Economics Placement

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 before, and/or you have taken a standardized test such as an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam, then you must 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, you still must take this assessment, since it is possible to get placement for just one of the two topics.

Taking the placement assessment will never prevent 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 elective course, such as those numbered 203-240 or 299. Those that receive placement out of one or both introductory courses should not feel intimidated about “skipping” an introductory class. This is because econ instructors will typically review content from any introductory courses that are important to their class. In addition, ECON 110, 120, and 200-level electives are all fairly similar in difficulty. If you would like to discuss our recommended placement for you in further detail, feel free to reach out to the placement chair (Prof. Matthew Chao, [email protected]) or to the instructor for any econ course you are considering.

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.


If you are an incoming first-year, you can access the placement assessment at, or alternatively by finding the course in your GLOW Dashboard. To access, you will need to log into GLOW using your Williams ID and password. If you do not know your ID and password, you can email [email protected] for help. If you are not a first-year but wish to take the placement, please contact the placement chair at [email protected]. To ensure that placement information is available during course registration, the assessment should be completed prior to August 5, 2023. Shortly after that date, we will email you with your placement recommendation. To reiterate, this placement assessment 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]).