Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment

The CLC currently offers two exam formats; a translation and a reading comprehension model. Beginning in Autumn 2016, the translation model will no longer be available for French, German or Spanish.

Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment — ARCA™:

General Information

The Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment (ARCA) has been designed to measure students' ability to conduct academic research by reading in a secondary research language. ARCA was designed using texts submitted by faculty in the departments and disciplines, and reflect the level of reading comprehension expected for students working in those areas. Examinees will have different texts than others taking the exam at the same time.

The exam consists of three parts. Examinees have 2 hours and 10 Minutes to complete the exam.



Time Limit

Part I: Reading & Note Taking

Examinees have access to the text and use of a print dictionary. Examinees read the text, making notes for themselves on key claims in the text's argument(s) and the most important supporting information on scratch paper.

At the end of the 60-minute limit, the text is collected and a Mac laptop is distributed by the proctor.

60 mins
Part II: Summary Protocol

With reference to their notes—but NOT to the text itself—examinees write a summary protocol in Microsoft Word. This is a reproduction, in their own words, of the argument of the text. Examinees should include the most important claims of the argument, and as much of the supporting evidence as they have comprehended.


Examinees may not include additional information they may know of, but which is not contained in the text.

At the end of the allotted time, the examinees are instructed to save and close the MS Word document. Then the original text is returned by the proctor for Part III.

30 mins
Part III: Short Answer & Translation

Using the original text again, examinees answer three short-response questions and then translate a short passage from the original text, in a new MS Word document.

The short answer questions are graded on examinees' ability to connect specific terms or phrases to the larger argumentative context of the text.

The translation portion is graded based on the clarity and accuracy with which the meaning of the original passage is conveyed.

Both the original text and computers are collected by the proctor at the end of the 40-minute time limit and before examinees leave the room.

40 mins
Sample Comprehension Exams

The exams listed below are in PDF format. If you are unable to view these files, please download the free reader from Adobe.

Sample French Exam*

Sample German Exam*

Sample Spanish Exam*

Translation Exam:

The translation exam is 2 hours in length. Students will have that time to translate 1 or 2 short passages (∼500 words altogether), drawn from texts in any field in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Students may use a print dictionary.

The exams listed below are in PDF format. If you are unable to view these files, please download the free PDF reader from Adobe.

Sample Greek Exam*

Sample Hebrew Exam*

Sample Italian Exam*

Sample Korean Exam*

Sample Latin Exam*

Sample Russian Exam*

*The exams are provided solely for the personal use of students practicing for the ARCA. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.