Department of Languages and Literature

Language Placement and Proficiency Testing

The Department offers both language placement tests and language proficiency exams to assist Benedictine students in selecting the language course that best meets their educational needs and, in other cases, to establish their level of proficiency in a second language. This page explains the difference between these types of exams, as well as the policies and procedures associated with each one.


What's the difference between placement tests and proficiency examinations?

Language placement tests simply allow academic advisors to identify a language course offered at Benedictine (Arabic, Chinese, or Spanish) in which students are most likely to succeed given their current level of proficiency. These tests are administered via WebCAPE (online Computerized Adaptive Placement Exams) or through an interview with a member of the Department's language faculty.

Language proficiency examinations, on the other hand, in addition to being closely proctored, are more comprehensive and rigorous than placement tests, and they are designed to determine whether students have reached the minimal proficiency level necessary to satisfy the language requirements of their respective programs.

test answer sheet

Policies regarding language placement tests

    • Under no circumstances are language placement tests used by themselves to grant credit, fulfill any graduation requirement, or satisfy the language proficiency requirements of any University major or program.

    • However, if a student takes a Benedictine University language placement exam, is placed into a 102-level class or higher, AND completes at least one language course at Benedictine above the 101 level in which s/he earns a grade of "C" or higher, then s/he may request to be granted up to 6 credit hours (in addition to the 3 credit hours of the course itself). For example, if a student is placed in CHIN 202 (3 credit hours), and s/he passes this course with a "C" or higher, credit for CHIN 102 (3 credit hours) and CHIN 201 (3 credit hours) can be requested.

    • Students who wish to request such credit must do so by completing and signing a Petition for External Credit form. The student should then obtain an unofficial copy of his or her transcript, attach it to the form, and submit both to the Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature for approval.

    • All students should be aware that there is a maximum of 6 hours of proficiency credit in any one language allowed per student. Therefore, if a student places into a language class at the 202 level or higher and has already received AP or CLEP credit for 101- and 102-level classes in that language, s/he cannot also receive departmental placement credit for a course at the 201 level or higher. Please note that, once posted to the student's transcript, AP or CLEP credit cannot be removed.

Demonstrating proficiency in Spanish

A Spanish placement exam is required for students who have taken any Spanish in high school. The placement test is also required for students who have acquired a level of proficiency in Spanish in a non-classroom setting (e.g., native speakers, home use of Spanish or study abroad), and for those students who have a lapse of a year or more in their language studies.

In accordance with the policies described above, a student who takes the Benedictine University placement exam places into SPAN 102 or above, AND completes at least one Spanish course at Benedictine above the SPAN 101 level with a grade of "C" or higher may request proficiency credit. Such students should submit a Petition for External Credit form.

    • Note: there is a maximum of 6 hours of proficiency credit allowed per student.  Therefore, if a student places into SPAN 202 or higher and has received AP or CLEP credit for SPAN 101 and SPAN 102, that student cannot also receive departmental placement credit for SPAN 201 or higher.

    • Once posted to the student’s transcript, AP or CLEP credit cannot be removed, therefore it is highly recommended that students considering a major or minor in Spanish consult with the Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature BEFORE posting AP or CLEP credit.

    • Students seeking a Spanish major or minor should be aware that courses below the SPAN 201 level, although they count as hours toward graduation, do NOT fulfill any requirement for the major or minor.

For more information about the Spanish placement exam, or to arrange to take the test, contact Ms. Karin Hadley.

book pages

Demonstrating proficiency in languages other than Spanish

Candidates for the B.A. degree in some programs (e.g., English Language and Literature, History, Philosophy, Music, and Writing & Publishing) are required to demonstrate competency in a second language by successful completion of at least one language course at or above the 202 level. Students in the Scholars Program are required to demonstrate the ability to speak, read, and write a second language at a level equivalent to six semesters of college study (completion of the 211 and 212 courses in a language).

In addition to Spanish (major and minor programs are available), the Department of Languages and Literature offers courses in Arabic (ARBC 101, 102, 201, and 202) and Chinese (CHIN 101, 102, 201, 202, 211, and 212). Benedictine students can also use the University's consortium agreements with North Central College and Aurora University to take courses in languages not offered at Benedictine. Students who want to take advantage of these agreements must obtain a "Consortium Exchange Course Authorization" form from the Student Success Center (SSC), or BenCentral. Approval of the student's academic advisor and the University Registrar are necessary before a student may register for a course at the host institution.

While the final decision regarding fulfillment of a student's second language proficiency requirement rests with the student's program, the Department of Languages and Literature has traditionally helped students in other programs satisfy these requirements by proctoring on-line based proficiency examinations in several languages. Writing (online or pencil-and-paper exams) and/or oral proficiency examinations (conducted by phone interviews) in dozens of other languages can also be arranged through LTI (Language Testing International), a partner of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

For more information about language proficiency testing procedures, please contact the Chair of the Department.