Department of Languages and Literature

Language Placement and Proficiency Testing

The Department offers both language placement tests and language proficiency exams to help Benedictine students select the language course that best meets their educational needs and/or to verify their level of proficiency in a second language. This page explains the difference between these types of tests, as well as the policies/procedures associated with each.

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

Language placement tests allow academic advisors to identify a language course offered at Benedictine in which a student is most likely to succeed, given his/her 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.

test answer sheet

In contrast, language proficiency examinations are closely proctored, more comprehensive and rigorous than placement tests, and designed to determine whether students have reached the proficiency level necessary to satisfy the language requirement of their respective program. Candidates for the B.A. degree in some programs (e.g., English Language and Literature, History, Music, Philosophy, and Writing & Publishing) are required to demonstrate proficiency in a second language by successfully completing 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 university study (completion of the 211 and 212 courses in a language or equivalent).

Important notes
  • No University credit is awarded based on the results of either a placement test or a proficiency exam alone.
  • A maximum of 6 hours of proficiency credit through the department in any one language is allowed per student. If a student places into a language class at the 202 level or higher and has already received AP, CLEP, or IB credit for 100-level classes in that language, s/he cannot also receive departmental placement credit for 200-level courses. Once posted to a student's transcript, AP, CLEP, and IB credit cannot be removed.
  • Courses below the 200-level do NOT fulfill any major or minor requirements in Spanish. The Department strongly recommends that students consult the Chair of the Department before posting any AP, CLEP, or IB credit in a language.


Demonstrating proficiency in Arabic, Chinese, or Spanish

A placement test is required for students who have taken any Arabic, Chinese, or 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 the language, or study abroad) and for those students who have a lapse of a year or more in their language studies.

Students who place into ARBC 102, CHIN 102, or SPAN 102 or above by taking a Benedictine University placement test AND who complete at least one Benedictine course in that language above the 101 level (with a grade of "C" or higher) may petition to receive proficiency credit through the Department. These students should submit a Petition for External Credit form, along with a copy of their unofficial Benedictine transcript. See the "Important Notes" above for caveats and limitations on the awarding of proficiency credit through the Department.

For more information about language placement testing, or to arrange to take a test, contact the Department administrative assistant, Ms. Elaine Ebeling.


Demonstrating proficiency in languages not taught at Benedictine

Students wishing to study a language not offered at Benedictine can use the University's consortium agreements with North Central College and Aurora University to take language courses at these institutions. Students who want to take advantage of these agreements must obtain a "Consortium Exchange Course Authorization" form from the Academic and Career Enrichment Center (ACE) 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 demonstrate oral and writing proficiency in dozens of languages by proctoring proficiency exams arranged through LTI (Language Testing International), a partner of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

book pages

For more information or assistance in setting up a language proficiency test through LTI, please contact Dr. Beth Vinkler. For more information about language proficiency testing procedures, please contact the Chair of the Department.