SFS/MSFS Spanish Proficiency Exam Spring 2024 Registration & Exam Dates

SFS Spanish Oral Proficiency Exam:


  • The Spanish Proficiency Exam is offered every Spring and Fall semester about a month before classes end.
  • The exam is administered in person:
    • Fall 2024: Registration deadlines – (dates are subject to change):
      • Round 1: February 12 – February 29
      • Round 2: March 18 – April 5 (SPAN 2161 students only)
  • Administration – (dates are subject to change):
    • Round 1: April 2 – 25 (general)
    • Round 2: May 3 – 11 (SPAN 2161 students only)

Please write ONE email to BOTH Dr. Anne Thinglum and Dr. Tatevik Gevorgyan with any questions regarding the exam.

All exams starting in S24 will be in person. Now that we have adjusted academically to COVID, we are returning to the original standards of proficiency pre-COVID.

NOTE: You must arrive early – 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled exam time. Your exam will begin on time and any lateness on your part will result in you having less time to complete the

See the “How?” section below for instructions on how to register.  Registration for the exam is done online. **No requests will be accepted after the Registration Deadline. **


  • Click here to complete the Registration Form for Round 1.
  • Click here to complete the Registration Form for Round 2.

Please note that the registration forms will only be available during the registration period for each round.

  • Expect a message from the program administrators with instructions and relevant information once the registration period has ended.
  • Students who fail the exam must complete SPAN 2161 or another advanced course before retaking it. Two cancelations within seven days of the start of exams will count as one failed exam attempt. No-shows are treated in the same manner.

Spanish SFS OPE Info Session

  • Wednesday, March 13 on Zoom
  • Click here to complete the Google Form to receive the Zoom link. For current Georgetown University students only. Must have a current GU Net ID.

SFS OPE Mock Exam Practice

  • The SFS OPE Mock Exam Practice Sessions will be from 2pm-3pm on the following Mondays: February 5, 12, & 26, March 11 & 18. Please use this Zoom link. For current Georgetown University students only. Must have a current GU Net ID.


  • The Spanish proficiency exams are administered ONLY to graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Service.
  • This is relevant information regarding who can sign up to take the exams:
    1. Students who plan to go abroad in one of the two summer programs for which the Spanish & Portuguese Department is responsible will take the exam at the end of the abroad program. The two programs that offer exams are Quito and Barcelona; they offer exams to SFS students the evening prior to the last day of classes for the program.
    2. Students who spend at least one semester abroad in a direct matriculation program do not need to take the exam.
    3. Students who are currently registered in any of the four sections of Oral Review (SPAN 2161).
    4. Students may first attempt to take the Oral Proficiency Exam after successful completion of SPAN 2002 or SPAN 2011. There is a new eligibility requirement for students wishing to take the Spanish SFS OPE while concurrently enrolled in SPAN 2002:  effective immediately, these students will need to have at least an A- current grade in SPAN 2002 and at least an A- final grade in SPAN 2001. They will also need to have scored an A on their mock exam in class. Transcripts and Canvas gradebook screenshots will be required to confirm this.
    5. Students who take the Department of Spanish and Portuguese’s Spanish Language Placement Exam and are placed into Gateway or above may take the oral proficiency exam at any point. Students who are placed into SPAN 2161 and who do not meet any of the abovementioned criteria are advised to matriculate into SPAN 2161 before taking the proficiency exam.
    6. Students who fail the exam must complete SPAN 2161 or another advanced course before retaking it. Two cancellations within seven days of the start of exams will count as one failed exam attempt. No-shows are treated in the same manner.
    7. Students are allowed to take the exam only twice. See School of Foreign Service policies for more details.
    8. Students who wish to consolidate their knowledge of Spanish may take SPAN 2000 Gateway before taking the exam.


  • The exam consists of a 20-minute interview with two exam administrators
  • It is divided into three parts:
    • Warm-up. During this short period, the examiners try their best to make the examinee comfortable by asking him/her questions on the here and now.
    • Nucleus (15 minutes). The examinee summarizes the content of the article that s/he has read just before the exam, thus demonstrating reading comprehension skills. The examinee should demonstrate the ability to situate the news within a historical perspective and draw parallels with similar issues in other countries, including, but not exclusively, the US. At the end of this section, the examinee should be able to state his/her position on the issue and state the reasons behind that position. Please note dictionaries are not allowed at any time. Also, the text and any notes will be turned in before the interview.
    • Close. The examiners may use this brief period to prompt, prod, and push examiners to perform some of the required performance in 2 above. The examiner should, throughout the exam but especially at this point, show command of pragmatics (politeness, turn-taking).
    • Reading Comprehension/Comprehension: The examinee understands the content of a newspaper or magazine article on current events and shows ability to 1) summarize a given text in a cohesive and coherent manner without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing his/her own view of the event, and 3) answer follow up questions showing both ability to comprehend and prior knowledge on general encyclopedic points related to the content of the article.
    • Grammar: The examinee shows the ability to both narrate and describe events producing paragraph-length discourse in all major time frames (past, present, and future). S/he may have problems regarding the use of ser/estar, subjunctive and preterit/imperfect contrasts but they should not interfere with comprehension. The reference point for ‘comprehension’ is the native speaker monolingual not used to exchanges with non-native speakers.
    • Vocabulary/ Professional Vocabulary: Vocabulary may be primarily generic in nature when dealing with personal topics, but the examinee shows command of professional, specialized lexicon when dealing with topics of interest (such as US and international economy, politics, and/or societal issues). Circumlocution and rephrasing are to be expected.
    • Speech: Speech has to be clear and not lead to confusion. Pronunciation, lexicon, grammar and paragraph structure should not be so faulty as to prevent comprehension by native speakers unaccustomed to interacting with non-native speakers. Discourse may still reflect the oral paragraph structure of the examinee’s own language rather than that of the target language.
    • Knowledge of Subject Matter: The examinee has to show knowledge of the geography, customs, socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures as well as the history of Latin America and Spain. S/he also has to be aware of and knowledgeable about the past and present status of the relationship between those countries and the United States as well as current issues of importance in the Spanish-speaking world.

How to prepare for the Exam?

  • To prepare for the expected level of linguistic accuracy and fluency as well as to accumulate the necessary encyclopedic and current knowledge on socio-economic matters related to Latin America and Spain, we strongly encourage enrolling in an SFS language course: 2001, 2002, 2161, according to your placement and following the guidelines outlined above. For students who meet those guidelines, please click Spanish Major and Minor and SFS Proficiency Exam Preparation Packet for more information about the exam.