Placement Guidelines

Placement Guidelines

Who has to take the Brown Placement Exam?

  • Any incoming freshman who has had previous coursework in French must take the Brown Placement Exam UNLESS s/he has presented AP scores or recent SAT II scores. (Those who received an AP score of 3 or under and have no SAT II score should also take the Brown Placement Exam.) For AP and Sat II results, see below.
  • Students with substantial non-academic contact with French (living abroad, speaking French at home.)
  • Upper-classmen who were previously enrolled in a French course at Brown but interrupted their study for more than a semester.
  • Students who have taken the French placement exam in a previous semester but did not take a French class at Brown.

How do I get help determining my correct placement?

If, after reviewing the handout called "French Placement Test" you have trouble determining which course you should take (the handout is also available at the Educational Technology Center on the second floor of the (CIT), you may contact instructors of language courses or members of the department's language committee: Youenn Kervennic, Justin Izzo and St√©phanie Ravillon.

What if the course/section I wish to take is not on my class list?

It may happen that you haven't been able to register for the course you wish to take or that the Registrar, for some reason, rejected it.  Do not give up: remember that you have a few weeks to add courses without a fine.  And, given the way enrollments shift during the first week of classes, there is a good possibility that you can get into the course.  What you should do is go to the section(s) of the class that fit(s) your schedule and attend the first 3 days of class regularly.  If 2 classes that you need to attend meet at the same time, please go to one of them and speak with the instructor of the other course immediately before or after the class.  You must also do all the homework assigned in the course you wish to add.

NB: shifting occurs mostly during the first week; by the second week it often becomes more difficult to find open sections.

What do I do if after the first class I realize I have been placed too high or too low?

There is no perfect placement tool and it may be the case that the test scores you got do not reflect your level.  The first thing to do is to talk with your instructor, who might be able to confirm your impression right away, or might direct you to a course supervisor or placement advisor.  It would also be a good idea to sit in on courses at a higher or/and lower level, and to talk to that/those instructor(s).

I took my SAT II in French, what level should I go to?

The current guideline is as follows for incoming students with recent results, all others should go directly to the placement tests:

Below 300                  Take the placement test
300-390                      FREN 0100
400-450                      FREN 0200
460-510                       FREN 0300
520-590                       FREN 0400
600-690                      FREN 0500
700-800                      FREN 0600,0600L,0600IR, 0750,0760 or higher

I took the AP French language exam, what level should I go to?

5                       Credit for FREN 0500. Recommended courses: 0600,0720,0750 or 0760
4                       Credit for FREN 0400. Recommended course: 0500
3                       No credit. Recommended courses: 0400 or 0500, to be confirmed by the placement test
1-2                   No credit. Recommended courses: 0300 or 0400, to be confirmed by the placement test

When I place at higher levels on the AP (4+), SAT II (700K+) or Brown Placement Exam (test 2: 80+), there is an array of courses I can choose from (FREN 0600/0600L/0600IR- 0720-0750-0760-1000+).  How do I know where to start?  In what order do I take these courses?

See next question/answer if you are interested in a 1000-level course.

Please note that at the 5th semester level, you should plan to take:

  • FREN 0500, Writing and Speaking French 1 is a language class where various types of documents are used: films, cultural as well as literary documents, press articles, etc.

At the 6th semester level, you have the choice between several tracks:

  • FREN 0600: Writing and Speaking French 2, will offer activities based on documents drawn from current events, cinema, press articles and also literature.
  • FREN 0600L: has a strong emphasis on French speaking literatures usually organized around a central literary theme (not offered every semester).
  • FREN 0600IR: has a strong emphasis on international relations, French politics and current events (not offered every semester).
  • FREN 0750: Intro to literature: literature and social thought
  • FREN 0760: Intensive Intro to literature and literary methods

Having passed one of these courses is the prerequisite for 1000-level courses.  You may take 2 or all 3, in any sequence.

Can I take 1000-level courses right away?

All 1000-level courses at Brown have prerequisites.  In French Studies, the equivalent of a 6th semester course, i.e., FREN 0600/0600L, 0750 and 0760, is the prerequisite.  Courses taken abroad or at another institution might be equivalent; students who scored a 5 on the AP test and/or above 95 on the Brown placement test 2 might qualify.  If this is your case you should consult with either a placement advisor or with the faculty member teaching the 1000-level course you are considering. 

What level of study is required for study in a French speaking country?  FREN 0600/0600L/0600IR.

What level of study satisfies the International Relations Concentration requirement?  FREN 0600/0600L/0600IR.

How do I get information regarding a concentration in French Studies?

By consulting the Course Announcement section on Concentrations, consulting the French Department Brochure (available in the French Department Office, Rm 102 Rochambeau House), the French Studies website, or by speaking with our Concentration Advisor, Professor Thangam Ravindranathan any time during the year.