These are suggestions for 2020–21 new students who are concerned about having been placed lower than expected in mathematics or languages.
If your placement level in language or mathematics is lower than you requested,
do not panic. Typically, over 75 such placement changes are made every summer,
and virtually all turn out to be appropriate. We recommend that you take the following steps, consulting with your advisor along the way as indicated:
1. Attend the class that is in your schedule, on the first day that it meets.
2. If you still think that you have been placed too low, remember that there may be review in the first few days, and you need to consider the topics taught later in the course.
Ask your teacher, or if there is a course syllabus, look on the syllabus for this information. Look in your textbook at these topics to see whether you have studied them all in your previous school.
3 a. If you have not studied all the topics in the lower-level course, then it will probably be best for you to stay in the course.
It can be very difficult to move up a level and have to make up the missing topics on top of all the other adjustments to being at a new school. Staying where you are will give you some breathing room in this course while you make those other adjustments.
3 b. If you have studied all the topics in the lower-level course, then the next step is to find out why you were placed lower than expected.
Ask your language teacher or the mathematics department head to review your placement test with you. For example, if your placement test score was low, you might have already studied the topics but not learned them well enough. Moving up a level would leave gaps in your background that would be difficult to fill, as above.
4. If you and a teacher are still unsure whether you might belong at a higher level, do one or more of the following:
Visit the higher-level class or talk with its teacher during one of your free periods in order to get a better sense of the academic expectations at that level (e.g., look at the textbook and syllabus). Your advisor can help you figure out when and where that class meets.
Consult with your advisor about whether moving up a level will be manageable within your overall time commitments, including athletics and extracurricular activities.
Determine whether the move would require any scheduling shifts in your other courses. If you need help, ask your advisor or the director of studies (Alyse Ruiz-Selsky). In general, the more courses that must be shifted, the sooner the decision should be made — preferably during the drop/add period, but if necessary, new students may make placement-level changes after the initial drop/add period ends.
5. If the department and your advisor approve the change, then it's time to schedule the higher-level course. Your advisor can help you complete and submit a drop/add form.
Since permission of the department is required when changing a placement level, be sure to include, on the email to which you attach your completed drop/add form, a cc: to the department head, in addition to the cc: to your advisor.