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Competency and Placement Exam Information

Welcome to Simmons!
This information is very important for all incoming students: traditional first years, transfers, and Dix Scholars. Please read through carefully. Any questions that you may have should be directed to the Center for Academic Achievement either via phone at 617.521.2474 or via email at


If you need any of the material being sent to you converted to an alternative format, please contact our Disability Services Office by calling 617.521.2474. You can also email the Director of Disability Services, Timothy Rogers, at

Placement Exams

Language Placement Exam

Students who wish to begin studying a new language do not need to take a placement exam. They may simply enroll into the 101 course in their language of choice. All students who wish to continue taking a language that they have previously studied must take a placement exam to ensure that they are in the appropriate level. Students who feel that they want to place out of the language requirement must take a proctored placement exam on campus.

Placement exams for French and Spanish are now being offered via the web throughout the summer. These exams are for PLACEMENT ONLY. Students may not test out or exempt themselves from the language requirement by taking an on-line test. Those students who feel that they would be able to test out or exempt themselves from the language requirement must take a proctored exam on campus. There are placement exams offered during June, September and January Orientations.

Students wishing to take the French and Spanish exams can use the password included in their adviser contact email (or contact the CAA for the password) please go to the following web page. this link is to WebCAPE Foreign Language
Placement Exam.

Placement exams for Mandarin Chinese are offered via appointment only.  Students who wish to take a Mandarin Chinese language exam for placement or exemption must make an appointment with the Center for Academic Achievement.

Simmons also offers a placement exam for Italian. Students wishing to take an Italian Placement Exam must log onto eLearning. The Italian Placement Exam is located on the Center for Academic Achievement eLearning page.

Exams for languages not taught at Simmons are offered only twice a year and must be pre-ordered. Exams are ordered on August 1st. for testing in September and December 1st. for testing in January. If you wish to take an examination for a language other than French, Spanish, Mandarin, or Italian, you will need to contact the Center for Academic Achievement to arrange for one to be ordered. Please note that in some cases, the CAA may have to arrange with another institution for exam rental. In such cases please allow a minimum of three weeks prior to the date you wish to take the test for the CAA to locate the exam. In very special circumstances, students may petition the Center for Academic Achievement to take an exam by individual appointment during the academic year. For more information, contact the Center for Academic Achievement ( or 617.521.2474).

Chemistry Placement Exam

Every undergraduate student who plans to take a Fall 100-level chemistry course (CHEM 111 or 113 or 110) must take this exam before meeting with her advisor or registering for classes. The results of this placement exam may be used to help the student and her advisor choose the most appropriate chemistry course to enroll in. If you do not plan to take a college chemistry course, you do not need to take this exam. Here are the instructions for how to get started:

  • Go to
  • Type your assigned username and password
  • Once eLearning is loaded, the Center for Academic Achievement page should appear on the course list.
  • Select Center for Academic Achievement -Competencies (NAC)
  • Select the Chemistry Assessment
  • Begin Assessment

NOTE: If you have difficulty accessing the Chemistry Placement Exam, make sure that the pop-up blockers on your web browser are disabled. You must also use Internet Explorer or Netscape as the browser to access the exam. MAC and SAFARI are not supported.

Competency Exams

Mathematics Competency Exam

Every Simmons graduate must have demonstrated competency in basic mathematics; she may do so in one of the following ways:

  • Pass the Mathematics Competency Exam. You will have the opportunity to take the Math Competency Exam during orientation or during the monthly math exams offered during the semester.
  • Achieve a score of 600 or better on the mathematics section of the SAT, or a score of 24 on the mathematics section of the ACT
  • Present evidence of satisfactory completion at another accredited college of a mathematics course at the MATH 101 level or above to the chair of the Mathematics Department.
  • Successfully complete MATH 101 at Simmons.

Beginning in fall 2006, students must satisfy the math competency requirement during their first year at Simmons. Students who do not pass the Mathematics Competency Exam during new student orientation, or who do not meet the math competency requirement in one of the other ways described above, may choose to take Math 101 in their first semester or to retake the exam in November. If they do not pass the November test, they will automatically be enrolled in MATH 101 in the spring semester. Students who matriculate in January who do not pass the mathematics competency test or do not meet the requirement in one of the ways described above may take MATH 101 during their first semester, or they may retake the exam in March. If they fail the test in March, they will be automatically enrolled in MATH 101 in the following fall semester.

To help students review and prepare for the Mathematics Competency Exam, a study guide can be downloaded. Another online practice resource for the Basic Mathematics Competency Exam can be found at This site offers over 200,000 graded exams.

An official Practice Exam may be downloaded here: Math Competency Practice Exam (PDF)

The Practice Exam Answer Key can be downloaded here: Answer Key


What is iComps and why does it exist?
iComps is the undergraduate Information Technology and Information Literacy Competencies requirement (Information Competency). It exists to ensure that you are adequately prepared to use technology to enhance your learning experience at Simmons. As of Fall 2008, all incoming undergraduate students (first year students, transfers and Dix Scholars) are required to fulfill a competency requirement in Information Technology and Information Literacy by their third semester.

How do I satisfy the iComps requirement?
The iComps requirement can be satisfied one of two ways.

When do I take the iComps exam?
You will be scheduled to take the iComps exam the week after you return from spring break. If you do not pass the exam, you will have a second opportunity to take the exam in late April/early May. If you don not pass the second exam, you will be automatically registered in an iComps approved course in your third semester at Simmons.

What is on the iComps exam?
It is a 50-question multiple-choice and true/false proctored exam taken online through eLearning. It is designed to be completed in an hour. It covers information in 5 broad areas:

  • Information Access — library resources and services, foundational research skills
  • Ethics — copyright issues, Simmons Acceptable Use Policy, ethical and legal use of information
  • Personal Computing — connectivity, operating systems, security
  • Using Simmons Systems — Everything you need to know about using Simmons computing resources
  • Applications - Microsoft Office, MAC, Browsers, iTunes

How can I prepare for the exam?
Get a jump start and prep for the exam by going to the iComps eLearning course — (Simmons College Student Resource Center- NAC) It is your primary source of information about iComps. Here you will find the specific learning objectives for the above five areas of competency. There are also links to resources such as online content from the Simmons web site, online tutorials, videos, information about workshops offered by the Pottruck Technology Resource Center (PTRC), practice activities, information about other tutorials, and information about iComps workshops to be held prior to the exam. You will also find self- assessment quizzes to help you determine if you have met the objectives. If you pass the quizzes you should be able to pass the competency exam.

What do I do next?
Log into eLearning and log into the Simmons College Student Resource Center- NAC. Read the information in the Introduction Learning Module, complete the iComps agreement and then begin your study. You are encouraged to follow the schedule outlined in the syllabus. Watch for email and announcements throughout the semester alerting you to various iComps related activities and learning opportunities, as well as the specific date and place of the spring exam.

For additional information or administrative questions contact the Center for Academic Achievement- E108, 617-521-2474.

For help with iComps content (personal computing, using Simmons Systems and Applications), stop by the Technology Desk on the 1st floor of the Beatley Library Information Commons.


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Phone: 617-521-2474
Fax: 617-521-3079


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