Language Exams

Registration for Language Exams

The deadline to submit this request is Friday at 3PM of the third week of the quarter.

Late submissions for the language exam must be approved by the Office of Language Assessment and are not guaranteed registration for the language exam. If a late submission is approved by the Office of Language Assessment, a $30 late registration fee will be assessed.

Late registration for the reading course is not allowed.

For registration questions, please contact the Dean of Students Office  (773-702-8217 | Suite 104). For questions about the examination, please contact the Office of Language Assessment.

NOTE: It is strongly encouraged that your first attempt of the language exam or reading course occurs at least two quarters before your scheduled graduation. This will give you the opportunity to re-take it, if necessary, without delaying graduation.

Student Recommendations on Studying for the Language Exams

Recommended Books

  • Celia Brickman, A Short Course in Reading French
  • Coles Dodd Reading German
  • Edward M. Stack Reading French in the Arts and Sciences
  • April Wilson German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German
  • Roger Hawkins and Richard Towell, French Grammar and Usage (Fourth Edition)
  •  Wendel and Sandberg German for Reading
  • Sandberg and Tatham, French for Reading
  • English Grammar for Students of French

Other Resources

Study Tips

“Having familiarity with the German language from listening to and reading short German sentences quickly to answer questions was very helpful in my reading exam. (Listening and quick word recognition helps with reading better) A little extra confidence from being familiar with a few everyday sentences helped, too!”

“Whether you’re doing the 10 week quarter course during a quarter or the summer, there’s no way to get around the amount of work that is expected of you. You will take a quiz every class; have homework for every class; and will have massive assignments due just about every week. This is the case for every class, no matter who the instructor is. The Language Department has a set of requirements that you are expected to fulfill and the professor (usually a Ph.D. candidate) works in collaboration with the department’s requirements, receiving their curricula and syllabi and tailoring it as they see fit.

“Some of the major assignments you will be expected to complete include an annotated bibliography, translations, practice exams, and more translations. Expect 3 quizzes, 3 homework assignments, and a major assignment due every week. This means that you need to set aside time to study about two hours per day or however long it takes you to complete the chapter. Have a study routine and stick to it. This will be especially important as you get to the end of the quarter. Your attention span and motivation will begin to wane, and it’s important to remember that if you push through, you’ll guarantee yourself an A for the exam.

“At the graduate level, standard classes tend to have a heavy reading workload and about one or two papers per class we are expected to write. A language class will definitely be a bit disorienting, because of the amount of work you are graded on. Moreover, research language classes are extremely tedious. You aren’t practicing this language in order to speak it, you’re practicing it to learn how to read it, so it can feel a bit isolating.

“Lastly, don’t expect the professor to cover much vocabulary. They are trying to cover the rules of an entire language of the course of ten weeks. Your dictionary is there for you to use as well as the online one ( Once you learn how sentences are structured, words are flexibly used, idiomatic phrases are expressed, vocab will come so much easier. Know how the language is structured, and vocab will make so much more sense to you.

“Remember: expect to spend at least two hours per day on your language. At least. Read the chapter and do the practice quizzes they offer. It helps, I promise. And it’ll pay dividends when the exam comes.

“Lastly – whether you’ve taken German or French in college or not won’t make a whole lot of a difference. I didn’t take French at all and I think that wiped my slate clean. Those who’d taken them in college might be less motivated to do the work, but the quarter goes fast and you will eventually cover language material that goes beyond four years of undergraduate work. Not kidding. If you’re familiar with Spanish, you should be able to grasp things quicker with French (reflexives, plurality, and gender). If you’re familiar with Greek, you should be able to grasp things quicker with German (moods, declensions, etc.)”

“The syllabus will generally require two books: one for grammar (Reading [LANGUAGE] for Research) and a workbook. The syllabus will make suggestions to you about other texts that will help you – it’s entirely up to you whether or not you’d want to purchase them. They’re costly. I purchased them and used them very sparsely and probably could have gotten by without them. That’s to your discretion – does it fit in the budget and do you need the extra help? If you want to opt out of taking the class and just study for it and take the exam, I’d highly recommend buying all the books offered on the syllabus.”

Lastly, I’d visit the Languages Department website and scan the reading passages of the test. They have one for German and French. Read through how the exam is structured, and perhaps you can even set up a meeting with the director, Ahmet to ask him what might be some good tips for taking the exam. I’ve listed a few below.

Tips for the Exam

  1. Read through the entire text FIRST. Do not get bogged down with searching through your dictionary the first time around. Get a sense for what the text is about ;before you take out the dictionary. This will serve you so much better the second time around.
  2. Read through it again and write down words or phrases that you think are critical to help you understand what the text is about.
  3. Make sure you write down big themes as well as minute details. Both of these will be graded in your favor when you take the exam. The more you write the better.
  4. Be sure not to do direct translation of the text. Reproduce it in your own words. You might not get credit on the exam for translating something literally if you’ve missed the spirit of what it’s trying to communicate.
  5. Be confident. You worked hard. Don’t doubt yourself. You’ve got this.