Testing: SFS Oral Proficiency, Placement, Native Speaker

  • The Placement Test and the Validation Tests differ in substantial ways. The Placement test has been designed for students who have never taken Spanish at Georgetown. It is administered online and it can only be taken once. The Spanish Validation Exam (also known as the Confirmation Exam, NSO placement exam, or proctored exam) is a proctored test, administered twice a year, right before the fall and spring semesters begin. The Validation Exam can not be used as a placement exam, it is primarily for those students who need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in Spanish for reasons other than placement in a language course, for example, to fulfill the language requirement, or to advance in the sequence after taking courses at other institutions during the summer. Both tests evaluate vocabulary and grammar in context as well as reading skills, but not oral skills. This point is important for students in the SFS who must pass the Oral Proficiency Test to graduate. Please write ONE email addressed to BOTH Dr. Anne Thinglum and Dr. Tatevik Gevorgyan with any questions regarding the exam.

  • Please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin for a full listing of advanced credit policies.
  • (AP) Spanish (either exam) – For a score of 4 or 5, students are eligible to receive up to six credits for Advanced Spanish I and II (SPAN-2003 and 2004 in the COL, MSB and NHS; SPAN-2001 and 202 in the SFS).  In order to receive three credits for SPAN-2003 (for COL, MSB, NHS) or SPAN-2001 (for SFS), a student must place into and successfully complete SPAN-2004 or SPAN-2002 respectively.  In order to receive six credits for SPAN-2003 and SPAN-2004 (for COL, MSB, NHS) or SPAN-2001 and SPAN-2002 (for SFS), a student must place into and successfully complete a Spanish course at or above the level of Gateway. Placement is determined by SAT II score or departmental placement exam administered during New Student Orientation. Students who place into SPAN-2001, SPAN-2003, SPAN-2010 or below, as well as students who opt not to continue Spanish coursework at Georgetown, will not receive credit.
  • (International Baccalaureate) Language A – Students with a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level exams in languages other than English are eligible for credit.  In order to receive credit, students must place into and successfully complete an appropriate language course at Georgetown (see AP policies for specific languages above for more details).  Placement is determined by departmental language placement exams or SAT II scores for Spanish, French, or Italian.

SFS Oral Proficiency Exam

The Spanish Proficiency Exam is offered every Spring (April) and Fall (November) semester, and again during finals week for SPAN 2161 Oral Review students only.

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.

The Portuguese Proficiency Exam for SFS, CLAS, MSFS, Business students, and program directors is TBD for the Fall 2019 Semester. Students must sign-up in advance to secure a time slot, the sign-up sheet can be found on the Georgetown Spanish & Portuguese Department’s front desk (ICC 403). Undergraduate students must have taken at least ADVANCED PORTUGUESE II in order to take the exam, with the exception of students who has lived abroad in a Portuguese-speaking country, or are native speakers. Undergraduate and Graduate students must also prove that the proficiency exam is a requirement for their program, not just to add to their Curriculum Vitae.

Students may sign up in the Spanish and Portuguese Department (ICC 403)

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 information must be submitted before the end of the registration period.
    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.
    7. 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.
    8. Students are allowed to take the exam only twice. See School of Foreign Service policies for more details.
    9. After completion of Oral Review, students who wish to further consolidate their knowledge of Spanish before taking the exam may take SPAN 3000 Gateway or any other upper-level course. that follows a seminar style and thus encourages oral practice.

  • The Oral Proficiency Exam takes 40 minutes and is divided into two parts:
    1. Reading (20 minutes). The examinee will read the article without consulting any dictionary or outside sources. They may take notes on a blank sheet of paper provided, however, they cannot look at the notes page or the article during the interview.
    2. Interview (20 minutes).
    1. 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 cohesively and coherently without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing their 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.
    2. 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). They 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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. They also have 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.
    • The rubric for graduate students is very similar to that of undergraduate students.

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, students should complete the following sequence of SFS language courses: 2001, 2002, and/or 2161, according to your placement and following the guidelines outlined above. For students who meet those guidelines, please click here for more information about the exam.

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

Please visit this page for additional information.

For additional information about the Portuguese Oral Proficiency Exam, please contact the Director of Portuguese Studies, Professor Vivaldo Santos, by email here or (202) 687-5694.

Online Placement Exam

All non-beginner students who plan to take fall semester Spanish courses MUST take the online summer placement exam to determine the appropriate level for course enrollment unless they have taken the SAT II in Spanish (language or literature).

Students who wish to earn AP credit must take the online placement exam (unless they have a qualifying SAT II score) and take the appropriate course. For additional information about advanced credit, please consult the AP/IB Policies .

In order to take the language placement exam, you must enroll in the “course” on Canvas.

  1. Go to https://georgetown.instructure.com/enroll/T47NYL
  2. Follow prompts to enroll.
  3. Read carefully all the information on the homepage.
  4. Once you have read the instructions, you will find the link for the test at the bottom of the page.
  5. After you submit the last page of the test you will get a point grade. You can always see this result by clicking on “Grades” in the left menu. When done with the test MAKE SURE you go back to the home page and click on the link at the bottom of the page: find out here where to register (Links to an external site) .
  • Make sure that you have a reliable Internet connection. Set aside ample quiet time before you begin the exam so that you can complete it in one sitting; you will not be able to stop and restart once the exam has launched.
  • Close other programs running on the computer. Avoid distractions; focus only on the exam until it is completed.
  • To begin the exam, click the link only once. It may take some time for the exam to load; give it at least one full minute. If, after clicking once, nothing happens for over a minute, contact the UIS Service Center as soon as possible. Do not click the link multiple times: if you do, you will see a message stating that you have already taken the exam and you will not be able to access it again.
  • Do not use the Back and Forward buttons in your browser to move around within the exam. Use the links and buttons in the exam pages to proceed.
  • Do not click the final Save and “submit” button until you are completely finished with the exam.
  • If you encounter a problem or a technical difficulty that prevents you from finishing the exam, contact the UIS Service Center as soon as possible.

Contact information:
UIS Service Center: 202-687-4949 or help@georgetown.edu .
Spanish Department: Email Professor Alfonso Morales-Front .

Proctored Validation Exam

Students who believe they will place out of the College’s foreign language requirement in Spanish, and who do not intend to continue their study of Spanish at Georgetown, should sit for the on-campus proctored confirmation exam during New Student Orientation unless they have a qualifying SAT II score. Students taking this test should bring their Georgetown ID (GUID) to the exam; students will obtain this ID upon their arrival on campus for New Student Orientation.

Please contact Professor Annie Thinglum  in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese for more information.

Students who have taken the SAT II in Spanish should determine their level as follows:

  • 200-360 SPAN-003 Introductory Spanish I or SPAN-011 Intensive Basic Spanish
  • 370-480 SPAN-004 Introductory Spanish II or SPAN-011 Intensive Basic Spanish
  • 490-550 SPAN-021 Intermediate Spanish I or SPAN-032 Intensive Intermediate Spanish
  • 560-630 SPAN-022 Intermediate Spanish II or SPAN-032 Intensive Intermediate Spanish
  • 640-700 SPAN-103 Advanced Spanish I or SPAN-110 Intensive Advanced Transatlantic Visions
  • 710-740 SPAN-104 Advanced Spanish II or SPAN-110 Intensive Advanced Transatlantic Visions
  • 750-800 SPAN-2** (Any 200 level course)

Students who believe they will place out of the College’s foreign language requirement in Portuguese, and who do not intend to continue their study of Portuguese at Georgetown, should sit for the proctored placement exam during New Student Orientation.

Please contact Professor Vivaldo Santos  in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese for more information.

Native Speaker Exam

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese (henceforth The Department) is the only unit at Georgetown that can certify the native Spanish speaker status of a Georgetown student. Through The Department, Georgetown students who are native Spanish speakers have 3 options to certify their native speaker status. 

Option 1: Presenting an original document proving completion of a high school degree (or equivalent) from an institution located in a Spanish speaking country. The predominant language of instruction in that institution must be Spanish. Since these documents are normally in Spanish The Department usually reviews the documents. Nonetheless, check first with your dean’s office because different schools or programs may have different arrangements with The Department.

Option 2: Complete first the Spanish Validation Exam. Students getting a score above 80% in the Spanish Validation Exam will need to schedule an oral interview with The Department for final confirmation. 

Option 3: SFS/MSFS students can complete the Oral Proficiency Exam. If the panel of two evaluators administering the exam determines that during the oral interview the student has performed as a native speaker, they will mark the appropriate option in the results ballot.

The appropriate member of The Department (Professor Annie Thinglum and Professor Tatevik Gevorgyan) will communicate by email, or exam ballot, to the appropriate dean the results of the assessment. It is up to the different Georgetown schools to determine the administrative weight, meaning, or consequences of the native Spanish speaker status. In some cases it entails the inclusion of this status on the student transcript. For most programs, with this status, students can skip all lower division Spanish classes (Span 001-161) and register in upper level courses. We highly recommend that native speakers who have not been educated in a Spanish-speaking school complete at least one level of Spanish for Native Speakers (1 course is offered each semester).