Placement Guidelines for Language Courses


Portuguese Students with no prior experience in Portuguese should take Portuguese 1. Students with some background in Portuguese, either in high school, study abroad, or native speakers, should consult with the Language Program Director, Laura Marqués, or with the Undergraduate Advisor


There are two different tracks in the Spanish language program:

1. Spanish for Second language learners (Span 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 25)

2. Spanish for native speakers (Span 16A, 16B)

Students should take one track or the other.


**If you are a Native/Heratige speaker of Spanish, please see section 2 below.**

If you have learned Spanish as a second language (i.e. Spanish is not your home language and you learned it in school after childhood) you should take Spanish 1-6 and Span 25.

If you do not have previous experience with Spanish, take Spanish 1.

All students with previous experience in Spanish as a second language (i.e. learned after childhood) should take the Placement Exam to determine what level of Spanish (Span 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6) to enter (unless he/she has already taken the Advanced Placement Test in Spanish) or to test out of the Spanish requirement.


This exam is web-based with computer adaptive multiple choice questions. The duration of the exam will vary since the test "adapts" to the student's level of language ability. It usually takes less than an hour and is very user-friendly. Students can drop in to the listed computer lab to take the exam at any time during the lab’s posted open hours.

Location:    Phelps 1521 (MAIN) or HSSB 1203 (Alternate)

Lab Hours*: Monday – Thursday: 8:00 am – 8:50 pm

                       Friday: 8am – 4:50pm

*Lab Hours are only available while classes are in session.

Students wishing to be exempt from the GE language requirement should take the placement exam and place into Spanish 4 or higher. If a student places in a given course (e.g. Span 6) that means that s/he has tested out of the previous course (e.g. Span 5).

Students must bring picture ID in order to take the exam

Note: This exam is for second-language learners only. If you are a native/heritage speaker, you will need to take the Spanish Fluency Evaluation.


Placement exam results

Score          Student places in:

0-259                    Span 1       

260-314                Span 2

315-373                Span 3

374-423                Span 4

424-463                Span 5

464+                     Please consult with the undergraduate advisor for proper placement.         




A score of 3 or higher on either AP Spanish exam fulfills GE requirement (Area B)

Exam Score Equivalent Placement
 Spanish Language*       3         1-3    Span 4
       4         1-4    Span 5
       5          1- 5 Span 6
Spanish Language and Culture       3         1-3    Span 4
      4         1-4   Span 5
      5         1-5   Span 6
  Spanish Literature *  3 or 4         1-5   Span 6
      5         1-6     Span 25
Spanish Literature and Culture     3         1-4   Span 5
      4         1-5   Span 6
       5         1-6     Span 25

* These exams were offered by the College Board prior to 2012


For majors, only AP Spanish Language scores count; there is no equivalent for AP Spanish Literature.


A score of 570 or above passes the student out of Spanish 3 (no other scores have been established).


For transfer students who have taken Spanish at an institution with semesters: 1 semester = 1 ½ quarters at UCSB

  • After 1 semester, enroll in Spanish 2 at UCSB (or take the placement exam)
  • After 2 semesters, enroll in Spanish 4 at UCSB
  • After 3 semesters, enroll in Spanish 5 at UCSB (or take the placement exam)
  • After 4 semesters, enroll in Spanish 25 at UCSB

Please use to confirm your placement.


Students for whom Spanish is their home/family language and/or learned Spanish during childhood and who are proficient in spoken Spanish but have not taken extensive formal instruction in the language should take Spanish for Native Speakers. This includes students who were raised in a Spanish speaking environment, have lived in a Spanish speaking country for an extended period of time (more than three years), and speak the language with some members of their family and friends.

These students may take the Language Fluency Evaluation (information above) in order to determine whether they are exempt from taking Span 1-6 and for their appropriate placement in Spanish 16A and/or 16B if they want to pursue a major or minor in Spanish.

  • Do you speak Spanish? Do you speak Spanish with your family or some members of your family?
  • Is Spanish your first language? Did you learn it as a child?
  • Did you grow up in a Spanish-speaking country or area?
  • Do you have an interest in learning the language in a formal setting and developing your writing, reading, and oral skills with students of a similar background?

If the answer to most of these questions is YES, you should take Spanish 16A and 16B, NOT Spanish 1-6 and 25.


Fluency Evaluations are not available during the Summer. Please check back prior to the beginning of Fall quarter for Fall hours. 

Questions? Contact: Elena Báez at

Please note that this evaluation is only for native/heritage speakers of Spanish, and can only be taken once. You will need a photo ID.