Proficiency Exam & Spanish Placement Exam

~For all students except Global Studies Majors

~These exams do NOT give units, a grade, or meet Area C3.

~The cost is $91.00.

~You should be at or above the same level of skill as a student who got a B or higher in either three semesters in college or three years in high school.

~Nursing applicants receive admissions points, if they pass the Proficiency Exam OR if take the Placement Test and get placed into 202. *ONLINE RN/BSN students may test at any official testing center. For the Placement exam, make sure the testing center can accomodate voice recordings. The Placement Test does not have an oral portion.*

~Exams (other than ASL) assess speaking and writing, including pronunciation, grammar, expressing events in past/present/future, vocabulary, spelling, and - if they exist in the language - accents, characters and tones.

~ASL exams are expressive only; no receptive is required. It requires knowing classifiers and ordinal numbers, and avoiding fingerspelling unless called for or to sign a special advanced word.

~Highly-proficient/native students often choose the Proficiency Exam. 

~The Proficiency Exam, when passed, meets the LOTER.

~The Proficiency Exam may be taken a 2nd time, after 1st results are back. 

~The Spanish Placement Exam, if it places you into 202, meets the LOTER.

~The Spanish Placement Exam may only be taken once.

~The Spanish Placement Exam results are valid for the 1 year only. For example: Spring 2015 testers only have Summer 2015, Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 to take their placed course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should take these exams?

What level of skill is expected, and how does one prepare?

How do testing appointments work?

How do I schedule an exam?

When are exams held?



Who should take these exams?

  • Students seeking to meet the CSUSM Graduation Requirement OR who want to place directly into Spanish 102, 201, or 202.
  • Students who do NOT need units, grades, or area C3.
  • Students who have both spoken and written skills in a language other than English. All languages accepted including American Sign Language (ASL). If you are unsure if your language will be accepted, please inquire at llc@csusm.edu or Kellogg Library 1107.
  • Students who believe they would place into a 4th semester class are good candidates for the Proficiency Exam. The Proficiency Exams assesses to see if you are at or above the level of someone who completed the third semester of college or the third year of high school, with a suggested grade of B. 
  • Students who are native/fluent are good candidates for the Proficiency Exam.
  • Students who took Spanish over 2 years ago at a college or university, but are unsure of what level they should enroll in, are encouraged to take the Spanish Placement Exam. If a student is placed into 202, they also meet the LOTER.
  • Students who took Spanish over 2 years ago in high school, but do not believe they should start over at the 101 level, should take the Spanish Placement Exam. If a student is placed into 202, they also meet the LOTER.
  • Nursing Applicants may test without a CSUSM ID.

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What level of skill is expected and how does one prepare?

  • The Proficiency exam asks you to speak and write, in response to open-ended questions. (ASL is expressive only.)
  • If you receive a score of "Pass" on the Proficiency Exam, your LOTER will be marked as "met".
  • If you receive a score of "No Pass" on the Proficiency Exam, you may retake the exam ONCE. You will need to pay again.
  • The Proficiency Exam looks for proficiency - not fluency - that would match a student who did well in a third-semester college course or in their third year of high school language, or who is proficient for another reason like home language or international schooling. Examples include expressing time in the past/present/future/conditional and common grammar rules and their exceptions.
  • The Spanish Placement exam is written only, but with more more "final" type questions.
  • If you are placed into Spanish 102-202, that placement is valid for 1 year only.
  • If you receive a score of "202" or "higher" on the Spanish Placement Exam, your LOTER will be marked as "met".
  • The LLC provides information via a Proficiency Exam Handout and a Spanish Placement Exam Handout.

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How do testing appointments work?

  • Arrange testing at llc@csusm.edu or Kellogg 1107 with the below information.
  • Make and keep appointments with the Language Learning Center.
  • A notice of 24 hours is required for cancellation and to reschedule. If you do not cancel within 24 hours, it will be at least two months before a reschedule is possible. This is necessary to be fair to all students waiting for examinations.
  • In order to provide a revenue-neutral proficiency evaluation service, while at the same time continue to attract qualified evaluators by offering a moderate but respectable rate of pay, the fee for language proficiency and placement exams as of January 25, 2016 is $91.00.
  • This fee must be paid on the day of the exam by cash (exact change only) or check made payable to: "CSUSM, Language Examination".
  • The fee is waived for Veterans on GI Bills other than Chapter 31 and for all Active Duty receiving tuition assistance. If this applies to you, state your military status when signing up for the exam and be prepared to show proof.
  • NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN FOR MISSED APPOINTMENTS.
  • On the day of testing, present a valid Photo ID (e.g. CSUSM Student ID, CA Driver's License, passport, etc.).
  • On the day of testing, arrive 5-10 minutes early. If you are late, you will NOT be allowed to take the test.
  • For all languages other than ASL, you should allow for a total of two (2) hours for the entire exam.
  • ASL testers should allowup to one (1) hour for an "expressive" component (there is no "receptive" component).
  • Results take 4-6 weeks. You will be emailed your results.
  • It is the testing date (not the turnaround time) that will be noted in your student record. (May graduates may test through the spring.)
  • Because we are a testing facility, we do not have accommodations for children.
  • If you have a disability and will require reasonable accommodations to take the Exam, contact us at llc@csusm.edu or by phone at 760-750-8191.

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How do I schedule an exam?

  • In Spring and Fall, you can stop by Kellogg 1107 OR email llc@csusm.edu.
  • In Summer, you can only sign up via llc@csusm.edu.

    ** Please note that we have concluded with exams for the Fall 2015 semester. We will begin accepting sign-ups again in the Spring 2016 semester.


    WHAT INFORMATION WE NEED TO GET YOU SIGNED UP:

     1. Full Name

     2. Campus ID Number (Some Nursing Applicants won't have it yet.)

     3. Contact Phone Number

     4. Preferred Email (where we will send reminders and your results)

     5. Current Standing (ex. Freshman/Sophomore/Junior/Senior)

     6. Any additional reasons for taking the exam (ex. Nursing Program, etc.)

     7. Are you enrolled through Extended Learning?

     8. Did you transfer to CSUSM from another institution? (Yes/No is fine)

     8a. If so, is this your first semester at Cal State San Marcos? (Yes/No is fine)

     9. Which language are you looking to take the exam in? (Global Business Majors may not take the exam in Sign Language.)

     10. Do you want the Proficiency exam, the Spanish Placement Exam, or you aren't sure yet? To help decide, read this whole page, the Proficiency Exam Handout and the Spanish Placement Exam Handout. The exam fee, $91, is the same for both exams.

     11. List 3 preferred dates & times from the times listed further down on this page. Please be sure to look at the correct schedule (Language Proficiency Exam vs American Sign Language Proficiency Exam).

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When are exams held?

Exam Schedule

*The ASL Language Proficiency Exam has its own schedule in a separate section (below this section).*

Exams run up to two (2) hours. For example: if you choose a 10:30 AM time, plan to be testing until 12:30 PM.

Time slots below do NOT show current availability. 

NOTE: Students who are pursuing online-only degrees OR who are based in Temecula may get the LOTER exam proctored at an off-site testing center. Please contact us for more information. Please note that this courtesy does not apply to any other students.

Spring 2016

Exam sign-ups for the Spring 2016 semester will begin on Monday, January 25th, 2016.

Monday, February 8th
9:00am, 10:00am

Thursday, February 11th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm

Friday, Feburary 12th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm

Monday, February 22nd
9:00am, 10:00am

Thursday, February 25th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm

Friday, Feburary 26th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm

Monday, March 7th
9:00am, 10:00am

Thursday, March 10th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm

Friday, March 11th
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm

Monday, March 28th
9:00am, 10:00am

Thursday, March 31st
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm

Friday, April 1st
9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm


American Sign Language Exam Schedule

ASL Proficiency Exams take up to one (1) hour. For example: if you choose a 10:30 AM time, plan to be testing until 11:30 AM.

Time slots below do NOT show current availability.

NOTE: Students who are pursuing online-only degrees OR who are based in Temecula may get the LOTER exam proctored at an off-site testing center. Please contact us for more information. Please note that this courtesy does not apply to any other students.


Spring 2016

Exam sign-ups for the Spring 2016 semester will begin on Monday, January 25th, 2016.

Monday, February 15th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am

Thursday, February 18th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm

Friday, Feburary 19th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm

Monday, March 14th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am

Thursday, March 17th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm

Friday, March 18th
9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm


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