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Placement Diagnostic

PHYSICS PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC

The Physics Department's introductory course offerings are described here.   We offer introductory physics courses for students majoring in science and engineering, as well as non-technical courses for students majoring in humanities and social sciences.  An advisory Physics Placement Diagnostic is offered online. 
 
WHO SHOULD TAKE THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?
 
  • Anyone who plans to take courses in the PHYSICS 40 sequence during the upcoming academic year is strongly advised to take the Physics Placement Diagnostic.
  • ALL students considering enrolling in PHYSICS 41E (formerly PHYSICS 41A) in Winter 2019 OR students considering PHYSICS 43A in Spring 2019 must take the Physics Placement Diagnostic.  
  • ALL students considering enrolling in PHYSICS 61 must take the Physics Placement Diagnostic.

WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?

The Placement Diagnostic will help us guide you on which Physics sequence you should take, and where you should start in the sequence, so that you are sufficiently challenged without being overwhelmed. The Placement Diagnostic is meant to be a useful tool to help students calibrate their readiness for the different physics sequences. It is not meant to be a barrier to entering courses. Our goal is to ensure that each student successfully completes the first physics course they take at Stanford. The physics teaching staff will provide advice to each student based on their placement-diagnostic results.

WHAT DOES THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC COVER?

The Placement Diagnostic covers both conceptual understanding and quantitative skills in mathematics and introductory physics.  It is intended to assess your existing command of the material; thus, it is neither necessary nor advisable that you study beforehand.  Because the diagnostic is designed to assess a broad range of preparation,  you should not be concerned if you find material in the diagnostic that is unfamiliar.  We will provide you with appropriate advice based on how you do on the entire diagnostic.

WHEN IS THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC OFFERED?

The Physics Placement Diagnostic will be offered online  and is available between mid-July (typically around July 15) and 5 pm on Friday of week 2 of the Fall Quarter.  Taking the Diagnostic online will allow you to receive advice and ask questions so you can plan your classes better.  
 
See this page for complete placement test schedules including Physics and other departments.

WHAT SHOULD I HAVE WHEN I SIT DOWN TO START THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?

You should have a sheet of paper for scratch work, something to write with, and your SUNet ID (you will need your SUNet ID to enroll in the placement diagnostic course).
 
Calculators are not needed or allowed.
 
The browsers Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, and Safari are all supported, so please use one of those browsers only.
 
The clock starts once you start the diagnostic -- please make sure you have a 60-minute block of time available. In addition to the diagnostic, there is a separate, brief background survey that you can complete before or after you complete the diagnostic.

WHEN DO I GET FEEDBACK ON MY READINESS FOR THE CALCULUS-BASED PHYSICS COURSES?

Emails will be sent out once a week.  Students who have completed the diagnostic by noon on Friday will receive advice based on the results of the Physics Placement Diagnostic by 5 pm Pacific Time on Monday following that Friday.  The advice will be sent to your @stanford.edu email account.
 
You will be provided with guidance on your placement into a course within a Physics sequence.
 
If you have not heard back from us within two weeks after you take the diagnostic, please contact us at choosingphysics@stanford.edu
 
STUDENTS WITH DOCUMENTED DISABILITIES
 
If you have a disability or required accommodations in high school, you should contact the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) as soon as possible. The OAE office is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone 723-1066, TTY 725-1067) and their website is oae.stanford.edu/students.  The OAE will evaluate the request, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a letter that you should email to choosingphysics@stanford.edu.  You will get instructions for taking the Physics Placement Diagnostic from choosingphysics@stanford.edu within a week of sending in the letter.