Language Competency Exams

Special Arrangements in the Time of COVID-19

Students may satisfy the core curriculum language requirement by passing a competency exam. We encourage students who successfully pass this exam in a language taught here to continue their studies by enrolling in the next level (202 or upper division, if you have adequate proficiency). The development of advanced proficiency will serve you in graduate school or in your career.

Students should be aware that, in general, it is more difficult to pass the competency exam than to take and pass a course at the equivalent level. This is because in a course there are multiple grade components (homework, presentations, quizzes, participation, etc.), and one’s strengths in some areas may compensate for weaknesses in others. Therefore, we recommend that only students confident in their level of proficiency in the target language consider taking the competency exam. 

General Information

  • Only USD students may take this exam.
  • International students who completed high school in their home countries are eligible for a Waiver of Proficiency (and do not take this exam) IF all classes other than foreign language were taught in their first language. International students who attended British, American or bilingual high schools do not qualify for the waiver and must take this exam.
  • No units are awarded upon successful completion of the competency exam. The academic record will reflect "waived by exam" in the language section to indicate that the requirement has been fulfilled.
  • No practice tests or study guides are provided.
  • Students who fail the exam will be advised as to what class they may enroll in for the following semester. This applies only in the case of the languages we teach.
  • This exam cannot be taken more than twice in a given semester and there needs to be at least a month between the two exam dates.

This semester there will be no exams given on campus.  If you have already paid, we will authorize a refund.

Off-site Testing

For Fall 2020, we are directing all students to use the services of Language Testing International (LTI) Read all the information below and please inform Dr. Santiago Rubio-Fernaz if you have any questions. Note that the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has waived the USD $35 registration fee for all competency exams taken through LTI.

A rating of Intermediate High as determined by LTI is required to pass any of the exams below.

Group 1: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Exams C-H may be taken by anyone who would like to attempt a higher rating; Exam A is not accepted. The fee is for each is $50.  Choose one of these two exams.

ACTFL Listening Proficiency Test® (LPT) Exam B: 

ACTFL Reading Proficiency Test® (RPT) Exam B:

Because the exams above are not available in most languages, take either of these:

Group 2: Pashto and Persian Farsi. Forms 4 and 5 may be taken by anyone who would like to attempt a higher rating. Forms 1 and 2 are not accepted. The fee varies by language; most are $105-$159.

Oral Proficiency Interview by Computer (OPIc) Form 3:

Group 3: Afrikaans, Akan-Twi, Albanian, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cambodian, Cebuano, Chavacano, **Chechen, Cantonese Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dari, Dutch, Finnish, Ga, Georgian, Greek (Modern), Guajarati, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Ilocano, Indonesian, Javanese, Kazakh, Kikongo, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Korean, Krio, **Kurdish-Kurmanji, Kurdish-Sorani, Lao, **Lingala, Malay, Malayalam, Mandingo-Bambara, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Serbian/Croatian, **Sindhi, Sinhalese, Slovak, Somali, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Tausug, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Wolof, Yoruba and Zulu

Forms 4 and 5 may be taken by anyone who would like to attempt a higher rating. Forms 1 and 2 are not accepted. The fee varies by language; most are $105-$159.

Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Form 3: 

 **Limited interviewer availability.

Registration Instructions for LTI testing:

  1. Notify Dr. Rubio-Fernaz of the language exam you plan to take with LTI.  
  2. Contact LTI directly ( as soon as possible to arrange registration details, the date of the exam, and to make payment. USD has no proctoring or any other agreement with this company. We cannot answer questions or resolve registration issues. It is recommended that you carefully read the information for each exam posted in the links above prior to contacting LTI.
  3. Note that if you arrange for the OPI exam you need to specify your time zone so that your personal interviewer calls you on time. If you cannot be reached within 5 minutes, you will not receive a refund. 
  4. Designate with LTI that Dr. Rubio-Fernaz receive your results at

Please note that exams usually require between two and 21 business days to be fully evaluated (the OPI Oral Proficiency Interview takes the most time to be evaluated). In most cases students can pay an express fee of $50 to reduce the evaluation time. When Dr. Rubio-Fernaz receives test ratings, he will send notification by email and prepare grade reports.

Grade reports are submitted to the Dean's Office in the College of Arts and Sciences, which then approves and forwards them to the Office of the Registrar. Please allow three weeks for notation of passing to appear on your academic record. Thereafter, contact the One-Stop Center to find out why it has not yet posted.