The French Placement Process at Bowdoin

Students can take a first French course at Bowdoin only after the Department has assessed their level and recommended an appropriate class. This recommendation is determined on the basis of the placement exam that all students must take before course registration, any AP score earned in French, and a consultation with the Department that takes place at the French open house during first-year orientation or through individual appointments with a faculty member.

If you earned a 5 on the AP French or you have never taken any French, you need to complete only the first 4 questions of the placement test. All other students must complete the on-line test to determine placement.

Typical placement recommendations:

Prior experience in French Recommendation
Students who have never taken any French Enroll in French 1101 in the fall semester
Students who have had fewer than 2 years of high school French Enroll in French 2203 or French 1101 in the fall semester, as placed
Students who have taken 2 or more years of high-school French but have not earned a 5 on the French AP Enroll in French 2203 or French 2305 in the fall semester, as placed
Students who have earned a 5 on the French AP Enroll in French 2407 or 2409 in the fall semester or French 2408, 2410 or 2411 in the spring semester to begin the introduction to cultures and literatures series
Students who feel they need to improve their mastery of grammar and writing prior to continuing in French may choose to enroll in French 2305 in the fall semester upon consultation with the Department
Native or near-native speakers of French Consult with the Department regarding placement

During course registration, all students should know which course level was recommended based on their placement exam and consultation with the Department. This information is available from their academic advisors through the Registrar’s electronic system (Polaris) or from French faculty.

Students should enroll in the recommended course. Students may move between course levels during the first weeks of classes in consultation with their instructors.

How to take the Placement Exam and obtain your course recommendation:

  1. Login to Blackboard at
  2. Click on the Placement Exams and Surveys link.
  3. Click on Languages from the left-hand menu. Then follow the online directions carefully.

 If, after logging in to Blackboard, you find that you are unable to access the Placement Exams and Surveys link, please contact the Academic Coordinator for Romance Languages, Kate Flaherty (, or a French faculty member, to gain access to the Blackboard Placement course. Once you have access, please follow the above instructions.

Just prior to first-year orientation, your academic advisor will have access to your placement recommendation through the Registrar’s electronic system (Polaris). Department faculty will also have your results at the French open house that takes place during first-year orientation.