.
    6. To pass the exam, the student must demonstrate a clear mastery of the course material, and student performance must be at a sufficient level that they are well prepared for higher-level work in that field of study.
    7. If a course is cross-listed, all cross-listed units must agree on an examination and select one academic unit to administer all examinations for the course.
  6. Approval to Offer Credit by Exam
    1. Before offering credit by exam for a specific course, an academic unit must obtain approval to do so.
      1. The Lumen Exam Proposal Form must be submitted and approved prior to a student taking the exam.
      2. The credit by exam approval process follows the same approval steps as a course proposal where the academic unit that owns the subject listing reviews and approves, then if there are any cross-listed subjects they must review and approve. The school/college(s) then review and approve. If the course is numbered 300+ the proposal will also be reviewed by Graduate School administration. The University Curriculum Committee is the final step of the approval process.
    2. Once a course is approved for credit by exam, it will be added to a master list of all courses available for credit by exam in Guide. This process serves as the only avenue for awarding credit other than by offering for-credit courses.
      1. Academic units are expected to review and assess all credit by exam opportunities on an ongoing basis to ensure exams continue to match the content of courses.
      2. Anytime a course is changed through the course change proposal process, the exam must be updated to ensure it remains aligned with the learning outcomes of the course.
      3. If credit by exam for a course goes unused for five years, it will be removed from the approved list.
  7. Administration of the Exam
    1. Exams must be administered and/or supervised by a member of the faculty or academic staff.
    2. The examination of the student must take place after the student has matriculated as a degree seeking student.
    3. The academic unit is responsible for validating the identity of the student prior to administering the exam by using a government-issued document with a photo, or the Wiscard.
    4. The academic unit must submit a Credit by Exam Form to the Office of the Registrar within seven business days of scoring the exam/evaluation for any student who attempts credit by exam, even if the attempt is not successful.
      1. The Office of the Registrar will process the form and archive it with the student’s record.
      2. The official student record serves as a record of all credit by exam attempts and will allow for the enforcement of the single attempt rule.
  8. Fees
    1. The fee for each exam is $135 and is credited to the academic unit offering the exam; they may assess a lower fee of $75 or $100 as noted on the Lumen Exam Proposal Form. Academic units may choose to waive the fee but must do so according to consistent, equitable standards.
    2. The fee must be paid prior to attempting an exam.
      1. The fee is not refundable.
      2. The academic unit offering the exam is responsible for verifying that the fee has been paid.
    3. The fee is waived for Banner, FASTrack, Bucky’s Tuition Promise, and Pell students.
    4. The fee must be paid using the CASHNet system. The Bursar’s Office will provide support with setup and reconciliation.
    5. The fee will be reviewed annually by the Office of Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research.

Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources

Approval Authority

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Policy Manager

Vice Provost for Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research

Contact

Associate Director, Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research -- Michelle Young, MEYOUNG@WISC.EDU, (608) 262-2143

Effective Date

06-18-2017
Source: View policy UW-1005 in the UW-Madison Policy Library

Departmental Placement Examinations

Placement by UW System or Departmental Test

Policy Number

UW-1014

Responsible Office

Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research

Type

University Policy

Rationale/​Purpose

This policy defines standards for placement tests at UW-Madison.

Policy

Overview and Context

Each student enrolled at UW-Madison arrives with a unique set of skills and academic preparation. Placement tests, whether required by the UW System or offered by academic departments, assist advisors in assessing a student’s academic preparation and selecting appropriate courses.

The placement test is a systematic, documented way for a student to demonstrate the academic knowledge, skills or experience required at a level that replaces enrollment in a requisite for-credit course. Placement test scores are recorded in the Student Information System (SIS) and can be used to meet course requisites.

Consistent with UW policy and federal and state law, students with disabilities who are eligible for test accommodations on standard class exams are also eligible for accommodations on UW System and departmental placement tests unless doing so fundamentally alters the nature of the test or lowers a program standard.

  1. UW System Placement Tests

    The Office of Admissions and Recruitment is responsible for notifying new first-year students of requirements for placement tests while the Office of the Registrar is responsible for notifying new transfer students of requirements for placement tests.

    1. Math Placement Test (Math B)

      This test is required for an undergraduate student who is:

      • Admitted as a first-year student; or
      • Admitted as a transfer student and (one of the following):
        • Has not previously completed the UW System math placement test (Math B if taken after March 2023)
        • Has not earned credit for the UW-Madison direct equivalent of (one of the following):
          • MATH 96 Preparatory Algebra
          • MATH 112 Algebra
          • MATH 114 Algebra and Trigonometry
          • MATH 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
          • MATH 211 Survey of Calculus I
          • MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
          • MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
          • MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
          • MATH 234 Calculus-Functions of Several Variables

      It is assumed that a transfer student with one of the direct equivalent MATH courses in progress at the time of admission will successfully complete the course and will not be required to take the placement test. If the student does not complete or pass the course, the student may be required to take the placement test to demonstrate minimum math proficiency.

      A student who wishes to retake the Math Placement Test must submit a request through the current established process. If granted, one retest will be allowed. The best placement, based on the scores from a single administration of the test, will be used.

      Math Placement Test Score Matrix

    2. English Placement Test

      There are two tests used to determine the placement of a student into courses focused on the development of skills needed for success in college-level communications:

      UW English Placement Test (UWEPT)

      This test is required for students admitted to undergraduate degree-granting programs who are (one of the following):

      • Admitted as a first-year student and is not required to take the UW-Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test (MSNESLAT; see next section); or
      • Admitted as a transfer student, and is not required to take the MSNESLAT, and
        • Has not previously completed the UW System English placement test, and
        • Has not earned credit for the UW-Madison equivalent of a Communication A course.

      A student who wishes to retake the UW English Placement Test must submit a request to the UW-Madison English Department Director of ENGL 100. The director will evaluate the request and grant one retest if circumstances give reason to question the original score.

      UW English Placement Test Score Matrix

      UW-Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test (MSNESLAT)

      This test is required for an undergraduate student who must submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Duolingo English Test (DET) score for admission to UW-Madison.

      First-year applicants educated in non-English speaking countries must submit an official TOEFL, IELTS, or DET score, unless English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school. Transfer applicants may have the test waived if English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school or a college-level English composition course was successfully completed at an accredited US institution. This requirement will not be waived for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or A-level scores.

      The MSNESLAT is designed to evaluate English language proficiency, and to place a student into English as a Second Language courses that focus on written and spoken English used in academic contexts. A student who takes the MSNESLAT and obtains a score of less than 99 (Exempt) must satisfy the university’s expectation of college-level English language proficiency by completing ESL 118, Academic Writing II.

      A student enrolled in an English as a Second Language course will be retested on the first day of class and at the end of each semester, and in rare cases receive a revised placement.

      UW English as a Second Language Placement Test Score Matrix

    3. Language (French, German, and Spanish) Placement Tests

      A first-year student with previous experience in French, German, or Spanish or a transfer student without transfer credit in the language who plans to enroll in one or more of these languages must take a placement test to qualify for enrollment in courses beyond the entry level language course.

      French Placement Test Matrix

      German Placement Test Matrix

      Spanish Placement Test Matrix

      A student who wishes to retake a UW Language Placement Test must submit a request to the Spanish, French, or German departmental advisor. The advisor will evaluate the request and grant one retest if it is determined unexpected circumstances yielded poor results. The most recent results will be used for placement.

    4. Changes to Placement Tests

      The Guide is the official source for who must take a specific placement test and how placement test scores equate to course placement. Changes that impact who takes placement tests or how placement test scores equate to course placements must be proposed and approved through governance. Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research will coordinate the proposal and approval process.

  2. UW-Madison Department Placement Tests

    Academic units that offer a sequence of courses may choose to propose and offer a placement test to determine which course in the sequence is an appropriate starting point for an individual student.

    Approved placement tests appear in Guide.

    1. Eligibility and Limitations

      A student must be classified as a degree-seeking undergraduate student to take a placement test.

      Credits are not awarded for departmental placement tests.

      Departmental placement test results may not be used to fulfill any degree requirements.

      Departments may place limitations on the number of times a student may attempt a departmental placement test.

      Fees cannot be assessed for departmental placement tests.

    2. Department Requirements

      It is the responsibility of each department to determine whether placement tests are to be offered to students. There is no requirement or expectation for a department to offer placement tests. If a test is offered, the department must follow these requirements.

      A departmental placement test must cover material in lower-level courses up to the entry point for the course in sequence.

      Department faculty will determine the standards, methods, and procedures for evaluation.

      Departments may use any evaluation method or combination of methods including:

      • Written examination
      • Oral examination
      • Performance evaluation (practical exam)
      • Other methods consistent with evaluation of student learning in the discipline

      The content, quality and quantity of material covered in the departmental placement test must be determined by the department offering the placement test.

      If the department also offers credit by departmental exam, the department must clearly state whether each assessment is a departmental placement test (no credit awarded) or a departmental credit by exam (credit awarded).

      Once a departmental placement test is approved, the department must determine which course requisites are to be updated and request updates via the course proposal process. All course requisites utilizing the course(s) a student can "place out of" will be coded to include the placement score to meet the requisite.

      The department is responsible for assessing the performance of students who gain entry to a course based on the placement test to ensure they are as successful in the course as students who were eligible for the course based on enrollment in previous course work or other requirements.

    3. Approval to Offer a Placement Test

      A department must submit a proposal which addresses the Department Requirements in Section III via the Lumen Exam Proposal System. The department must have the approval of the school or college and the University Curriculum Committee prior to offering any departmental placement tests.

      As part of the proposal process, the department will determine for creation of the appropriate test information in the Student Information System (SIS):

      • A description of the departmental placement test, not to exceed 30-characters.
      • A score range that will be assigned to students (a minimum and a maximum score is required).

      The department must determine how the departmental placement test scores will correspond to course placement (e.g., if the score range is between 1-5, the department must indicate which score must be obtained for placement into a specific course).

      Once a departmental placement test is approved it will be listed on a master list of all available placement exams in Guide.

      The department is expected to regularly review and assess each placement test to ensure the test continues to match the content of the course. If the equivalent requisite course is changed through the course change proposal process, the placement test must be reviewed to ensure it remains aligned with the learning outcomes of the course. If a placement test is not used for three years, it will be removed from the list of approved tests.

    4. Administration of Test

      A departmental placement test must be administered and/or supervised by a member of the faculty or academic staff.

      The department is responsible for validating the identity of each student prior to administering the exam, by verifying the student’s identity (e.g., authenticating the student via log in with UW NetID, or via review of the student’s Wiscard).

      The department is responsible for determining whether the student is eligible to take the test before administering it. If the department administers a test to a student, it is assumed that they have verified both the student’s eligibility and identity. Once approval has been granted to administer a departmental placement test and the set-up in the SIS is complete, the department will submit scores via the Departmental Placement Exam Form. The Office of the Registrar must receive the test results within 7 business days of scoring for all students who attempted the placement test, even for attempts that are not successful.

      Any course requisites built to use the departmental placement test score for course enrollment eligibility must specify the score required.

Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources

Approval Authority

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Policy Manager

Vice Provost for Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research

Contact

Associate Director, Data, Academic Planning & Institutional Research -- Michelle Young, MEYOUNG@WISC.EDU, (608) 262-2143

Effective Date

05-10-2019
Source: View policy UW-1014 in the UW-Madison Policy Library

Procedures

The Lumen Exam Proposal system is used to propose new or make changes to existing placement or credit by exams. Placement exams offered by UW System (Mathematics, English, Spanish, German and French) are not included, and are not updated in Lumen Exams.

Implementation

An approved exam (credit or placement) can be effective dated (i.e. first offered) in the next term that has not yet started. The default term for implementation is fall.

A list of the departmental placement exams and credit by exam offerings are centrally located in the Guide front matter, which updates once a year (no mid-cycle updates) to coincide with the June 1 publication. Revisions to program proposals to include departmental placement exams would not be part of a mid-cycle update.

Requisites

Once a placement exam has been fully approved it can be used to meet course requisites. Existing course requisites may be impacted by the creation of a placement exam. Existing requisites will be updated according to course change deadlines.

The Office of the Registrar and Data, Academic Planning and Institutional Research (DAPIR) will review catalog-level requisites and update any that include a course that is part of the sequence of courses covered by the placement exam.  A spreadsheet with the list of requisites that are updated will be uploaded to the proposal.

No new effective date will be added to the course catalog; the requirement group (this is the text that is shown in a course entry as well as the logic that enforces the requisite) is updated with the changes.

The Standard Requisites spreadsheet Exams/Testing worksheet will be updated with the new placement exam.

DAPIR emails school/college partners providing a list of courses where the requisites were updated with the effective term.

Setting fees

Credit by Exam

    • The academic unit offering the exam may choose to charge a fee.
    • The standard rate for the credit by exam fee is $135 and is credited to the academic unit offering the exam.  Academic units may choose to assess a lower fee of $75 or $100.  The fee is set as part of the Lumen Exam Proposal Form.
    • Academic units may choose to waive the fee but must do so according to consistent, equitable standards.
    • The fee must be paid prior to attempting an exam.
    • The fee is not refundable.
    • The academic unit offering the exam is responsible for verifying that the fee has been paid.
    • The fee is waived for Banner, FASTrack, Bucky’s Tuition Promise, and Pell students.
    • The fee must be paid using the CASHNet system. The Bursar’s Office will provide support with setup and reconciliation. 

Departmental Placement Exams

    • Students are not charged a fee for placement exams. 

Reporting results

Authorized users must use this form to report all attempts to earn credit by departmental exam and departmental placement exam results, whether passed or failed, to the Office of the Registrar within seven business days of scoring the exam.

The Office of the Registrar processes the form and archive it with the student’s record.

The official student record serves as a record of all credit by exam attempts and will allow for the enforcement of the single attempt rule.

If you have questions or believe you should be an authorized user, contact registrar@em.wisc.edu.



KeywordsCredit by exam, Department placement examinations, exams, credit by exam fees   Doc ID128210
OwnerMelissa S.GroupAcademic Planning
Created2023-05-09 16:01:33Updated2024-06-26 13:53:00
SitesAcademic Planning, Lumen and Guide
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