Sample Course Placements

Related Topic: Course Placements (First-Year Writing, Math, Chemistry, and World Language)

Example view of a student's information in eLion.
999999999 Lion, Nittany [Highest score] [Highest score] [date printed]

All students admitted to Penn State have demonstrated the ability to succeed academically. A Penn State education is meant to help you become an independent learner. Therefore, you need to develop new study skills, refine time management strategies, and actively use learning resources in order to be successful at the collegiate level. It’s important for you to begin in the courses that match your readiness and are most likely to lead to success. 


All majors require ENGL 15 (Rhetoric and Composition), ESL 15 (Composition for American Academic Communication II), ENGL 30 (Honors Rhetoric and Composition), or ENGL/CAS 137H (Rhetoric and Civic Life I).

Your initial English composition placement is based on your SAT-Evidence-Based Reading exam score, and may be adjusted after conversation with an academic adviser. Most students will take ENGL 15. Students with strong writing preparation may choose an honors composition course. Students whose SAT-READ scores suggest gaps may need some extra support to be successful in ENGL 15.

Course recommendations based upon your SAT-READ scores.
SAT-READ score Placement
None Consult with an adviser
200-419* Schedule ENGL 4 before scheduling ENGL 15
420-519* Schedule ENGL 15 or ENGL 4
520-679* Schedule ENGL 15
680-800* Schedule ENGL 15 or honors composition (e.g. ENGL 30)

*Students with scores that are near the placement cutoffs should consult with an academic adviser before selecting a course.


The ALEKS Math Assessment evaluates your readiness to take college-level quantification courses. Most science/engineering programs require MATH 140, while some liberal arts/professional programs (particularly business-focused programs) require MATH 110.

The chart below will help you understand your placement and determine your readiness level. You will not be permitted to take a course that is above your demonstrated readiness level.

Decisions about appropriate quantification (GQ) courses should be discussed with your adviser.

Chart for determining quantification level based on ALEKS score

You may use the ALEKS learning modules to improve your skills and retake the assessment if you wish to place into a higher-level course. You have access to ALEKS until the end of the drop/add period of your first semester (excluding summer). You can access the ALEKS learning modules in LionPATH. See


Many science, engineering, and health-focused programs require CHEM 110. CHEM 110 is a rigorous course involving significant mathematical manipulation and algebra proficiency. If you have no previous chemistry studies, begin with CHEM 101. If you have gaps in math and/or chemistry preparation, you need additional preparation before taking CHEM 110. Additional evaluation may be done during the beginning of the semester.

What courses might you take?
ALEKS score No high school chemistry course Chemistry in 9th or 10th grade or chemistry more than two (2) years ago Chemistry in 11th or 12th grade, Honors chemistry, or AP chemistry

60% or less

CHEM 101

MATH 22, then CHEM 110 + CHEM 108*

MATH 22, then CHEM 110

61% or higher

CHEM 101

CHEM 110

CHEM 110

*Any students who feel their chemistry preparation may be weak should consider also scheduling CHEM 108.

Last Update: April 2016