Proficiency Examinations

About the Proficiency Exam

Proficiency exams are offered to current UB students who have taken French, Italian or Spanish in high school or elsewhere. The results of the exams will determine exemption from courses offered to fill the language requirement. The exam does not result in credits being awarded for proficiency in the language.

Who should take the exam?

This exam is intended for students who must meet the Foreign Language General Education for graduation (those who entered UB prior to Fall 2016), or for students who are planning to study abroad but have no contact with a previous language instructor to fill out their proficiency form.

Students should take the test if they have had a significant amount of foreign language study prior to entering college. It is especially recommended for students in their first year at UB and before registration in languages they have already studied.

Who should NOT take the exam?

Students who:

  • are hoping to get credit for prior work in a language
  • have already taken the exam at a previous sitting
  • received scores of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam in the language
  • are currently enrolled in a 100-level course in the language
  • have a high school diploma awarded in a country where the language of instruction is the language of the test
  • are transferring credits for language classes at other colleges which have been equated with 100-level classes at UB


Registration for the Fall 2018 proficiency exam is now closed

This will be the last proficiency exam that RLL will offer for students who entered before Fall 2016.  After registration, students will receive a reminder via email 1-2 days prior to the exam.

Exam Details

The exam lasts 90 minutes and includes:

  • Reading comprehension: Students must answer questions on selected reading passages.
  • Language production: Students will answer questions, complete sentences and write short essays based on given prompts.

Exam Policies

  • The exam is free of charge.
  • Students must register for the exam at least 48 hours in advance. Only registered participants may take the exam.
  • Students must bring their UB identification card to the examStudents without a UB card are not allowed into the room.
  • Students must arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the announced start of the exam for identification check and seating. No one will be admitted to the room after the exam has started.
  • Students will need two #2 pencils and a good eraser.
  • No dictionaries or study aids permitted. There are also no sample exams for prior review, but students can visit the University bookstore to see textbooks that are used in courses.
  • Cell phones must be turned off and stowed. Once the exam has begun, no interaction with a cell phone is allowed.
  • Students may take the exam only once. 
  • Students who need special accommodations through the Office of Accessibility Resources must contact the department directly at least 48 (working) hours in advance to arrange for the services.

Exam Results

Four to six weeks after the proficiency exam, results will be emailed to the student and to the College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisement and Services. No exam results are available by phone.

Students whose results do not exempt them from coursework will be advised on appropriate course placement. 

For students whose results do indicate elementary or intermediate proficiency, appropriate notation will be added to their record.

Please call (716) 645-2191, 9:00am-3:00pm M-F, with any questions regarding exam registration or policies.