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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 students majoring in humanities and social sciences.  
 
A Physics Placement Diagnostic is offered online before New Student Orientation (NSO) week. 
 

WHO SHOULD TAKE THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?

 
  • Anyone who plans to take courses in the PHYSICS 40 sequence during the upcoming academic year is advised to take the Physics Placement Diagnostic.
  • ALL students considering enrolling in PHYSICS 61 must take the Physics Placement Diagnostic.

WHO DOES NOT NEED TO TAKE THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?

 

You do not need to take the Placement Diagnostic if:

 
  • You plan to take courses in the PHYSICS 40 series AND have completed AP Calculus BC and AP Physics C, Mechanics and E&M,  with a 5 on all three tests OR
  • You are planning to enroll in the algebra-based PHYSICS 20 series.

WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE THE PLACEMENT DIAGNOSTIC?

 
The Placement Diagnostic will help us guide you on:
 
  • Whether you should take a math course in the Autumn Quarter or before you start the calculus-based Physics sequences.
  • Which Physics sequence you should take 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, there will be some material that is not familiar to students who are nonetheless prepared to enter the PHYSICS 40 sequence.  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 starting on Monday, July 10, 2017 by enrolling here.  Taking the Diagnostic online will allow you to receive advice and ask questions so you can plan your classes better.  If, for some reason, you do not take the Diagnostic over the summer, it will remain open for enrollment until the Friday of week 2 of fall quarter.
 
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 readiness for placement into the PHYSICS 40 or 60 series, or whether the department recommends that you take a math and/or physics course in the Autumn Quarter before beginning PHYSICS 41 in the Winter.
 
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.