McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science   Northwestern University
Department of Computer Science Northwestern University

Computer Science Placement Exam

What is this exam for?  

The Computer Science Placement exam is designed to help you evaluate your basic programming skills. There are three possible outcomes of this exam:

  • CS 110: Your performance indicates you should be capable of entering any course that requires CS 110 or C/C++/Java programming experience.
  • CS 11x: Your performance indicates you should be capable of entering any course that requires "basic programming experience," but not courses requiring CS 110 or C/C++/Java experience.
  • No placement: Your performance indicates you should take CS 110 or some other introductory programming course before taking any course requiring programming experience.

Note that CS 110 is not required by any department or school, including majors in Computer Science in the McCormick School of Engineering and majors in Computing and Information Systems in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Why should I take the exam?  

This exam should be taken if you are unsure of your programming competency, or if you are required to do so by your advisor or department.

What is covered in the exam?  

The exam covers the topics taught in a typical introductory programming course, such as variables and variable scope, conditionals (e.g., if), iteration (e.g., while and for), user-defined functions, arrays, and structures (e.g., struct in C, class in C++ and Java, record in Pascal).

What programming language is used in the exam?  

You can use any modern structured programming language, but you must use C, C++, or Java to get "CS 110" placement. If you use another language, such as Basic, Pascal, or Ada, you can only receive "CS 11x" placement.

Do I get course credit from this exam?  

No. This exam does not give course credit.

Can this exam place me out of CS 111, the introductory course for Computer Science majors?  

No. The programming language (Scheme) and concepts covered in CS 111 are quite different from CS 110, and rarely taught in high schools. Students wishing to place out of CS 111 need to contact the Computer Science department directly.

Can I take the exam again, if I get interrupted?  

No. You must complete the online exam and hit the "submit" button within the time allotted. If the submit button is pressed after the end of the allotted time, the exam result will be invalidated and you will not be able to take it again. You'll need to contact the Computer Science department directly to see whether an off-line version of the exam is an option.

What about students with learning disabilities?  

If a student has a documented learning disability on entry to Northwestern University he/she may make arrangements with Northwestern University's Services for Students with Disabilities Office to take the exam by contacting the office at (847) 467-5530. They should in turn contact the Computer Science department.

Online Exam Administration
2133 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208
Tel: 847-491-3500 | Fax: 847-491-5258

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