Reading/Listening Tests

Taking the tests

If you are taking the reading and listening tests for your senior seminar class, the tests will be arranged by the CLS, and you will be notified by email. If you are taking the tests for any other reason, please contact the Center for Language Studies to schedule a test.

To take the tests, go down to B-153 and give the proctor your ID and tell them which test you are taking. The proctor will consult the roster to find the PassKey that has been assigned to you and will set the test up for you.

You do not have to take both tests the same day.

Since the test is adaptive, the length of the test will depend upon your proficiency level. Most students complete the Listening test in about 40 minutes and the Reading Test in 60 minutes, but you should allow yourself up to two hours for each test to make sure you will not be rushed. 

To prepare for the tests, read the description below.

Test Description

The ACTFL-BYU Computer Adaptive Reading and Listening Proficiency Tests reflect real-world, curriculum-independent tasks that align with the ACTFL Proficiency guidelines. 

Test Structure

  • Examinees will read/listen to groups of five items at one of three major ACTFL levels: Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior. 
  • Each item consists of a single passage followed by a single multiple-choice question.
  • After each set of 5 items, the test will grade examinee performance and administer another set of questions whose level is determined by the number of correct answers on the first set of questions. 
  • To establish a floor and ceiling rating, a range of question difficulties will be presented.
  • When examinees see items that are above their ability level, it is an indication that they have demonstrated sustained ability at the lower level and are being tested at the next higher level.

Level Differences

  • As the scale represents distinct steps of progress, the item difficulty at each level will be markedly different. 
  • To maintain alignment with listening, for example, ACTFL Intermediate level descriptors allow for clarification and repetition with sympathetic interlocutors, thus the test allows examinees to hear each passage twice. At the Advanced and Superior levels, however, the descriptors state a higher comprehension expectation, thus examinees can only listen to each passage once. 
  • With reading, questions at the lower level ask straightforward comprehension of authentic short texts on content needed for daily life that reflect the Intermediate level. Yet as the scale progresses to the Superior, the linguistic demands increase so that examinees need to answer nuanced questions on texts that are longer and deal with abstract issues. 
  • A more detailed description of the content at each level is found below.

Description of Level Question Content

Intermediate Questions: For these questions, you will be asked to comprehend the factual information contained in:

  • announcements
  • advertisements
  • and similar materials

Advanced Questions: For these questions, you will be asked to comprehend:

  • lengthy instructions
  • detailed descriptions
  • reports
  • and other narrative materials about real-world events

Superior Questions: For these questions, you will be asked to comprehend abstract reasoning and the opinions epressed to support arguments made in:

  • editorials
  • technical reports
  • country reports
  • and similar complex evaluative texts


  • Results will be available from the CLS approximately one week after the end date of the testing period.

Test Preparation