Arabic Language Placement and Exemption Exam

UCI students who speak and read Arabic can take a placement exam or an exemption exam to satisfy Category VI and VIII General Education requirements.

Arabic Placement Testing


1. How can I enroll in an Arabic course? 

If you are interested in enrolling in Arabic 1A:

No placement test is required. You may enroll directly through WebReg if space permits. Please visit the Schedule of Classes to view course offerings and seat availability.

If you are interested in enrolling in a level above 1A:

You must take an Arabic placement test to receive course placement and enrollment authorization. See below for more information about the test.

Students should be aware that being placed in a level above any language course they are currently or were previously enrolled in will lead to losing credit for the lower-level course. Therefore, those students considering taking an exemption or placement exam are advised to take the exam prior to enrolling in any language course.


2. What is the purpose of the Arabic Placement Test?

The Arabic Placement Test is designed to assess your proficiency in Arabic. It assesses your readiness for Arabic courses at UCI. You will be placed into one of the following courses based on two tracks of Arabic courses offered at UCI: 

Track One: Classical Arabic – 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2C. If you are interested in developing your grammar, writing, and reading skills in formal standardized Arabic, contact ATC to take the written Arabic Placement Test. This test contains only Modern Standard Arabic (also known as fusha).


Track Two: Spoken/Colloquial Arabic – 2A, 2B, or 2C. If you are an Arabic heritage speaker or you have some exposure to /education in Arabic and you are interested in improving your communication skills in Arabic, please contact Dr. Omaima Zayed to schedule an oral Arabic Placement Test. This test contains MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) as well as colloquial or vernacular Arabic (also known as ammiyyaa). 

For more information about the Arabic program at UCI, please visit the Program in Global Languages and Communication website here.


3. Who needs to take courses in Arabic?

Language learning is an integral part of university education, and learning another language is a worthwhile endeavor for any student, whether that language is one’s heritage language or a completely new language. The acquisition of a second or even third language increases one’s global literacy and helps to foster a greater appreciation of diversity. In our rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world, students with skills in more than one language will be able to engage with the world in more meaningful and productive ways.

Successful completion of lower-division coursework (or the equivalent) in Arabic through the 2C level may be used to satisfy the foreign language requirement in the School of Humanities. Completion of Arabic coursework through the 1C level may also be used to satisfy UCI’s Language Other Than English (Category VI) General Education requirement. Students majoring in International Studies must satisfy Language Other Than English requirements through the 2C level. Please consult your academic advisor if you have questions about these requirements.


4. What should I study before the examination?

Track One: If you are interested in improving your formal written Arabic and grammar, use the following resources as the test contains only formal Arabic (also known as Modern Standard Arabic or fusha). Exam questions may test listening comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and translation.

Review vocabulary related to your nuclear and extended family, university life, the time, the weather, travel, the annual calendars in use in the Middle East, holidays, identity, settling in a foreign country, relationships, opinion, social and political issues, as well as other topics.

In respect to grammar, review the following: noun-adjective agreement; nominal and verbal sentences (al-jumla al-ismiyya wa al-jumla al-filiyya); connected and disconnected pronouns and their uses; conditional sentences; adjectival clauses (jumla as-sifa); past, present (al-mudari’ al-marfu wa al-mansub wa al-majzum), and future verb conjugations; subject-verb agreement; the dual; negating verbs; case endings (al-I’raab); in addition to other points of grammar.

Track Two: If you are interested in improving your communication skills in Arabic, you do not need to use any resources as the test is in the form of an oral interview/conversation. 


5. How can I prepare for the examination?

Reviewing newspaper or magazine articles, listening to the news or media, and watching movies (particularly in colloquial Egyptian Arabic) can help prepare you for the test.

In addition, the following texts are an excellent review of the fundamentals of Arabic:

Brustad, K., Al-Batal, M., Al-Tonsi, A. (2011). Al-Kitab fii Ta’llum al-Arabiyya. Part One. Third Edition. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Brustad, K., Al-Batal, M., Al-Tonsi, A. (2005). Al-Kitab fii Ta’llum al-Arabiyya. Part Two. Second Edition. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 

Louis, S. (2007). Kallimni ‘Arabi: An Intermediate Course in Spoken Egyptian Arabic 2. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. 

Sample Items:

Track One: Arabic Placement Test Sample Questions

Track Two: Arabic Placement Test Sample Questions


6. How long is the test?

Track One: This Arabic placement test is 120 minutes long, consisting of multiple-choice questions, including a number of questions with several parts. There are writing and translation sections, in addition to questions concerning grammar.

Track Two: This Arabic placement test is 15-20 minutes long, consisting of 8-10 interview questions (including a few questions with multiple parts), followed by a 5-minute presentation during which you will talk at length about a specified topic. A sample topic will be provided when you sign up for the test. 


7. How long are the results valid?

The results are valid for your entire academic career at UCI. You may take the test only one time. Please be advised that if you take the test more often than allowed, your new results will not be reported.

No University credit is given. There is no fee to take the test if you are a UCI student. 


8. Is test registration required?

Yes. Test registration is always required. You may schedule an appointment online through Campus Groups


9. Do I need an ID to take a placement test?

Yes. You will need two forms of valid photo ID. Examples of valid photo ID are: a UCI, other university, or or high school ID; a driver’s license with a photo; a state-issued identification card with a photo; a valid passport; or any government-issued identification with a photo.

If you need further information on language testing, please e-mail the ATC at, call our office at (949) 824-6207, or contact your academic counseling office.



Arabic Exemption Testing


The Arabic Exemption Test is offered to students as an alternative means for satisfying the Language Other Than English (Category VI) and the International/Global Issues (Category VIII) General Education requirements. You should take this test if you have a strong background in Arabic and are NOT interested in taking additional coursework. The Exemption Test is the same test as the Placement test. You may schedule an appointment online through Campus Groups.

If, at a later time, you choose to take an Arabic course after you completed your Arabic exemption test, you must begin at Arabic 1A, or you may take an oral interview offered quarterly to be potentially placed into the 2-series language track.

This test may be taken only once. No University credit is given. There is no fee to take the test if you are a UCI student.