Proficiency Exam for BSFS Students


  • BSFS students must have completed Intensive Advanced Arabic I (ARAB 215) and enrolled in Intensive Advanced Arabic II (ARAB216)/Non-Intensive Advanced Arabic II (ARAB217) or have completed an elective course such as Media Arabic (ARAB213, ARAB214), Business Arabic, or other elective course, PLUS enrolled in another advanced elective course (above 300 level) to attempt the Proficiency Exam.
    • If not currently enrolled in an eligible Arabic Language Course or if there is more than a semester gap in taking an Arabic course at GU, the student must take the placement exam before attempting the Proficiency Exam; in which case the placement exam score is only valid for the semester in which the exam was taken. If you are currently enrolled in an eligible Arabic course and completed the placement test with a sufficient score within the academic year, you may not need to sit for a second placement exam if you are taking the proficiency exam in that same academic year. A sufficient score is considered having taken Exam C and receiving a minimum score of 35.This also applies to native speakers.
      • FALL 2020: If the placement exam is needed to determine proficiency exam eligibility, please note that for FALL 2020, the exam will be taken remotely online.

When is the Exam administered?  

The Arabic Proficiency and Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Exams are conducted in November and April of each year. 

Exam Registration and Schedule:

All students (except Arabic Majors) taking Arabic Proficiency exam or OPI MUST register by the deadline. No registration requests are accepted after the Registration deadline below.

Fall Semester – Registration starts on the second Monday in October, stays open for two weeks, and closes on the Friday of the second week at 5 PM. Students are contacted by faculty administering the exam informing them about the exam date by end of October. Exams are held during the first two weeks in November.

Spring Semester – Registration starts on the second Monday in March, stays open for two weeks, and closes on the Friday of the second week at 5 PM. Students are contacted by faculty administering the exam informing them about the exam date by end of March. Exams are held during the first two weeks in April.

How to register for the Exam?  Follow the steps below to register. BOTH STEPS must be completed.

  • Step 1. Click HERE to complete the Registration Form by the deadline.
  • Step 2. Submit a $25 deposit check (or exact cash amount) payable to Georgetown University. Deposit payment must be submitted by the deadline at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Poulton Hall, room #200. DUE TO COVID-19, THE DEPOSIT HAS BEEN WAIVED FOR THE FALL 2020 EXAM.

Students who postpone their exam after agreeing to a time with the Proctor will forfeit their deposit. Should the student then postpone a second time, they will have to pay an additional deposit of $25. Please note that students must pick up their deposit by the last day of classes in the semester in which the exam was taken, or it will be deposited.

Arabic Proficiency Exam Format & Procedure

Prior to the exam:

Examinee is advised to review Arabic Articles on Politics, Economy and Culture using Arabic website to be familiar with Arabic authentic articles, such as:,

Using this or similar information, the examinee prepares an oral presentation that lasts 4 to 5 minutes on a cultural, economic, political topic or current situation related to Arab World. Presentation cannot be read. No personal narratives will be conducted.

Exam Time: The duration of the exam is 30 minutes minimum, 45 minutes maximum. Examinee must arrive at the office of the faculty member administering her/his exam at least 15 minutes before exam time.

Proficiency Exam Structure & Process:

The exam period will begin with a warm-up where the examinee is provided with three different articles on current Arab events (politics), Social News, and Economics. The examinee will choose ONE of the three articles for their exam.

The exam starts with 2 to 3 minutes of warm-up conversation to create a comfortable environment for the examinee by asking him/her several questions on their Arabic background. After this warm-up, the examinee will have 15 minutes to read the article they selected. It is up to the student whether or not they would like a dictionary.

When 15-minutes have passed, the exam begins with different language tasks according to the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Proficiency Exam in addition to the article selected. The examinee might be asked to summarize the article, then answer 4-5 comprehensive questions about the article; examinee should be ready to express her/his opinion on the topic and demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter.

Examiner may:

  • repeat the question twice if the examinee does not understand the question,
  • remind the examinee of exam duration time if the examinee slows down to answer questions or deviates from the current topic,
  • remind the examinee to avoid any Arabic Colloquial in the exam instead of MSA.

The examiner ends the interview by asking the examinee about her/his future plan.


Examination results shall be sent to the student’s Dean within 5-7 days after the exam. Students should NOT contact the examiner or exam coordinator before this period.


Examinees who pass the proficiency exam are able to satisfy simple personal needs and social demands to survive in an Arab environment. They should also sustain discourse through use of oral paragraph, engage in a conversation dealing with current events, and demonstrate familiarity with relevant historical, cultural, political, and economic information. 

PASS on the proficiency exam is comparable to achieving an Advanced Low to Advanced Mid on the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL) rating.

PASS scale:

  • For MSFS students: Advanced Mid (ACTFL scale)
  • For SFS students: Advanced Low (ACTFL scale)
  • For MAAS students: Advanced mid (ACTFL scale)

Please contact exam coordinator, Professor Ghayda Al Ali with questions regarding the exam