Office of Language Assessment

Questions about Eligibility and Policies

Can I use my language placement results to determine my eligibility?

  • No; language placement exams are designed for a different purpose and may not be a good indicator of your language proficiency.

Can I take the test again if I do not pass?

  • Students may only take a given assessment (e.g., German Advanced or French Practical) once within a twelve-month period. This means if you take it in Spring quarter you cannot take it again until the next Spring. We highly recommend you engage in formal language study before retaking the exam.

Can I register for more than one test at a time?

  • No; a student may only take one test within a given test administration cycle.

What is meant by two or three years of formal language study “or the equivalent”?

  • Some students may have placed into a higher level course because they have previous experience with the language. The highest college-level course you have completed or enrolled in determines your eligibility.

What does “significant experience abroad” mean for the Advanced assessment?

  • Sometimes students go abroad and do not take advantage of the opportunity to use the language. In order to do well on these assessments, you need to have had an experience studying or working (including volunteering or internships) in a region where the language is spoken and you need to have used the language to communicate on a daily basis. We recommend a minimum stay of at least two months.

Questions about the Assessments

What is the format of the test?

  • Both the Practical and Advanced Assessments are broken up into four skill components: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • The reading, writing, and listening sections are administered together in a live, proctored session. Students have two hours in total to complete these sections.
  • The speaking portion is a one-on-one conversational interview conducted on a separate day.
  • Click here for a detailed explanation examples of the test and task formats.

What kind of questions are on the test?

  • Proficiency tests aim to provide a more complete and accurate picture of what a student can do with a language, so the assessment tasks require you to produce language and describe what you hear or read.
  • These tasks are all open-ended; there are no multiple choice questions in these tests.
  • In the Speaking section, an interviewer will ask you several questions in a conversational format. These interviews typically last 15-30 minutes and include a role-play scenario.
  • In the Listening and Reading sections, you will be presented with a real life text or input and asked to either recall, summarize, or answer short-response questions about what you heard or read. These responses will be written in English.
  • In the Writing section, you will be presented with 2-3 tasks prompting you to write a response in the target language. These are scenario-based tasks that simulate real-life writing purposes and genres.

How can I prepare for this test?

  • The best way to prepare for these tests is to use/practice the language (speak, read, listen, and write, in meaningful, communicative ways) as much as possible.
  • There is no explicit testing of grammar or vocabulary, so “cramming” is not helpful; extensive listening and reading, however, would be very beneficial.
  • Keep in mind that you can only take each test once in a calendar year. For example, if you take a Practical Assessment in the Autumn and do not pass, you cannot take it again until the next Autumn. Therefore it may benefit you to wait until you feel more prepared, if you will be studying or using the language in the interim.