Optional Placement Exam

Optional online placement exams

Indiana University Bloomington Evaluation Services and Testing (BEST) oversees the administration of the Biology Exemption Exam and Calculus Placement Exam in cooperation with the Departments of Biology and Mathematics respectively. These undergraduate-level exams are optional. They should be taken only if the student does not have prior academic credit for the Biology and Calculus courses indicated below.

Each exam may be taken only once. Retesting for any reason is not permitted. Each exam is one hour and may be taken at a scheduled time during New Student Orientation. For new students, exam registration is done as part of the orientation registration process with the Office of First Year Experience Programs (https://fye.indiana.edu/fyme/index.cfm).

Currently enrolled IU Bloomington students who may want to take either exam should contact the Biology Undergraduate Advising Office (https://biology.indiana.edu/undergraduate/advising/index.html) or the Mathematics Undergraduate Studies Office (https://math.indiana.edu/undergraduate/index.html) for information on other testing opportunities.

There is a non-refundable $26.50 fee per exam that will be charged to the student’s Bursar account for each exam taken. Students taking both the Biology and Calculus exams will be charged a separate fee for each exam.

Biology exemption exam

Incoming freshman and transfer students as well as currently matriculated students in their first semester at IU Bloomington OR who have NOT yet completed 50 credit hours on the IU Bloomington campus, and who have been approved by the Department of Biology academic advising staff, are eligible to take the Biology Exemption Exam. Academic credit may be awarded for BIOL-E 111 and BIOL-E 112. Credit earned through testing will appear as BIOL-E 111 and BIOL-E 112, and students will earn a grade of S (Satisfactory). This credit satisfies the BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112 course requirements for biology majors and other science majors, but it carries no lab credit. Credit through testing can also apply toward College of Arts and Sciences N&M distribution requirements. The exam covers the topics normally taught in BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112.

Please see the BIOL-E 111/L 111 and BIOL-E 112/L 112 course descriptions available at http://bulletins.iu.edu/iub/college/2016-2017/departments/biology/courses.shtml for more course-related information.

Additional information about Biology credit-by-testing is available at https://biology.indiana.edu/student-portal/undergraduate/courses/faqs.html.

Calculus placement exam (available during fall orientation only)


Incoming freshmen and transfer students who already possess strong Calculus skills but do not have credit for Calculus may choose to take the Calculus Placement Exam offered during New Student Orientation. If a student scores between 20-24 on this exam, he/she can obtain credit for one semester of Calculus (MATH-M 211) for 4 credit hours and confidently continue studying mathematics at a more advanced level. The exam covers the topics normally taught in MATH-M 211.

Please see the MATH-M 211 course description available at https://math.indiana.edu/undergraduate/courses/index.html for more course-related information

Additional information about other math placement and exemption exams and a sample Calculus placement exam is available at https://math.indiana.edu/undergraduate/calculus-exemption-exams.html

Frequently asked questions


  1. Should I take the exam if I have been awarded prior academic credit for Biology and Calculus?

    Academic credit for BIOL-L 111/E 111 AND BIOL-L 112/E 112 and for MATH-M 211 may only be awarded once. This includes credit awarded from the Advanced Placement (AP) exam (https://admissions.indiana.edu/apply/freshman/ap-exam-credit.html), the International Baccalaureate (https://admissions.indiana.edu/apply/freshman/ib-exams.html), or transfer credit granted by Indiana University for eligible courses completed at other academic institutions (http://cts.admissions.indiana.edu/).

  2. Should I take the exam if I haven’t gotten my Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or SAT Subject Test scores yet?

    New incoming students may take the Biology and Calculus exams during New Student Orientation in the summer and in Welcome Week in August. The Biology exam will also be offered during Spring New Student Orientation in January and at other times as approved by the Department of Biology. Course selection in August and at other times will be more limited, and scheduling courses may be more difficult if the student does not ultimately receive Biology or Calculus credit through AP, IB, or the SAT Subject Tests (Biology only). Therefore, unless the student is extremely confident that he/she performed very well on the AP, IB, or SAT Subject Test exam and is highly likely to receive academic credit, we would recommend that he/she take the Biology and/or Calculus exam during New Student Orientation. If the student does not have a strong knowledge of the course material and would rather just take the course, he/she does not have to take the exam.

  3. May I change my mind and decide not to take the exam that I am scheduled to take?

    Yes, of course! Students are not required to take either exam. If the student decides not to sit for the exam that they registered for, they do not have to take it. No prior notification is necessary.

  4. May I receive a refund if I take the exam and do not receive academic credit or later find that I took the exam unnecessarily?

    The $26.50 fee per exam is non-refundable under any circumstances. The student should carefully consider whether they need or want to take the Biology and/or Calculus exam before they sit for it.