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The economics proficiency exam is required for several economics courses. If a course requires this exam, it is noted in the prerequisites of the course description.

Exam Format

The Economics Proficiency Exam will be available online as a self-diagnostic assessment. The exam will not take place in-person on the Harvard campus this summer.

Registration Guidelines

You should take and pass this online exam before registering for courses that list the exam as a prerequisite. If you do not pass the online exam, you should not register for these courses. If you have already registered for one of these courses, you should take the test as soon as possible. If you do not pass the exam, you should drop the course and register for an alternate course this summer. Please see the academic calendar for registration and course change deadlines.

About the Exam

This exam tests your command of concepts and tools of economic analysis, and understanding of the mathematical techniques that facilitate their exact presentation and generalization. In addition to facility with algebra and graphical techniques, you are expected to be familiar with topics from introductory differential and integral calculus, including partial derivatives, logarithmic and exponential functions, and basic statistics. 

The exam aims for proficiency not perfection; if you do not pass the test it is a strong indication that you will not succeed in the course.

How To Take the Exam and Assess Your Score

  1. Download the exam.
  2. Read the instructions and take the exam when you are ready and unlikely to be interrupted. You should give yourself 60 minutes to complete the ten multi-part exam questions (requiring a total of 29 answers).
  3. Use the answer key provided at the end of the exam to assess your score. A passing score is a minimum of 12 correct answers out of the total 29 in the 60-minute timeframe. 

Please keep a copy of your completed exam for your records. You are responsible for assessing your exam performance and for any enrollment decisions based on your results.

Harvard College Students

See Harvard College Student Guidelines for information on applying summer economics courses toward your degree.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity policies apply to placement exams. Alleged breaches are referred to the Administrative Board and may result in indefinite suspension of registration privileges.

Students with Disabilities

Harvard Summer School welcomes students with disabling conditions to participate in all aspects of our academic programming. Students who plan to take this exam who have a need for accommodations should contact the Accessibility Services Office, by calling (617) 998-9640 or emailing, to discuss accommodation needs.  Please see Accessibility Services for further information.