Academic Background and Placements

As part of the admissions process, first-year applicants to the University are required to submit their SAT scores and their high school academic records for evaluation. Prior to students' first semester/session, they participate in New Student Orientation (NSO). During the testing component of this program, students take a placement test in mathematics. Students who might take chemistry courses also take a chemistry placement test.

When a student's testing is completed, the Division of Undergraduate Studies creates an individualized report called the student's Academic Background and Placements. This report--based on the student's high school record, SAT scores, and scores on the Penn State placement test(s)--is reviewed in detail with students at NSO. Each report contains the individual student's test results and placement actions. In addition, the report includes data on the student's past academic performance as well as the range of first-year grades earned by last year's cohort of students. This information is provided to help new students prepare for success in Penn State's academic environment.

Students should not schedule English, mathematics, or chemistry courses without first reviewing the placement actions and recommendations with an academic adviser. Copies of a student's Academic Background and Placement report are available from the appropriate deans' offices, from the NSO office at University Park, 814-865-2578, and from the directors of academic affairs at campuses other than University Park. At the start of the first semester/session in which the student is enrolled, his/her placement actions also become available to students and advisers on eLion in the Placement Test application. The Help document that accompanies this application provides details.

Detailed information about course selection is available at:

For additional information concerning course scheduling based on placement actions and recommendations, contact the appropriate office: Program in Writing and Rhetoric, 102 South Burrowes Building, University Park, 814-863-3066, Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 104 McAllister Building, University Park, 814-865-7528, Undergraduate Chemistry Office, 210 Whitmore Lab, University Park, 814-865-9391.

For additional information regarding the use of Academic Backgrounds and Placements for advising and program planning, contact the Division of Undergraduate Studies at 814-865-7576.


Last Update: March 2013