The Economics Placement assessment is only for students with prior background in economics. If you have no prior economics background, you should NOT take the placement assessment. For students with no prior economics background, your first economics course should be ECON 110, which you can register for without taking this placement assessment. (You may also begin with a 100-level elective numbered below 110; just be aware those do not count towards the major).
If you have taken an economics course elsewhere, and/or you have taken a standardized test such as an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam, we request that you take this placement assessment. Department faculty will use the placement results and your economics background (including any A-levels and AP or IB scores) to determine which economics course we recommend as your starting point in our department. If you have background in only one out of microeconomics and macroeconomics, we still request that you take the assessment, since it is possible to get placement for just one of the two topics.
Taking the placement assessment will never preclude you from still taking any of our introductory courses (ECON 110 or 120) if you still wish to. Thus, taking this assessment will NOT reduce the number of economics course options available to you. It will simply give you better information on which courses likely make sense for you.
The most common pathways we recommend, depending on your placement assessment and economics background, are (i) starting with ECON 110, (ii) starting with ECON 120, or (iii) starting with a 200-level course (such as an elective).
Summary of the Assessment
The placement assessment consists of four sections and should take about an hour to complete (you will have a maximum of two hours once you begin). We recommend finding a quiet location with a reliable internet connection. We summarize each section below.
Section 1: Honor Code Statement
Williams College prides itself on the Honor Code. In this section, you will be asked to acknowledge that you have read the Honor Code statement and that you agree to abide by the code. The placement assessment is closed-notes and closed-book. Access to information and help other than that provided with the placement assessment is in violation of the Honor Code (and would of course only cause us to provide an inaccurate placement recommendation).
Section 2: Economics Background
In this section, you will provide a basic description of your math and economics background, including prior economics classes and exam scores.
Section 3: Microeconomics Content
This section consists of approximately 20 multiple choice questions about microeconomics. If you are unfamiliar with the topic in any question, you can always select “I don’t think I’ve seen this before” or “I can’t remember how to do it.” If you have not taken microeconomics before and just want to get to the macroeconomics section, you can simply select “I don’t think I’ve seen this before” for every question in Section 3.
Section 4: Macroeconomics Content
This section consists of approximately 20 multiple choice questions about macroeconomics. If you have not taken macroeconomics, and you are only taking the exam for the microeconomics section, you can simply select “I don’t think I’ve seen this before” for every question in Section 4.
Do not worry if there are many topics you have not seen before. Most students will not know the answers to many questions in the last two sections. It is NOT meant to be evaluated according to standard grading thresholds that you might be used to – it may be difficult even for those who have already completed ECON 110 and 120, and a 50% could be considered a placement-worthy score in some sections. Simply do the best you can.
You will need to activate your Williams College email account to access Glow.
The placement assessment is administered through Glow, the college’s course management service, and will become available on Glow on July 15, 2022 at this link here. (You will also be able to access it directly from your Glow page starting July 15). To ensure that placement information is available during registration, the assessment should be completed prior to August 5, 2022. After that date, we will email you with your placement recommendation. To reiterate, this placement test is only for those with some background in economics.
All questions about access to the assessment should be directed to the current placement chair (Professor Matthew Chao: [email protected]).