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PhD Reading Exams


PhD students may fulfill the foreign language reading requirement, administered through the Stanford Language Center, in two ways. The process is designed for maximum flexibility for the student. Following are the current available options:

  1. Successfully complete a reading course in the relevant language and become certified by the instructor as having met the requirement. Check in Explore courses to see when the following courses are offered:

    German – GERLANG 250: Reading German
    French – FRENLANG 250: Reading French
    Spanish – SPANLANG 250: Reading Spanish
    Italian – ITALLANG 250: Reading Italian
  2. Take a reading proficiency test. Stanford uses the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Reading Proficiency Test (RPT).  Available languages are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  An Advanced rating is expected to fulfill the requirement.  This examination is offered in the Stanford Language Center (Main Quad, Building 30) during business hours at an arranged time.  Contact the languagecenter [at] (subject: LTI%20Reading%20Exam%20for%20PhD%20student) (Language Center) to arrange an appointment.

    The ACTFL RPT is a standardized test for the global assessment of reading ability in a language. RPTs measure how well a person spontaneously reads a language when presented with texts and tasks as described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Reading, without access to dictionaries or grammar references. This is an internet-based exam administered on a computer in the Language Center. 

    The exam takes one hour and consists of 15-20 short reading passages with three multiple choice questions per passage.   Shortly after completion of the standardized test, an official rating of reading performance from Language Testing International is reported to the Language Center.  This nationally certified rating in reading may be listed on the curriculum vitae. 

If a student’s performance is insufficient in one of the above options, they may exercise another option in subsequent quarters.