Summer 2023 – SOAR Advising and Consulting

During the Summer 2023 Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program, incoming students with interest in the Spanish or Portuguese majors or the Certificate in Spanish Studies for Business Majors and/or questions about enrollment in Spanish or Portuguese courses may make a 20-minute appointment via Starfish to speak with Karen Francis, the Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese. Appointments may be made up to one week (but not less than twenty-four hours) in advance and appointment availability for the week is posted the Wednesday morning prior.

You can find answers to many common questions below.


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Do I need to take the Spanish placement exam?

Short Answer: Yes. Any student with previous experience in Spanish interested in taking a Spanish course at UW-Madison beyond Spanish 101 should take the Spanish placement exam.

Long Answer: Previous college-level Spanish credit can override Spanish placement exam results. However, since there can be some uncertainty as to when previous college records will be sent by the student and received and processed by UW-Madison, having placement exam results will allow students to enroll in a level beyond Spanish 101 during their SOAR session if their other college records have not yet been sent/received/processed.

More information about placement exams can be found here.

Into which Spanish course did I place?

For students taking the Spanish placement exam, only the Spanish Total Placement score is taken into consideration for course placement.

Spanish Total Placement Course Placement
150 – 420 101
421 – 540 102
541 – 639 203
640 – 742 204
743 – 849 226
850 226 or 311

Students wishing to enroll in a course below their placement should contact Karen Francis. Please note, however, that only exceptional circumstances will be considered in allowing students to enroll below their placement.

I am dissatisfied with my Spanish placement exam results. Can I retake the exam?

  1. We strongly suggest that you retake the Spanish placement exam only if you think that your placement level is inaccurate. It may not be in your best interest to place into a higher-level course if, in fact, you are not quite prepared for that class.
  2. Except in the case of previous college-level Spanish credit, we do not make exceptions to a student’s Spanish course placement. Previous college-level Spanish credit can override Spanish placement exam results.
  3. You only get one chance to retake the exam, and your most recent results will be used for placement without exception, even if your most recent results place you lower than the results from your original Spanish placement exam.
  4. Placing lower may extend the amount of coursework you must do, as well as delay access to certain courses.
  5. We recommend that you do not delay your course enrollment pending results of a placement exam retake request. You should consider enrolling in the Spanish class into which you are currently placed. You can work with your academic advisor later if your Spanish placement changes.
  6. Retake sessions will take place throughout the summer. You must be authorized (see below) to retake the Spanish placement exam.

Assuming acknowledgement of these points, speak with your SOAR advisor about retake permission. SOAR advisors will be able to fill out a retake request form on behalf of their students, and we will reach out to the student with more information shortly thereafter. The final placement exam session of the summer will take place on Monday, August 28, 2023. Students who wish to retake the Spanish placement exam before fall classes begin must be submitted for authorization by 4:00pm CDT on Thursday, August 24, 2023. If your SOAR session has concluded or you are a continuing student, please email Karen Francis requesting permission to retake the placement exam. Retake permission will not be granted prior to your SOAR session.

What are retroactive credits?

Retroactive credits are credits granted in recognition of previous language study. Retroactive credits earned at UW-Madison do correspond to particular courses, namely Spanish 101, 102, 203, and 204, but the credits are not graded and do not factor into your GPA. With some exceptions, retroactive credits will generally not fulfill the requirements of any School/College or major, but please check with your academic advisor to determine how your academic program will treat these credits.

You have to take a language class at UW-Madison to earn retroactive credits.

In no case can you earn retroactive credits simply by taking a placement test or other exam. You have to take a class and meet the following requirements to earn credit for the lower-level courses:

  • The course must be your first course at the college level in the language. This does not include college-level coursework taken during high school, but does include courses transferred from another institution where you were working towards a degree.
  • The course must be designated appropriate for earning retroactive credits by the department. In the case of the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, students can earn retroactive credits in:
    • Spanish 102 (4), 203 (8), 204 (12), 223 (16), 224 (16), 225 (16), 226 (16), and 311 (16)
    • Portuguese 102 (4), 302 (4), 201 (8), 202 (12), 221 (16), 225 (16), 226 (16), 311 (16), and 312 (16)
  • You must take the course before you have earned 30 degree credits. This does not include AP, CLEP, IB, or other college credit earned in high school, nor does it include retroactive credits earned in another language. It does include courses transferred from another institution where you were working towards a degree.
  • You must earn a B or better in the class.

Retroactive credits may be transferred from other universities.

Students who earned retroactive credits at another institution under the same guidelines listed above may transfer those retroactive credits to UW-Madison with the rest of their transfer credits.

Retroactive credits do not count toward the Spanish major.

Students may earn up to 16 retroactive credits, 4 each for Spanish 101, 102, 203, and 204. The Spanish major begins beyond this level.

What do I need to know about Spanish Advanced Placement (AP)?

There are two AP Spanish exams, one in Language and one in Literature. While the AP Spanish Language exam is far more common, please be sure to confirm which Spanish AP exam you took as results vary somewhat.

AP Spanish Literature Exam AP Spanish Language Exam
Score UW-Madison Credit Received Score UW-Madison Credit Received
3 Spanish 204 3 or 4 Spanish 204
4 or 5 Spanish 224 5 Spanish 226

Can I earn both AP and retroactive credits?

While, yes, students are able to earn both retroactive credits and AP credits, they cannot do so for the same course. For example, students with a 3 or a 4 on the AP Spanish Language exam will earn AP credits for Spanish 204. If they then begin the language sequence in Spanish 226 and meet all the eligibility requirements listed in the previous panel, they will earn retroactive credits for Spanish 101, 102, and 203, but not for 204 as they already have AP credits for that course.

What do I need to know about Spanish International Baccalaureate (IB)?

UW-Madison awards credit for scores of 4-7 on the Higher-Level (HL) IB exams. For scores of 4-7 on the HL IB Foreign Language (Spanish) A exams in Language and Literature, students will earn 6 advanced-level Spanish literature credits. These credits do not count toward the Spanish major but do count toward any Literature Breadth requirements for any degree on campus.

I participated in a high school dual enrollment program. Will those credits transfer?

High school dual enrollment programs in Spanish are becoming more commonplace, and there are three that we see regularly:

UW-Oshkosh Cooperative Academic Partnership Program (CAPP)*

UWO CAPP Course UW-Madison Course
Spanish 204 Spanish 204
Spanish 312 Spanish 226

UW-Green Bay College Credit in High School (CCIHS) Program*

UWGB CCIHS Course UW-Madison Course
Spanish 201 Spanish 203
Spanish 202 Spanish 204
Spanish 225 Spanish 226

University of Minnesota College in the Schools (CIS)**

UMN CIS Course UW-Madison Course
Spanish 1003 Spanish 203
Spanish 1004 Spanish 204

*CAPP and CCIHS students who earn a grade of ‘B’ or better in the first course taken through their dual enrollment program will earn retro-credits from UWO and UWGB, respectively. Those retro-credits transfer to UW-Madison along with the course(s) those students took through the dual enrollment program. These students do not have to take another Spanish course at UW-Madison to earn those retro-credits.

**CIS students do not earn retro-credits. Students who participated in the CIS program, then, are eligible to earn retro-credits for Spanish 101 and 102 by taking Spanish 226 at UW-Madison.

Local students who participated in UW-Madison’s Early College Credit Program (ECCP) will have taken one of our Spanish courses, generally Spanish 226 and above, as a high school junior or senior. These students are eligible to earn retro-credits from that ECCP course once they become fully matriculated at UW-Madison, even if they do not take further Spanish courses.


If you participated in a high school dual enrollment program not listed above, please contact Karen Francis for more information on how your courses will transfer.

Online Placement Testing

Registration for online placement testing is now open! Click the Register for Placement Testing button below to begin the process. You must log in to this registration page using your UW-Madison NetID and password. If you have activated your NetID but have forgotten your NetID password, you can reset it online with the NetID Password Reset Tool. If you have forgotten your NetID, you can recover it using the self-service NetID Recovery Tool. Within two business days after registering, you will receive an email from with a password and instructions to access the online placement testing system. Students who are required to take placement exams must complete their placement exam(s) at least two weeks before their SOAR advising week.

Contact Testing and Evaluation Services at or (608) 262-5863 if you have questions during the testing registration process.

Register for Placement Testing