Office of Language Assessment


Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the questions below for more information about the Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment (ARCA). For any questions not addressed in the FAQs, please email

What does my department require?

Students are responsible for confirming with their department administrator about details of the official policy.

How do I register for the ARCA?

Students may register through their area Dean of Students Office, or they may register online ( For specifics about your Division’s registration procedures, please contact your department administrator or your area Dean of Students Office. The deadline to register for the Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment (ARCA) is Friday of the third week in Fall, Winter and Spring quarters and Friday of the second week in Summer quarter. Late registrations will be assessed an additional $30 fee.

How should I prepare for the ARCA?

The best preparation for the exam is to practice reading previous exam texts as well as journal articles and monographs in the discipline. You should be able to read these texts confidently within the time allotted for the exam. When reading within your field, you should also familiarize yourself with texts from a number of different authors so that you encounter a greater variety of styles of writing as well as the common terminology and vocabulary in your discipline.
PDF versions of previous Comprehension Exams and Translation Exams are available.

How is the ARCA scored?

Both exam formats are designed to represent students’ ability to read scholarly literature in a foreign language. The exams are graded based on a student’s demonstration of a thorough understanding of the text’s arguments and details. The minimum score for a High Pass (P*) is 75%, the minimum score for a Pass (P) is 65% and anything less than 65% is a Fail (F). 

How should I Interpret my score?

Both exam formats are designed to represent students’ ability to read scholarly writing in a foreign language. The exams are graded based on a student’s demonstration of a thorough understanding of the text’s arguments and details.

What does a High Pass mean?
An examinee must be able to read and understand a text of 600-700 words in one hour with the aid of a print dictionary only. In order to earn a High Pass, the examine must be able to synthesize the text and reproduce all or nearly all of the essential claims in its argument in a summary protocol written in English. The examinee must also be able to explain the relationship of isolated details of the exam text to the overall argument. And finally, the examinee must be able to translate a short passage from the exam text with a high degree of accuracy and clarity.

What does a Pass mean?
A grade of Pass generally indicates that the examinee has misunderstood more than one major claim in the text’s argument or has omitted more than one major claim from the summary protocol. An examinee earning a Pass typically has a correct understanding of the overall text but not a full grasp of all segments of its argument.

What does a Fail mean?
A grade of Fail indicates that an examinee has demonstrated significant misunderstandings of the main features of the text’s argument.

How will I be charged for the ARCA?

There is a $90 fee for taking the Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment. The fee is assessed to your bursar account once you register for the exam. Late registrations is assessed an additional $30 fee. Students taking the exam in absentia will be assessed an additional $80.

Is it possible to take the ARCA in absentia?

Yes, students who are not in the Chicago area in the quarter they would like to test may arrange to take the exam in absentia. Please keep in mind that 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 are responsible for finding a suitable proctor or testing center to administer the exam. Proctors cannot be a relative, friend, employee, employer, or someone with whom the student has a personal relationship. Further, students are also responsible for any fees the proctor may charge.

Students must send an email explaining their reason to take the exam in absentia to by no later than the end of the first week of the quarter. If approved, students will receive a proctor request form and instructions to set up a date and time for the exam.
Also, please keep in mind 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.

Can I register for more than one exam?

Yes. Students registering for more than one exam should contact as soon possible. If the exams are scheduled for the same day (i.e. Spanish and Chinese), it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for their second exam to be proctored as close to the scheduled date and time of the other exam as possible. Please see instructions for taking an exam in absentia. The Assessment Coordinator will determine which exam will be taken as scheduled, and which will be proctored.

I registered for the ARCA, and now I want to drop it. Will I be charged?

Students may drop for a full refund until seven days before the exam is scheduled to be administered. Students should email to drop the exam after the end of the add/drop period (end of 3rd week of each quarter).
No refund will be given to students who request to drop less than seven days before the scheduled date of administration or to students who are absent.

How will I find out the location of the ARCA?

Approximately 5-7 days before each exam, the CLC will send each student registered for a language exam an e-mail indicating the date, time, and location of the exam. The location will also be updated on the class schedules (

When will I receive my results, and how do I view them?

The scores of graduating students will be posted no later than the Friday two weeks before convocation. The scores of all other students will be available by the end of exam week at the latest.
Students will receive an e-mail from the CLC Assessment Coordinator informing them when their score has been posted. Results may be viewed on MyUChicago.
The CLC may also provide a results letter or students may request an appointment to view their exam copy via

If I fail the ARCA, will that stay on my transcript?

If you fail the exam, the score will be posted as an F. However, the exam listing and failing score will be removed from your record during the first two weeks of the following quarter. This allows time for students to view their results online, but the score won’t permanently remain on the transcript. If you were absent from the exam, your score will be entered as ABS, but also removed the following quarter.

Can I take the ARCA in a language not listed in the class schedules?

In order for the University to offer a particular language for a Graduate Reading exam, there must be someone on campus who can create and grade the exam in that language. If you would like to take an exam in a language not currently listed on the class schedules, email at least 1 quarter in advance. This will allow time to determine whether a grader can be found for the exam requested.