Reading Examination for Graduate Students
Graduate students who must prove proficiency in a second language for their program requirements may schedule a department reading examination with the appropriate faculty member of the Department of Modern Languages:
Semester Preceding Exam
Early in the semester preceding the one in which he/she intends to take the examination, the student must contact the faculty member named above for advice on how to prepare for the examination and guidance on the level of proficiency required to pass it successfully. The exam will require the translation of one or more selections from a book or journal article that is related to the student's field. The student may also be asked to provide a brief summary of the passage translated in order to demonstrate his/her comprehension of it or to translate brief texts that illustrate certain grammar structures.
Several Weeks in Advance of the Exam
Several weeks in advance of the examination, the student must pick up the appropriate forms from the Graduate College or the Department of Modern Languages and obtain the signatures of the Head and the Dean authorizing him/her to take the examination. In consultation with the appropriate faculty member the examinations will be given no later than the third week of classes of the fall and spring semesters and by special arrangement during the summer.
The student has two hours in which to complete the examination. The Modern Languages test administrator will select passages for the student to translate from the text agreed upon earlier or from a journal article and may include a short section testing knowledge of grammar and structures. The student may use a dictionary.
Expected Level of Proficiency
Generally, the examination will test the student's ability to read a text at the second year level of university proficiency. This level is described by ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) guidelines as Intermediate Mid. In respect to this examination, this means the ability to read, understand, and translate texts on familiar topics that use appropriate vocabulary and grammar structures within the context of the content area addressed.
Preparation for the Test
Students should have a strong general foundation in the foreign language. We suggest at least the equivalent of the first three semesters of college language instruction. (More may be necessary in the less commonly taught languages like Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Japanese.) Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in Modern Language courses as regular students or auditors to prepare for this examination. They can also work with tutors (names available from the Department of Modern Languages) and may consult the Modern Language faculty for suggestions for self-help materials.