Class of 2021: Harvard Placement Exams and Honor Code Reflection

May 15, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017

Dear Members of the Class of 2021:

I write with information about the placement exams you will take this summer and during Opening Days, the College’s orientation for new students.

Purpose and Overview
  • Placement exams help you and your advisers determine recommendations for appropriate Harvard courses. Please visit the placement exams website for detailed information about exam format, frequently asked questions, and academic accommodations.
  • All incoming students are required to take the online writing and mathematics placement exams this summer.
  • Most freshmen will take optional online exams (biology, chemistry, French, Spanish) over the summer. These should be taken as early as possible.
  • Music theory and other language placement exams will be given on campus during Opening Days.
  • Many of your placement exam results and recommendations will be available in in late August. During Opening Days, you will have the opportunity to talk with your adviser about how to interpret the recommendations as you select courses.
Exam Schedule

In late May, students will receive more detailed information via email about how to access the exams.

Required online writing and mathematics exams should be taken between Thursday, June 01 at 10:00 am and Thursday, June 15 at 2:00 pm (all times are US Eastern Daylight). If you have an unavoidable conflict with those dates, you may petition for the alternate test window – Thursday, July 06 at 10:00 am through Thursday, July 13 at 2:00 pm (EDT). Further information about petitioning and the writing exam is forthcoming tomorrow from the Harvard College Writing Program.

Optional online exams are offered in biology, chemistry, French, and Spanish from Tuesday, June 20 at 10:00 am through Thursday, July 27 at 2:00 pm (EDT). Students considering courses in STEM fields, regardless of concentration interests, are strongly encouraged to take both biology and chemistry. Please email our staff with unavoidable conflicts with these optional exams.

On-campus exams in other languages and music theory will be offered during Opening Days; a full schedule will be posted on the placement exams site in August.

Honor Code Reflection

Before you begin the writing exam, the College asks you to compose a reflection on Harvard’s Honor Code. This reflection will be available to you and your academic advisers, and we look forward to discussing it with you this fall.

With all good wishes for the successful end of your high school career and the arrival of summer.


Tom Dingman
Dean of Freshmen
Harvard College