Credit by Exam FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Registration for the Credit-By-Exam for school year 2022-23 is now closed. Registration for next year’s Credit-By-Exam will be open late August 2023.

What is Credit by Exam?
Arlington Public Schools allows students with the ability to comprehend and communicate in languages other than English to earn high school credits through selected world language tests. Credit-by-Exam measures students’ foreign language proficiency in order to award up to three high school foreign language credits. We use nationally-normed tests such as STAMP, AAPPL, OPI, and the WPT for most languages.

How does participating in the credit by exam help students?
If students wish to graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma (ASD), they will need to earn world language credits. These are earned by taking three years of one language (3 x 1) or two years each of two different languages (2 x 2). The successful participation in the exam will allow students to earn credits that they can use towards the ASD.

How many world language credits can be earned through the exam?
Students can earn between one and three high school world language credits, depending on their performance on the exam.

How will my score on this assessment help me obtain a Seal of Biliteracy?
Since 2015-16 the Board of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy certifies attainment of a high level of proficiency by a graduating high school student in one or more languages in addition to English. The Seal of Biliteracy will be awarded to students who pass all required End-of-Course Assessments in English at the proficient or higher level (11th grade SOL Reading and Writing exams) and who score an intermediate-mid level or higher in another language on a nationally-normed exam.

Who is eligible to take the exam?
Students in grades 9-12 who have had substantial experience outside of school listening, speaking, reading and writing in their native language are able to take the exam. Students who have earned credit(s) already in the language of the exam can also take the exam and qualify for additional credits, based on their performance on the exam. Additionally, if a student was placed into level 3, for example, because of a high level of proficiency and did not earn credit for earlier levels, that student may take the exam for retroactive credit.
Students interested in receiving credit by taking a language proficiency test should at least be at the Novice Mid level and be able to:

  • Ask and answer simple questions.
  • Make simple statements in a conversation.
  • Communicate basic information about oneself, people they know, and daily activities.
  • Express likes and dislikes in writing and speaking.
  • Fill out a form with basic information.
  • Read and write a list of daily activities.

A good Self-Assessment Grid tool can be found here: ACTFL Can Do Benchmark Statements.

Who is not eligible to take the exam?
Students who have already taken a class and did not pass are not able to take the test in order to try to improve their grade in the course.

If my child is not a native speaker of the language but has a high level of proficiency, can my child participate?
Yes, but the student must be able to read and write in the exam language. The exam proctors won’t be proficient in the exam language. The students must be able to complete all work independently. Please see the Self-Assessment Grid: ACTFL Can Do Benchmark Statements.

Will my child receive a grade for passing the exam?
If successful, your student will receive a “pass” grade for the course which will appear as a “P” on his/her transcript and signify that the corresponding levels as demonstrated by performance on the exam have been successfully completed. Your student will not receive any letter grade that will impact the grade point average (GPA). If your child does not pass, nothing to this effect will appear on the transcript.

What are the languages offered?
Most languages are available for credit-by-exam. Arlington Public schools is committed to finding tests for any language other than English, including American Sign Language.  The languages we, unfortunately, cannot accommodate due to the lack of availability of nationally-normed tests are:  Estonian, Ewe, Finish, Fula, Fuldude, Kannada, Lingala, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Mam, Mayan, Mongolian, Oromo, Panjabi, and  Xhosa.

How many exams are given each school year? Can my child take it more than once?
The exam will be offered once each school year. If your student does not pass on the first attempt, s/he may take it only one more time in the following school year. There is no cost to Arlington Public School students for the first time. Re-tests are at the expense of the student and the cost per test varies.

When will the exam occur?
Tests will be offered on Election Day in November every year. This is a non-school day for students and is a grade preparation day for teachers.

How is the exam scored?
The exam is scored by either a computer or an assessor who is proficient in the language of the exam. Results are final and cannot be appealed. Credits will be awarded based on the following:

ACTFL Proficiency Level Credits Awarded
Novice High 1.0
Intermediate Low 2.0
Intermediate Mid 3.0

What is the timeline for the exam?
The registration period for the exams begins in July every year. An automatic confirmation of the registration will be emailed to the person completing the form. Parents will be notified of results in the spring of that school year. Results will be sent to the student’s home and also to the student’s school counselor.

How can students prepare for the exam?

Based on the language of the exam, most students can prepare with a demonstration version of the test. Please see the following links:

Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Spanish: Test information | Sample Test

Portuguese, Russian: Test information | Sample Test (scroll down and choose all the sections for your language under “Form A.”)

Arabic for English Learners, Chinese-Cantonese, Greek, Hindi,  Korean, Polish, Spanish for HILT A/B students, Turkish, Vietnamese: Test information | Sample Test (Sample is in Spanish but it is applicable for all.)

All other languages: Test information | (A sample test is not available due to the format of this test.)

Where can I find more information?

Call the World Languages Office at 703-228-6097, or speak with your child’s school counselor.

Informational brochures in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, English, Spanish, and Urdu appear below.