International Exam Policies and Procedures

International Exam Policies and Procedures

Note: If a student wishes to consult with the dean who handles international exam credits, they are expected to have arranged for the Admission Office to have directly received their official exam results prior to their arrival at Brown.  Students who have not done so, should bring his, her, or their original diploma or certificate of examination results to The College Office in University Hall so a copy can be made.  An approved copy of exam scores must be on file before the dean will consult with the student about potential credit for the exams. Students are advised that they forfeit transcript notation of placement or transfer credit if they register for and fail the course to which an exam credit corresponds or drop that course after the Registrar's deadline to add courses. 

At Brown, international diploma or certificate exam scores can serve one or more of the following purposes: to place into higher level courses, to obtain course credit (which is not identical to concentration credit), or to qualify for advanced standing in order to graduate in fewer than eight semesters. Read below for University and department policies related to these three areas.


Students may use international exam scores to place into higher-level courses at Brown. For example, a score of 6 on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Economics exam places a student out of Econ 0110 and allows the student to enroll in Econ 1110 (and does not require a transcript notation of credit for Econ 0110). Students with qualifying scores may register for more advanced courses with the instructor’s override even if their documentation has yet to be received by Brown. Students wishing to place into a higher level course using an exam score that is not listed on the equivalency chart below should consult with the appropriate academic department; the College Office does not determine placement.


Beginning in their sophomore year, students may use international diploma/certificate exam scores to obtain course credit if they need these credits for degree completion (see equivalence chart below). Some departments require students to submit course descriptions, syllabi, and/or samples of work (such as papers or exams) completed in international diploma/certificate courses before determining whether or not to grant equivalent course credit. The transcripted course credits will count toward Brown’s 30 course credits (minimum) graduation requirement.

Students who wish to use international exam scores to obtain more than 2 Brown course credits will be required to accept advanced standing. This means they will be required to finish their Brown degree in fewer than eight semesters. Otherwise, up to two Brown course credits may be transcripted for exam scores if these credits are needed for concentration requirements, the 30 course credits degree requirement, or for graduate and/or professional school applications, when placement credit will not suffice. 


Under certain conditions, students may seek course credit for qualifying exam scores to accelerate their graduation timeline by one semester. Students with examination scores that would confer 3 to 6 Brown course credits or more may apply for one semester of advanced standing. 


In order to allow adequate time for students to familiarize themselves with Brown and to examine the impact of advanced standing on their academic plans, students may not apply for advanced standing before their third semester in residence at Brown. (Transfer students may request advanced standing in their second semester at Brown.) Requests for one semester of advanced standing must be received no later than the end of the fifth semester standing. This deadline applies to all requests for advanced standing based on credits for pre-Brown tests and pre-Brown college courses.

Once a student applies for and is granted advanced standing, he or she may not rescind the request. Too often students who apply for advanced standing later decide that they would like to stay at Brown for 8 full semesters. Such students are disappointed when they learn that they are unable to so. Students are therefore strongly encouraged to delay applying for advanced standing until they have declared their concentration and are certain about this decision.


It is possible to obtain concentration credit WITHOUT having course credit transcripted. Consult with your concentration advisor about the pertinent policies in your concentration.

Transcription of a course credit for an international exam score does not mean that concentration credit has been earned. For example, exam-based credits transcripted for Math 0090 and Math 0100 do NOT automatically earn concentration credit when such courses are required or elective courses in a concentration. Academic departments determine whether or not non-Brown credits fulfill concentration requirements. Students should consult with the appropriate concentration advisor to determine whether or not a credit transcripted as equivalent to a Brown course satisfies a concentration requirement.

If a concentration advisor approves an international exam score for a concentration course requirement that is not included in the course equivalency chart below, students should formalize this in the course plan section of their concentration declaration in ASK.


Brown University recognizes international exam scores for the subjects below from the following diploma and certificate programs: International Baccalaureate (Higher Level), A-levels, French Baccalaureate, Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate, Italian Esame di Stato, and the German Abitur. Other programs are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The tables below describe exam programs and credits that may be awarded based on exam results in accordance with University and department policies. Direct course equivalencies are also listed below. Students with exam scores in areas not listed should consult with the individual department about course placement. Exam subjects that do not correspond to a department and/or a field of study at Brown are not eligible for transfer credit.

International Program  Credit Awarded
International Baccalaureate (Higher Level)  One or two Brown course credits for a grade of 5 or 6 or higher, in accordance with department policies below. Students who also have subsidiary level grades of 5 or 6 or higher may consult with the dean about case-by-case consideration for one additional course credit.
British A-Levels (but not A5 or O-levels) One or two Brown course credits for a grade of C or better, depending on the department policies. (Limited to one course credit for a grade of D)
French Baccalaureate, German Abitur, Italian Esame di Stato, Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate  Up to two Brown course credits per principle subject, with department approval only.
Other "13th year" programs Determined on a country-by-country basis
Exam Minimum IB HL Score
Minimum A-Level Grade
Brown Course Equivalent (for placement credit notation or actual course credit - see note below chart)
Biology  5 C Biology 0200 and one unassigned credit in biology (A-levels: Biology 0200 and one unassigned credit in biology for qualifying results.)
Chemistry  6 B Chemistry 0330 (No transfer credit for Chem 0100) (British A-levels: Chemistry 0330 only for grades A or B.)
Chemistry   5 N/A Placement only into CHEM 0330 (No transfer credit for Chem 0100)
Economics   6 A Placement out of Economics 0110 (A-levels: Placement only out of Economics 0110 for A grade on the A2. Students with only A1 or AS ineligible for placement out of Economics 0110; also see note below.) 
Mathematics  5 C Math 0090 and 0100 (A-Levels: H2 qualifies for Math 0090 and Math 0100; H3 adds one unassigned Math credit to Math 0090 and Math 0100.)
Further Mathematics  5 N/A Adds one unassigned Math credit to Math 0090 and Math 0100
Physics 5 C Physics 0030 (retroactive credit requires completion of Physics 40, 60, 160, 470, 500, or a 1000-level physics course) (A-levels: Same policy as IB's for retroactive Physics 0030 credit.)
Psychology N/A N/A No IB credit or placement for students entering AY 2018-2019 and after. For students who entered Brown prior to fall of 2018, if placement beyond CLPS 0010 was granted, then another CLPS course must be substituted for concentration credit.
History 5 N/A One unassigned credit in history (including History of the Americas)
English N/A N/A No placement or exam credit
Languages (all other) 5 C Courses numbered 0100 and 0200 in the appropriate department


The difference between a placement credit and a course credit is that placement credit carries 0.0 course credit instead of 1.0 course credit.  

Students can place out of Econ 0110 with a qualifying IB score, A-level result, or pair of AP scores. They will not receive course or concentration credit for Econ 0110. Economics concentrators who place out of Econ 0110 must take an additional 1000-level course to meet the concentration requirements. 

Environmental Studies and Environmental Science concentration advisors will consider counting passing grades on International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations and other International Exam results toward the ES concentration requirements on a case-by case basis.