French and Francophone Studies

Language Placement Exams

French language placement exams are offered throughout the academic year.

The purpose of this exam is to determine your level in relation to our program, and which course you should take. It is important that you take this exam without outside help, in whatever form, as this may skew your results, and you might end up in the wrong course. The placement exam should be taken only once prior to the semester in which you plan to take a French course.

If you are interested in taking a French and Francophone Studies course, please review these placement guidelines.

Placement Guidelines


  • 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.

If, after reviewing the French placement test result interpretation handout you have trouble determining which course you should take, you may contact the chair of the language committee, Stéphanie Ravillon or Stéphanie Gaillard.

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.

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).

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, 0720, 0750, 0760 or higher

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

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 0720: A freshman literature seminar
  • 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.

All 1000-level courses at Brown have prerequisites. In French and Francophone Studies, the equivalent of a 6th semester course, i.e., FREN 0600/0600L, 0720, 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.

FREN 0600/0600L/0600IR

FREN 0600/0600L/0600IR

Access the Exam

If after reviewing this information you determine that a placement exam is required, use the following links to access the exam:

Begin Test 2
(if instructed)



If you have questions or concerns regarding our language courses, the exams, or interpreting your results, please contact Professor Stéphanie Ravillon or Stéphanie Gaillard.