Computer Science

Placement Exam

Beginning Fall 2018, the Computer Science Department will be requiring all students interested in taking ECS 36A to either take a placement exam or ECS 32A. Please click here for information regarding the ECS 32 and 36 series. ECS 36A is not required for every student. Please see the link above to help determine if the 36 series is right for you.

The Computer Science Placement Exam determines your level of programming skill. All students who register for ECS 36A are required to pass the Computer Science Placement Exam or have a C- or better in ECS 32A or ECS 10. (Note: A prerequisite petition will be needed at the time of registration for students using ECS 10 to enroll in ECS 36A). Students enrolled in ECS 36A without satisfying the prerequisite requirements will be administratively dropped from the course by the Computer Science Department after the end of the testing window. There are no exemptions for SAT, AP, or IB scores.

Computer Science Placement Examination

The Computer Science Placement Examination is only available online. There will be one testing window per year and a student may only take it once per testing window. As with any exam, if you need special accommodations due to a disability, please contact the UC Davis Student Disabilities Center.

Current Requirements

You must meet one of the following requirements to enroll in ECS 36A:

  • Computer Science Placement Exam Score of 12 or better
  • C- or better in ECS 32A
  • C- or better in ECS 10

2018-2019 School Year

Computer Science Placement Examination window for the 2018-2019 school year will be open to all students May 9- September 23, 2018. A valid UC Davis email address is required to take the exam.–you must be logged in your UC Davis email account. To take the exam, please click on the link below during the examination window.

Staff assistance regarding the placement examination is only available during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00a-4:00p. Should you require help, please contact us at

Click here to take the Computer Science Placement Exam. (Note: this link can only be accessed while logged into your UC Davis account from May 9 – September 23, 2018)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the exam?
The exam should take no longer than 1 hour to complete. There are 14 programming questions.

When will I be able to see my score?
The results are available to you immediately upon completing the exam. Please click the “view score” button after submitting.

Is there a study guide? How should I prepare for the exam?
There is no study guide for the exam. The exam is written in a pseudocode and covers basic concepts such as conditional statements and loops. The exam is meant to gauge if you have any sort of programming experience and if you should start in ECS 32A or 36A. Please do not worry too much about preparing for the exam and be sure to take it prior to your fall registration.

I already took ECS 10/30. Do I need to take this placement exam? 
No, this exam is only for ECS 36A placement. If you have already taken the prerequisite course for ECS 36A (ECS 10 or ECS 32A with C- or better) or have already taken the equivalent course (ECS 30), then there is no need for you to take the exam.

I won’t be able to take the exam prior to registration. What should I do?
Please try to take the exam as soon as you can. In the meantime, decide on which course to enroll in based on your current experience and comfortability with programming. And note that taking ECS 32A will not significantly impact your graduation timeline.

If I need to switch courses, will I automatically be enrolled in the correct course?
No, students should unenroll from the incorrect course and enroll or waitlist in the correct one as soon as they can. There is no automatic enrollment in courses based on placement exam results. Students will be dropped from ECS 36A if they do not have the prerequisite or qualifying exam score.

I took the exam and placed in ECS 32A. Can I retake the exam?
No, students may only take the exam once per exam window. You will need to take ECS 32A or wait until next summer to take the exam again. This exam is to ensure you have adequate programming experience to succeed in ECS 36A. Taking ECS 32A will not significantly impact your graduation timeline.