Arabic Language Placement and Proficiency Exams

Arabic Language Placement Test Guidelines

Placement test

All students – including incoming transfers – are required to take an Arabic placement test before enrolling in courses. The placement test is designed to determine if a student should follow the Non-native or the Heritage track. It will also determine at what level of instruction a student will begin his/her studies.*

*Students with no previous experience in Arabic should simply preregister for an introductory course after a short meeting with an Arabic instructor. After the meeting, they may register for ARAB-011 Intensive First Level Modern Standard Arabic I.

How to take the placement test

  • The proctored Arabic placement exam is administered on campus during New Student Orientation.
  • In order to take the language placement exam, you must enroll on Moodle.
    • Go to Georgetown University’s Canvas login page at
    • Log in using your NetID and NetID password.Note: If you need help with your NetID, contact the GU-Q IT Help Desk.
    • Click on the exam called “Arabic Language Placement Exam”.
    • Follow the instructions on the placement exam site to take the exam.

Exam Instructions:

  • Please read all the questions’ instructions carefully.
  • Press “Next Page” or “Previous Page” to navigate through the Exam sections.
  • In speaking questions, press “RECORD” to start recording your answers and after you finish press “STOP”. Then Press “UPLOAD” and wait for the message “Upload Successful” before making another recording.
  • Always pay attention to the TIMER on the left side of the screen.
  • You have 2 hours to finish this test.
  • If you encounter a problem or a technical difficulty that prevents you from finishing the exam, ask one of the proctors to help you as soon as possible.

Arabic Language Proficiency Exam

Language Tracks and Proficiency:

  • Non-native track
    • Proficiency Target Level: Advanced Low
    • Proficiency Exam Requirement: Arabic Advanced Two (ARAB216).
    • Proficiency Exam Format: The exam is an interview with two Arabic faculty. It consists of two parts: speaking and reading comprehension. Reading comprehension includes short informative and narrative texts.
  • Heritage track
    • Proficiency Target Level: Advanced High
    • Proficiency Exam Requirement: At least one Arabic Post-Advanced course taught in Arabic
    • Proficiency Exam Format: The exam is an interview with two Arabic faculty. It consists of two parts: The exam is an interview with two Arabic faculty. It consists of two parts: speaking and reading comprehension. Reading comprehension includes newspaper editorials and op-ed pieces.

Exam Schedule

  • For Fall Semester:  Registration period is the third week of October. Exams are held in the first two weeks of November.
  • For Spring Semester: Registration period is the third week of March. Exams are held in the first two weeks of April

Exam Registration

  • Proficiency exam is open to juniors and seniors only.
  • Students cannot take the exam twice in the same semester.
  • Seniors should make sure NOT to wait until their last semester to take the exam.
  • All students taking Arabic Proficiency exam MUST register by the deadline specified above.
  • No registration requests are accepted after the deadline.
  • To register for the exam, click and complete the registration form below:

How to Prepare for the Exam

Students are advised to review Arabic articles and editorials on topics related to politics, economy, and culture, using authentic online Arabic sources and newspapers.

  • Heritage students are advised to read op-eds and editorials from newspapers such as Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Al-Raya, and Al-Ittihad
  • Arabic as a Foreign Language students are advised to read informative articles

Exam Format and Procedure

Exam Length

The duration of the exam is 45 minutes. Students must arrive at the location of the exam at least 10 minutes before start time.

Exam Structure & Process

  • The exam starts with a 2-3 minute warm-up conversation to create a comfortable environment for the students. This introductory part will include a few questions about students’ Arabic language profile.
  • Following the introduction, the examiners give students an article on a cultural, economic, political or current affairs topic related to the Arab World.  Students have 15 minutes to read the text on their own, without the aid of a dictionary.
  • The examiners will discuss the text with students, who may be asked to summarize the main ideas of the text, analyze a certain issue that the text raises, and give their own opinions about the argumentative quality of the text. Students should be ready to express their opinions on the topic and demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Non-heritage students will be asked about the content in general.

During the exam, the examiner may prompt or advise students by doing one of the following:

  • Repeat the question twice if needed.
  • Remind students of exam length and the time that is left for them to complete the exam.
  • Keep students on track if they are digressing too much from the topic under discussion.
  • Remind students to avoid using Arabic dialects in the exam.

The proficiency exam is pass-fail. Within 15 days, exam results will be sent to the Assistant Dean, who will then share it with students. Students should NOT contact the examiners directly to inquire about their results.

Pass scale

A PASS on the proficiency exam is comparable to achieving the following American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL) ratings:

  • For heritage students: Advanced high (ACTFL scale)
  • For Arabic non-native students: Advanced low (ACTFL scale)

*All proficiency exams are conducted in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) with no exceptions.

*Heritage students who spend a semester on main campus are not allowed to take the proficiency exam there. They must take it ONLY at GU-Q.