Spanish Language Placement and Exemption Exam

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


The Spanish Exemption Test is offered to students as an alternative means for satisfying the Language Other Than English General Education requirement (Category VI) and a portion of the International/Global Issues (Category VIII) requirements. You should take this test if you have a strong background in Spanish and you are not interested in taking additional course work. 

The highest proficiency level attainable at UCI by taking the Spanish Exemption exam is 2A.

If you are an International Studies major, this exemption exam cannot satisfy the 2B level foreign language requirement.

Note that this test is not a placement test For information regarding the placement test please continue reading below.

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


This exam consists of two parts.
Part I is a three-hour written examination divided as follows:

    1. Vocabulary/grammar (multiple-choice) – 90 minutes
    2. Listening (multiple/choice) – 20 minutes
    3. Writing (short answer and 3/4 page essay in Spanish) – one-hour

Part II is a 15-minute oral exam with a faculty member of the Spanish Department for those who pass Part I.
This exam was developed by the Spanish Department to cover topics normally learned in the Spanish 1C/2A courses at UCI. Topics on the test may include:

  • Para/por, saber/conocer, ser/estar
  • Verb tenses and mood
  • Vocabulary
  • Commands-formal and informal
  • Comparisons
  • Pronouns
  • Reading and listening comprehension


The Spanish Exemption Exam is designed for students who have strong preparation in Spanish (two, three, or four years in secondary school or the equivalent). Since the test closely matches the curriculum, the best preparation is to review the topics found in the first-year of Spanish textbook.


Click HERE for the exam sample items.


The Spanish Test will be administered during the academic year only. Registration, required to take the test, will be open during the second week of each quarter. To register, report in person with two photo ID’s, including your UCI photo ID card to the Academic Testing Center, 3040 Anteater Instruction and Research Building. At the time you register, you will be given information on the date, time, and location of the test.

Notification of Results

Results will not be available by telephone; rather, the student will be notified via e-mail to come by the Academic Testing Center when results are in. A paper copy of test results will be available during Finals Week in the Academic Testing Center. Presentation of a UCI photo ID is a requirement. Notification will be sent to each student’s academic unit. However, the results will not appear on the student’s transcript.    



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




Spanish Course Enrollment

Students with any previous experience in Spanish must take a placement test to determine which course would be appropriate for them. (Exceptions to taking the tests are described below.)

Two types of Spanish placement tests are availabe for the academic yearPlease note, each exam can only be taken once.The first test (Test A), designed for students learning Spanish as a second language or who are heritage speakers with limited communication experience. The second test (Test B) is designed for heritage speakers who have active communication ability in Spanish. Both exams are currently available online.

You should take Test A for Spanish placement if:

• You really began learning Spanish in middle school or high school;

• You mostly use Spanish in your Spanish classes at school;

• You have parents or caregivers who speak Spanish but you do not use Spanish with them;

• You can understand Spanish but cannot produce Spanish in speaking or writing.

To register for Test A please use the online registration form at:

This 90 minute exam is only available on the dates listed on the current test dates. Exam descriptions.

You should take Test B for Spanish placement if:

• You grew up speaking Spanish at home and in your community since childhood;

• You use Spanish in your Spanish classes at school and/or with family members or individuals who cannot speak English;

• You have parents or caregivers who speak Spanish and you converse with them in Spanish;

• You understand Spanish very well and you can have a conversation, to some extent, entirely in Spanish. You can also read and write in Spanish to a certain extent. 

Exceptions to taking a Spanish placement test:

Students without previous formal or informal background in Spanish must take a copy of their high school or other school transcripts to their academic advisor to activate their eligibility to enroll in Spanish 1A.

Students who graduated from a high school in a Spanish-speaking country, or students who graduated from a Spanish Academy, must take a copy of their transcript to their academic counselor in order to receive authorization to enroll in the appropriate course.

*Unless you are not planning to continue coure study, you may not be required to take a language exam. Please read the Category VI GE Requirement Policy.*

Refreshing your language knowledge and skills

The Academic Testing Center has a small reference library to help you with your test preparation. Click here to learn about the check-out and return policies and procedures.

If it has been a while since you have taken Spanish course work, you may wish to review your high school or college material before the quarter begins. You also may consult the following textbooks used in first-year language classes:

1. Puntos de Partida: An Invitation to Spanish (Knorre et al.), 8th Edition, for the SPAN 1 Series

2. �Avance!. Bretz et al., 2nd edition, for the SPAN 2 Series