Language placement exam

Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences uses an online placement exam administered by Perpetual Technology Group developed in conjunction with Brigham Young University. We currently regularly offer Chinese and Spanish language courses on the UW Tacoma campus, and have a distance learning test program, in collaboration with UW Seattle, for German beginning autumn 2012.

Helpful definitions

  • Language proficiency: A demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in a language other than English.

  • Language placement: An evaluation of language skill that recommends a starting language course.

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What you need to know about language testing at UW Tacoma

There are two options for Spanish language testing on campus. Please review the options carefully. There are distinct differences between the two and how they may be used to meet requirements. You do not need to test if you are starting a language series at the beginning (101).
  1. Language placement exam (WebCAPE) - Offered online through IAS. The cost is $10 and paid at the time you take the test. Your score is used to evaluate your level and place you in the appropriate class. No credit or grade is attached to this exam. It is not proctored and can be taken whenever you like. Because it is used to place you in a language class, it is very important that the test results reflect your true ability. If you use outside resources, translation programs or get help from another person, your test results will be skewed, and you may be placed in a class that is above your level. This will not benefit you in any way, and can work against you if you place into a class that is too difficult for you. The placement exam is appropriate for students wanting to take language classes at the 100-300 level.

    ** Once you take the exam, the IAS office will receive your score. You will need to request an entry code for the appropriate Spanish course placement. IAS staff will verify your course placement from the WebCAPE scores and issue you the appropriate entry code. Please note in the comment section that you took the WebCAPE placement exam.

  2. Spanish language proficiency exam (SP100A) - Offered in a proctored environment through the Office of Undergraduate Education. The cost is $25 and registration and payment online is required prior to taking the test. This proctored exam tests your proficiency in the Spanish language. If you think that you may test out of the general university language requirement (101 and 102), and your major does not require additional language proficiency beyond the 102 level (10 college level credits), you must take this proctored exam and receive an official score that places you beyond 102. No credit or grade is attached to this exam. Your score will be recorded in your official records and show that you meet the basic foreign language proficiency requirement for the university. If you do not meet the language proficiency requirement, this exam will serve as a placement exam to determine if you need 101 or 102.

To learn more about the world language university requirement and how it applies to native language speakers, please visit the Admissions page.

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About the WebCAPE exam

  • This exam is adaptive. CAPE selects each test item as a result of the answer to the previous question. When you answer an item correctly, a more difficult question is presented; if an item is answered incorrectly, an easier question is given. In short, the test “adapts” to the your ability level and will accurately determine your competency level in about twenty minutes.

  • Try your best, without help, to answer the question even if you aren't sure you understand it. As you move through the test, it will offer you a variety of levels and types of questions. The exam tests both for your language level and for the technical aspects of language: grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Some will be easier than others, so stick with it. Just because one question is too hard doesn't mean the next one will be. Follow the exam all the way through until it provides you with a score and language level. The test typically takes 15-25 minutes and will cover approximately 25-35 questions based on your language level.

Tips from our language instructors about taking this test

  • Exam questions are generated randomly, and they range from beginning to advanced level. Beginners will see items far above their level of proficiency on the exam and shouldn't worry about them. Answer what you can, and skip the ones you don't know. DO NOT quit at the first difficult question.

  • Questions don't follow a logically sequenced order (easy to middle to high level). They are totally random, and a difficult question might appear before an easy one. This is why it's important for you not to quit mid-test. There may be other questions near the end that are easier that you could answer. If you end the test as soon as a hard question appears, the score will not be accurate.

  • The goal of the test is not to get a perfect score and answer all the questions correctly. It's highly unlikely anyone will ever get a perfect score. Simply do your best, without assistance. Taking this exam is about finding out which language course you will be most successful in as a starting point.

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Directions for WebCAPE


Just a reminder that this exam is adaptive, and the questions are generated randomly so that you may see difficult questions before you see an easy one. Do your best without assistance or a translation program. This exam will provide you with a starting language level in which you will further develop your proficiency. Using outside resources to take this exam will give you an inaccurate placement that will affect your ability to be successful.

Make sure that you have at least 30 minutes without distractions and that you don't use outside resources to take this exam.

  1. Select the organization: University of Washington Tacoma.
  2. Select your test language: Spanish.
  3. Fill in your name, address, email and main phone number.
  4. Provide the billing information (connected to the credit card you will use to pay for the exam).
  5. Provide the credit card information (payment is processed by Perpetual Technology Group).
  6. Take the test.

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Register and take the WebCAPE Exam now.

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