Office of Language Assessment

ARCA Exam Policies

Registration

NOTICE: Before registering for an Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment™ (“ARCA”) examination, students are strongly advised to consult with their academic departments to determine whether they are required to take the ARCA examinations. 

Registering for an ARCA exam is handled in the same manner as registering for any class.  Students may register during open registration periods either through the office of their area Dean of Students or online at my.uchicago.edu.  Deadlines for ARCA exam registration are the same as the deadlines for class registration.  For specifics about divisional registration procedures, students should contact their department administrator or the office of their area Dean of Students.  For registration timelines, students should visit the Registrar’s website.

Late registrations may be allowed under certain specific circumstances.  Students needing to register after the deadline will have to file a late registration petition.  All late registration petitions must be made on the petitioner’s behalf by the petitioner’s Dean of Students or Department Admin directly to the Office of Language Assessment (“OLA”).  The OLA will assess each petition on a case-by-case basis because ARCA exams are matched to the applicant’s specific discipline.  A late exam registration petition will be granted only if the OLA already has an appropriate exam in the petitioner’s discipline in its exam pool.  If no appropriate exam exists, there will not be sufficient time to create the necessary exam materials and the late registration petition will be denied.

No late registration petitions will be considered if received after 11:59 PM on the Thursday immediately prior to the scheduled exam administration.  If a petition for late registration is granted, the applicant will be billed a non-refundable late registration fee of $30.00 in addition to the standard registration fees and any other late fees that may be assessed by the University for changes in registration after the end of Add/Drop.

Frequency

Students may take the ARCA examination in any given language a maximum of once per academic quarter until they have received the required divisional grade.  Students may take multiple ARCA examinations per academic quarter provided that (1) all requested exams are in different languages and (2) the requested exams are not offered at conflicting times.  In cases of conflicts, students will be required to reschedule one exam in consultation with an OLA representative.

Accommodation

The OLA is committed to serving all our test-takers and supports the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Eligible students requesting accommodations for the ARCA must submit their Accommodation Determination Letter from Student Disability Services (SDS). Prospective test-takers needing accommodations who do not already have a SDS Accommodation Determination Letter or will be requesting accommodations that are not currently approved must submit a request to SDS as soon as possible for a timely assessment of eligibility for accommodations. To apply visit  https://disabilities.uchicago.edu/accommodations.

Requesting Accommodation at Registration

Test-takers must request any required accommodations at the time of registration.  An Accommodation Determination Letter from SDS should be submitted to the OLA at the time of registration, and no later than the deadline for test registration.  If the student is unable to provide an Accommodation Determination Letter before the deadline (for example, if the need for accommodation arises after the deadline due to unforeseen circumstances), the student should notify OLA and SDS as soon as possible. In some cases, the OLA may be unable to offer the necessary accommodations due to time constraints or other circumstances beyond the Office’s control.

In such situations, the OLA may offer to transfer a registration to the subsequent administration, i.e. the next academic quarter, for no additional charge, or to refund the registration fee.  Unfortunately, no change in accommodation will be possible if the request is received after 11:59 PM on the Thursday immediately prior to the scheduled exam administration.

Cancellation

To cancel a registration, students should drop the exam in the same manner as they would drop a class.  Only cancellations made before the add/drop deadline will receive financial credit.  Check the Registrar’s site for exact dates.  Please consult the Bursar’s Office for details on financial credits.

If a registered applicant is absent from the exam administration, a grade of ABS (“absent”) will be entered for the exam on the applicant’s transcript.  No refunds are issued for exam absences or for late cancellations.

Late Cancellations or Change of Registration

Late changes to or cancellation of registration may be permissible under a a highly constrained set of circumstances.  If a student must miss the exam administration due to circumstances beyond the student’s control, then the student should have her area Dean of Students or Department Admin contact the OLA to explain the reason for the absence.

Acceptable reasons for late change/cancellation include the arising of situations over which the petitioner has no ability to control the timing, such as the death of a relative.

Requests will not be granted lightly, but in the select cases where they are granted, the OLA will either reschedule the exam in the same quarter or will request a refund of the petitioner’s registration fee if rescheduling is not possible.

In Absentia

Students who for academic reasons are not in the Chicago area in the quarter in which they would like to test may arrange to take the exam in absentia.  This option is available only for students who are away for an academic duty (e.g. field research) as part of their academic program.

Students must send an email explaining their reason for taking the exam in absentia to gradreadingexams@uchicago.edu by no later than the end of the first week of the quarter in which the exam is to be administered. If approved, students will receive a Proctor Request Form and instructions on setting up a date and time for the exam.

Students are responsible for finding a suitable proctor or testing center to administer the exam.  Proctors cannot be a relative, friend, employee, employer, or anyone with whom the student has a personal relationship.  Further, students are also responsible for any fees the proctor may charge.

Note that there is an additional $80 fee for taking an exam in absentia.  This fee will be assessed to your bursar account along with the $90 fee for the exam.

Fees

There is a $90 fee for taking an ARCA exam.  The fee is assessed to your bursar account once you register for the exam.  Late registrations are assessed a $30 late fee in addition to the standard late fee assessed by the Registrar’s Office.  Students taking the exam in absentia will be assessed an additional $80.

Languages

Regularly offered ARCA exam languages

Each quarter, the OLA offers ARCA exams in French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Spanish as well as translation exams in classical Greek and Latin.

Additional ARCA exam languages

Students may petition the OLA to administer ARCA exams in several other languages, including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Turkish; or translation exams in Biblical Hebrew under certain circumstances.  The petitioner must request the test by emailing the OLA at gradreadingexams@uchicago.edu before Week 3 of the quarter preceding the administration of the test.  If the OLA is able to hire qualified test developers who can create and grade the exam in that language, the petition will be granted.

During the Exam

Exam administration

ARCA exam materials are on paper, but students will write their responses in Microsoft Word on locked Macintosh laptops provided by the OLA.

Electronic devices

The use of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, electronic dictionaries, smart watches, etc. will not be permitted.

Dictionaries

Test-takers may bring and use paper dictionaries.  The dictionaries may be target language to English or target language to the test-taker’s native language, or may include English to test-taker’s native language.  For example, a test-taker sitting for the German ARCA exam may use a German to English dictionary.  If the test-taker is a native Chinese speaker, she may also choose to use a Chinese to English dictionary or a Chinese to German dictionary.

Dictionaries containing grammar rules can only be used if the grammar section is sealed/bound shut.  Approved methods for excluding the grammar section include using rubber bands, tape, a paperclip, etc.

You may use irregular verb index sections of your dictionaries during the exam.

Testing Materials

Testers are not allowed to remove ANY testing materials from the examination room, not even scrap paper.  Violation of this rule will automatically invalidate scores.

Additionally, once the summary protocol section has been completed, the summary protocol response must be closed before the tester may advance to the next section of the exam.  The tester is not allowed to move to the next section without first closing the summary protocol response nor is the tester allowed to reopen the summary protocol response after moving to the next section.  Violation of this rule will automatically invalidate scores.

After the Exam

Grading

All exams are graded by a single reader.  If the score is within 3% of a grade threshold, the exam is automatically flagged for regrading by a second reader.  Once the second reader has graded the exam, the higher of the two grades will be assigned as the final grade.

Review

After a tester has received a grade, the tester may request a review of the grade.  The student should email the OLA at gradreadingexams@uchicago.edu to schedule a review with a language assessment specialist.  During the review, the student will sit with the specialist to review the exam materials.  Students may not take notes or make copies in any fashion of any of the exam materials.  Students are not permitted to remove materials or copies of materials from the review.  Violation of this rule will automatically invalidate scores.

Appeals

If a student wishes to appeal a score, the student may request the appeal from the OLA.  In situations where an exam was only read by one grader (i.e., situations where the grade was not within 3% of a grade threshold), the exam will be submitted to a second reader.  Following the grading policy above, the final grade will be the higher of the two grades.  If the exam has already been graded by two readers (i.e., the score is within 3% of a scoring threshold), it will not be rescored a third time without a written request from either the student’s area Dean of Students or academic advisor.  If such a request is received, the exam will be submitted to a third reader and the highest of the three scores will be the final score.