University of Wisconsin-Madison Placement Testing General Information

Please Note: This is specific information for entering UW-Madison students only


UW-Madison students starting classes in the fall semester can
Register to take placement exams on the Regional Testing Registration page starting February 1.


International students or students needing to take the "UW-Madison ESLAT" are advised to select "Option 2: Schedule a computer based test at a Castle Worldwide testing center" (available March 1).

Students requesting special accommodations should not register online. Follow this link for instructions on how to
request special accommodations due to a disability.


Incoming UW-Madison freshmen are expected to complete placement tests in math and English . New transfer students are notified by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment via e-mail of any placement testing needed. In addition, international students are notified by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment via e-mail if they need to take the UW-Madison ESLAT (additional information about the ESLAT is included in the frequently asked questions below). Placement tests in French, German and Spanish are available if you plan to continue in one or more of these languages. Placement tests are essential in determining a student's skills so that they can be placed into the correct course in a sequence of courses.


Most UW-Madison students will need to take their placement tests during the Regional Placement Testing Program. There are two options available for students to complete their placement tests through this program. For students living in or near Wisconsin, paper/pencil testing sessions are offered at University of Wisconsin System institutions, as well as in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and the metropolitan Chicago, Illinois area. The other option is taking the placement tests via computer-based testing (CBT). This option is available to students throughout the United States and international locations through our partnership with Castle Worldwide.




Common UW-Madison Placement Testing Questions:

SOAR-Related Questions


How long before SOAR do I have to take my test? Do I schedule my placement test first, or my SOAR date?

If you are testing anywhere other than on the UW – Madison campus (Regional Placement Testing), you need to complete your test two weeks before your SOAR session to ensure that your test scores are available. If you are testing on the UW – Madison campus, you can complete your testing 24 hours before your SOAR date. Do not schedule your testing on the same day as your SOAR date; the testing time is not compatible with the SOAR program, and you will not be able to register for courses.


Does registering for my placement test register me for SOAR (or vice versa)?

You must register for your SOAR date and your placement test separately. Please register using the link above for your placement testing date first, then register for SOAR at The SOAR registration system will require you to enter your placement testing information; however, inputting this information into the SOAR reservation system does not register you for the test. 


What if I want to request special accommodations due to a disability for my placement tests?

Do NOT register online if you are requesting special accommodations due to a disability. If you wish to request special accommodations due to a disability, please send a letter on your high school letterhead (please do not send an IEP) from a teacher, counselor or principal who will:
1. Describe what test accommodations are appropriate for you,
2. Include your address, telephone number, email address and date of birth,
3. Include which site you wish to test at (unless you are testing through our CBT program at a Castle Worldwide testing site, then just mention you want to test using CBT),
4. Include what campus you plan to attend in the fall.

Send this information to Tim O’Connor, 1025 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706.


What if I need accommodations for attending SOAR or for my courses?

Information on requesting accommodations can be found by following this link: .


Which test(s) do I have to take?

You should have received an e-mail from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment regarding which placement tests you need to take. Most incoming freshmen will need to take the math and English placement tests. If you wish to continue in studying French, German or Spanish that you already have experience with, you will need to take that respective foreign language placement test too. More information on placement into foreign language courses, including courses other than French, German and Spanish, can be found at:


I am interested in  taking a placement test in a foreign language other than French, German, or Spanish. How do I do that?

The process for testing in a language other than French, German, or Spanish varies depending on which language you want to test. Additional information about the tests available and how to register for them can be found here:


How do I know if I should take the English test or the ESLAT?

You should have received information from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment regarding whether you should take the English placement test or the ESLAT. If you are unsure, please contact the Office of Admissions and Recruitment (

I’ve been instructed to take the ESLAT. What are my options for taking it?

The ESLAT is not offered in Option 1 – Paper/Pencil Testing in or near Wisconsin. We encourage incoming students who need to take the ESLAT to do their testing through Option 2 – Computer-Based Testing at a Castle Worldwide Testing Center. The computer-based testing option only includes the 50 minute essay. There is no listening component offered in the computer-based testing option. The ESLAT will also be offered on UW-Madison’s campus in late August, however, you will need permission from the SOAR office to take the ESLAT in August. You can find dates and information here: Please note that if you take your test on campus, you must complete it at least 24 hours before your SOAR session begins. Placement testing cannot be taken the same date as your SOAR session. Failure to complete placement testing before SOAR will prevent you from registering for fall courses.

What is the ESLAT?

The UW-Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test (ESLAT) is used to assess students' English language skills required for academic work in a US university classroom and to place the student in the appropriate English course. The ESLAT is required of many new undergraduate students and does not assume that English has not been the student’s dominate or even first language. Rather, it assesses what level of English would be best for the student to begin, and in some cases exempts the student from UW-Madison’s required academic reading and research course. Those who studied outside the United States, or whose dominant language growing up will likely be asked to take the ESLAT. More information about the ESLAT can be found: There is no practice ESLAT available.


Can I test near where I live?

The Regional Testing Program allows students to test near where they live. If you live in or near Wisconsin, we offer paper/pencil placement testing at all University of Wisconsin System campuses. We also offer some paper/pencil testing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area and the metropolitan Chicago, Illinois area. We also offer computer-based testing though out the United States and many international locations through our partnership with Castle Worldwide.


How much does placement testing cost?

There is no extra charge for paper/pencil testing in the Regional Testing Program. Computer-based testing (CBT) through Castle Worldwide does incur extra fees. Costs for CBT will be $80.00 for one test, $90.00 for two tests and $100.00 for 3 tests. International cost will be $175.00 for test battery consisting of 1, 2, or 3 tests.


What do I need to bring to my test?

Paper/pencil testing requires a government-issued photo ID, a non-graphing calculator (if you want to use this for the math placement test) and a couple of #2 pencils. Computer-based testing requires a government-issued photo ID. You will not be allowed to bring a calculator for computer-based testing. However, there will be a non-graphing calculator available as part of the software used in testing.


I already took college-level classes. Do I still need to take the placement test?

You should have received information from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment regarding the need for taking placement tests in disciplines that you have received college credit in. If you are unsure, take the placement tests.


How do I know if I’m registered for placement testing/where can I check?

If you registered for a paper/pencil exam you will have an email confirmation message from with the subject "regional testing registration confirmation".  If you registered for a computer based exam, the confirmation email will come from and the subject will be "University of Wisconsin - Scheduling Confirmation Notice".  Your confirmation email will also provide instructions for rescheduling or cancelling your appointment.  If you believe you registered to take the placement exams and either deleted or cannot find your confirmation message, please contact the Center for Placement Testing during business hours at 608-262-5863 so that we may assist you.


I didn’t get the scores I wanted. How do I retest?

Retesting in math is not automatic. To talk about this possibility and receive permission for a retake, you need to see the math consultant at SOAR or email: during the academic year. You have to realize that the latest scores are the ones that count even if they are lower so the decision to retake the math placement test should be taken after serious consideration. Retesting in English is not allowed.


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