SOAR Program Overview

Welcome Future Badgers! This page will help you prepare for your online SOAR experience by providing:

  • A full outline of the SOAR program
  • A list all SOAR task due dates based on your session week
  • The technology recommendations for the SOAR program and academic year
  • Tips for protecting your information and identity online

Scroll down this page or use the navigation panel below to prepare for your upcoming SOAR experience!

UW-Madison student having a virtual academic advising appointment

Student Program Outline

There are two components to SOAR: Academic Advising & Course Enrollment and Student Life & Transition. The content of the SOAR program is designed to help you have a successful transition as a new Badger based on these themes.

The SOAR program consists of the following:

  • Completing several important tasks before your session week
  • Attending a Virtual SOAR Welcome Meeting to start your session experience
  • Having an individual video or audio meeting with a professional academic advisor
  • Enrolling in your Fall courses
  • Enrichment content and live events focused on student life & transition

You will need to follow the process outlined on this page to complete the entire SOAR Program and be able to enroll in Fall courses. The times listed in the sections below are an approximation of how long it will take you to complete each part.

Placement Testing

Placement test scores help academic advisors learn about your skills and help you choose courses at the correct level in each subject. This is one of the most important tasks to complete before SOAR. During SOAR, your advisor will interpret your placement test scores and how they impact your course options.

In order to participate in the SOAR program, you must complete their required placement tests at least 2 weeks before their SOAR session. Failure to complete your placement testing on time may result in an inability to register for all your Fall courses. The SOAR registration system will require you to confirm that you understand this requirement. However, signing up for SOAR does not register you for online placement testing.

A pencil is laying on top of a UW math course exam paper packet.

Understand Your Placement Testing Requirements

Placement testing requirements vary between student types (freshman, transfer, and international). Click the tabs that match you below to understand your requirements:

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Freshman Students

Math & English: All freshman students are required to complete placement testing in both Math and English (or English as a second language: “ESLAT”), regardless of previous coursework or test credit, such as: AP, IB, CAPP, CLEP, A-Levels, or other credit-bearing exams.

World Languages: Freshman students are strongly encouraged to test in the foreign language they studied in high school, even if they have anticipated AP test credit. Additionally, freshman who have previous experience in Spanish, French, or German and who plan to take coursework in this language at UW–Madison, must take a placement test in that language to qualify and enroll in classes beyond the introductory level. Previous experience may include native speakers and those who have previous coursework in the language.

If you are interested in taking a course in language other than Spanish, French, or German, visit the UW-Madison Languages Placement Procedures page for more information. Additionally, many programs have a world language requirement. Be sure to review the UW Undergraduate Guide to determine your degree requirements for world language and consult with your advisor during SOAR.

Transfer Students

Transfer students are informed which placement test(s) they are required to take via email by the Office of the Registrar. Information about which tests you need to take (if any) is also available at the bottom of your Transfer Credit Evaluation, located in the Academic Records section of your MyUW Student Center.

If you have questions about your placement testing requirements, please contact Credit Evaluation Services at crediteval@registrar.wisc.edu.

International Students

Students who were required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS will take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test (ESLAT) instead of the UW System English placement test. The ESLAT is used to assess students’ English language skills required for academic work and to place students in appropriate ESL courses.

Note: If you are required to take the ESLAT, you do not need to take the UW System English placement test.

How to Register and Complete Your Tests

The UW System is offering a free, online placement testing process for summer/Fall 2021 students. Please review the information below for your required placement tests:

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UW System Placement Tests: Math, English, and World Languages (Spanish, French, and German)

Registration:

To register, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to go.wisc.edu/uw_testing.
  2. At the top of the page, click the hyperlinked text: “registration form for Fall 2021 students”*
  3. You will then be on a page titled Regional Testing 2021. At the bottom of that page, click the hyperlinked text: “registration form”
  4. The registration form will then load onto the page. Fill out and submit the form to register!

*You must log in to this registration page using your UW-Madison NetID and password. If you’ve activated your NetID but have forgotten your NetID password, you can reset it online with the NetID Password Reset Tool. If you have forgotten your NetID, you can recover it using the self-service NetID Recovery Tool.

Completing Your Tests

Within two business days after registering, you will receive an email from candidatesupport@scantron.com with a password and instructions to access the Scantron online placement testing system. You will then select the placement tests to take in the Scantron testing portal.

Each test will take approximately 90 min to complete. After you complete each of your required tests, please ensure that you click Submit at the end. If you have you submitted all your tests, then you have completed the placement testing process!

How to Get Help

For technical support and any questions about the placement testing process, please contact the Testing and Evaluation Services office at frontdesk@exams.wisc.edu.

ESLAT: English as a Second Language Assessment Test

The ESLAT will be taken in Canvas, the University’s online learning platform, and no registration is needed. You will see the exam on your UW Canvas Dashboard by the Monday after you pay your enrollment deposit. You will also receive an invitation to the ESLAT exam course to your Wiscmail.

If you do not have access to the ESLAT Canvas course, please contact the SOAR office.

Reporting Missing Test Score from Previous Year

If you already completed a required test through the UW System in the year 2020 or earlier, please use our Missing Placement Test Scores report form. We will work with the Testing and Evaluation Services office to track down your scores and connect them to your UW-Madison student record.

Tasks Before Your Session

After placement testing, you will have several other important tasks to complete before your SOAR session week begins. It is very important that you complete all tasks on time to have a smooth SOAR experience and avoid delays in your course enrollment process.

During Your SOAR Session

As our SOAR reservation process described, your SOAR session week is the span of time where you will be focused on academic advising and course enrollment this summer. You will not need to dedicate all your time to SOAR during your session week. However, you should have flexible availability during your session week to complete your SOAR requirements. The information below outlines your SOAR session week experience and time commitments. 

Attend Your Session’s Virtual SOAR Welcome Meeting (120 min)

All students are required to attend this synchronous online event at the start of their SOAR session week. This event will take place on Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central Time via Zoom. Zoom login information will be provided via email before your session week.

During your SOAR Virtual Welcome Meeting, you will:
  • Be welcomed by University Leadership,
  • Hear updates about the fall semester,
  • Review the SOAR program requirements & expectations, and
  • Learn more about life in the Badger community

Please note: This is a student-only event. We will have a separate livestream via Zoom for the registered parents and family members in each session week on the same day (Monday) from 1:00-2:45 p.m. Central Time.

UW-Madison staff smiling behind a window that has "Welcome" pained on it

Meet with an Online Academic Advisor (at least 30 minutes)

Your SOAR advising appointment will be a scheduled video or audio call with an Academic Advisor during your session week. This meeting is a key part of your SOAR advising experience, and one that advisors look forward to! During your advising appointment, you can expect to do the following:

1) Discuss degree requirements and course options for your first semester at UW-Madison.

2) Receive instructions for SOAR Advising hold will be removed and when you can begin enrolling in your Fall courses.

SOAR advising appointments will generally take place between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Central Time. Please plan to have flexible availability for these timeframes during your session week to complete your required SOAR advising and enrollment tasks. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an advising appointment time that works for you based on your schedule.

Student in a video chat with an academic advisor

Complete Final Steps of Your SOAR Advising Process (varies by advising group)

After meeting with an advisor, you will have access to Step 5 of your SOAR Academic Advising course. This step will will give you more guidance about any other next steps from your advising group to do before and after you enroll.

Student looking at laptop screen and taking notes

Enroll in Courses (time varies per person)

Students are responsible for enrolling in courses, and this is where it all happens. Using what you learned from Canvas and your advisor, you’ll be ready to build a schedule and enroll in your courses! Campus has also worked over the past several years to make our enrollment tools easy to use and user friendly.

Logo for the Course Search & enroll app in MyUW

Attend your small group meeting with a SOAR New Student Leader

You will have an opportunity to virtually meet with small group of students led by a SOAR New Student Leader (NSL) on Zoom. This is a unique aspect of the program where you will:

  • Talk about what it is like to be a student at UW-Madison;
  • Connect with other incoming students in your session week; and
  • Ask questions to current students in an open and honest way.

The week before your session, you will receive an email invitation from our New Student Leader team with the date, time, and Zoom login information for your NSL small group meeting. We highly encourage you to attend an NSL small group meeting to start building your Badger community!

A SOAR New Student Leader leading a small group discussion with incoming students on the Union South patio.

Student Life & Transition Experiences

One of the goals of SOAR is to help you become familiar with campus life and to provide information that will help with the transition to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Our content within the Student Life & Transition Theme of SOAR will help you learn about what our campus has to offer and connect with your Badger community. Throughout the summer, we invite you to continue your SOAR experience with valuable connections to campus with the opportunities below!

Task Due Dates by Session Week

To see the specific deadlines for your SOAR session, type the first day of your session in the ‘Choose your advising week’ search box below (e.g. June 7, June 14, etc.). Tasks need to be completed at 11:59 p.m. CST on the date listed in the Due Date column.

SOAR Due Dates by Session Week

wdt_ID Session Week Task Date Available Due Date Time Commitment
1 June 7-11, 2021 Complete Placement Testing 3/15/2021 5/24/2021 90 min per test
2 June 7-11, 2021 Complete Preparing for SOAR in MyUW 5/24/2021 6/1/2021 30 min
3 June 7-11, 2021 Schedule your Meeting with an Academic Advisor Between 6/2-6/4 6/4/2021 15 min
4 June 7-11, 2021 Review Required Canvas Content - SOAR Academic Advising Course 6/2/2021 6/6/2021 Varies by advising group
5 June 7-11, 2021 Attend the Virtual SOAR Welcome Meeting: 9:00-11:00 a.m. via Zoom 6/7/2021 6/7/2021 120 min
6 June 7-11, 2021 Meet with your Academic Advisor 6/7/2021 6/11/2021 At least 30 min
7 June 7-11, 2021 Enroll in Courses After Meeting with Your Advisor As soon as possible Varies per person
8 June 7-11, 2021 Complete Final SOAR Advising Tasks After Meeting with Your Advisor At your own pace Varies by advising group
9 June 7-11, 2021 Participate in SOAR Live Events N/A Varies by event
10 June 7-11, 2021 Complete Canvas content - SOAR Student Life & Transition course 6/2/2021 N/A; At your own pace 100 min
Session Week

SOAR for Parents & Families

The Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) is committed to providing parents and adult family members of incoming students with the necessary support to help facilitate a successful transition for their students. Students: Please register any family support you would like included for our SOAR Parent & Family content and communications on Step 4 of your SOAR reservation.

Click the button below to visit our SOAR for Parents & Families page to learn more about what we will offer our future Badger families!

Go to SOAR for Parents & Families page

UW student and mother pose with Badger gear

Technology & Connectivity

The SOAR program is being delivered in a fully online format. We want to ensure all of our students know the tools needed to complete the program and be prepared for the academic year. During SOAR, you will use multiple online platforms to complete tasks, connect with your advisor, and learn about campus life and academics.

Below we have outlined the recommended hardware, software, and connectivity needed to get the most out of your SOAR experience.

To learn more about what technology is recommended during the academic yeear and options for purchasing hardware, visit the UW-Madison Getting Started with Tech website.

Student completing coursework in Canvas

Hardware (Computer)

We recommend that students use either a desktop or laptop computer with a webcam and microphone to have the best experience with our campus technology. At minimum, students will need the following hardware to complete the SOAR program:

  • A tablet, laptop, or desktop computer for completing Canvas content
    • Completing the Canvas course on a smartphone is possible, but this is not recommended and will be a lower quality user experience.
    • We recommend using Windows 10 or/and High Sierra or later versions for Macs
  • As back-up phone (landline or cellphone) may be needed

Software & Applications

Most applications used for SOAR provide web-based platforms that do not require you to install additional software.

Recommended web browsers are Chrome and Firefox. You may use Edge or Safari, but please note that the Canvas courses may not function properly in this browser. Avoid using Internet Explorer.

Below is a list of applications you will use for the SOAR program:

How to Connect (Internet)

A reliable, high-speed internet connection is important to being able to participate fully in online learning. We recommend an internet connection with: 

  • 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed
  • 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed 
  • A ‘ping time’ of less than 75 milliseconds. 

To understand your internet speed, check your internet speed using a speed test and compare it against the recommended specification above. A wireless hotspot or tethering from a phone might not be sufficient. 

For help determining these specifications, contact the DoIT Help Desk’s Home Internet Connection Doctor Service.

If you are concerned about your internet connection, please check out DoIT’s tips for how to manage slower internet or low bandwidth.

Protecting Your Information & Identity

When participating online, for SOAR or any other activity, it is important to take steps to protect your identity and information, as well as verify the individuals you are working with. We encourage you to review Scams to avoid: protecting your online identity from the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology for more information.

For SOAR, please remember the following:

  • University staff will NEVER ask you for your password or My UW login information.
  • All communication will come from a wisc.edu email address. If you receive email from an unknown individual you can look them up in the campus directory or contact the SOAR Program for assistance.
  • There is no cost to attend SOAR, and you will not be asked for any credit card or account information from SOAR staff. You will receive information from the Bursar’s Office later this summer about how to securely pay your tuition and fees bill.
  • A campus ID number or NetID username can often be used to help identify the correct student to a staff member. You will NEVER be asked for your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) as a way to verify your identity.
  • Your interactions with University staff and students will always be scheduled. Do not accept impromptu or unsolicited meetings from unknown individuals. 
Student laptop with various UW stickers

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

VPNs are helpful for students who are worried about the security or accessibility of their internet connection (i.e. public Wifi).  If you are in need of a VPN service to connect to a public connection, please download, install, and connect via the WiscVPN client (choose the operating system that matches your device for specific instructions). This will allow you to connect to the UW-Madison network from anywhere.

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

SOAR is committed to creating a program where everyone can participate. We value disability as an aspect of diversity and want to ensure that you are able to fully participate in all programming available to you.

Click the button below for more information requesting accommodations for placement testing, the SOAR program, and the academic year (all of which are separate processes):

Go to Accommodations Information page

Interpreter provides caption-to-screen Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) service during a presentation.