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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Graduate Reading Exam

Arabic | Chinese | French | German | Italian | Japanese | Latin | Portuguese | Russian Spanish

The Graduate Reading Proficiency Exam is for graduate students who are majoring in other disciplines. FREN, GERM, LATN, and SPAN 615 are designed to prepare students to take the examination(s) that satisfies the basic FL graduate reading requirement. The courses are available on a pass / fail basis only.

Foreign Language and/or Research Methods 

 Language and research methods requirements for the Master’s degree vary from program to program and must be approved by the academic program’s graduate director and the dean of The Graduate School. Programs which directly involve language study may have additional language requirements. Satisfying the requirement may entail one or more of the following: successful completion of an intensive reading course in a language approved by The Graduate School (e.g., SPAN 615), successful completion of a course at the intermediate level of language proficiency within six years previous of the award of the degree, or a passing grade on a language reading proficiency examination administered by the USC Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (DLLC).Students should contact DLLC for language course and testing information. Programs which directly involve language study may have additional language requirements.

Students have three opportunities to pass the language course or satisfy the reading proficiency examination. The Graduate School must be notified by the academic program of a student’s successful completion of the language requirement.

The student should make arrangements to complete the foreign language and/or research methods requirements at the earliest opportunity. Certification of foreign language and/or research methods competency for master’s students remains valid for six years, after which it must be revalidated.

Arabic Proficiency Exam
please contact Prof. Nancy Linthicum

Chinese Reading Exam

Please contact
Prof. Gregory Patterson

French Graduate Reading Exam:

The graduate reading exam in French requires the translation from French into English of a 500 word passage. Candidates will have two hours and may use a dictionary and one additional grammar aid, such as a verb dictionary. Additional materials are not allowed.

The Graduate French Reading Exam for Fall, 2021 will be given on Thursday, December 2,  from 4:30-6:00 p.m. online.  Please contact Prof. Jeanne Garane at between November 29 and December 1 to sign up for the exam. In the subject heading, please write, “Graduate French Reading Exam Fall 2021. Please include the name and e-mail address of your departmental graduate director as well as that of your departmental graduate coordinator. Please also include your VIP number.

Students may prepare for the exam by consulting a good grammar review book and by doing practice translations. Robert Stack’s Reading French in the Arts and Sciences is an excellent preparation text, and is available at Thomas Cooper Library.

Additional preparation is offered in French 615, but students do not need to be enrolled in French 615 in order to take the exam. FREN 615 is generally offered during the summer. However, a minimum number of students must sign up for the course to make.

German Graduate Reading exam

The graduate reading exam in German requires the translation of an excerpt from an academic text into English. Candidates have two hours to complete the exam and may use a dictionary. Candidates without adequate previous knowledge of GERM will need to take German 615.

GERM 615 assumes no previous knowledge of the language. It is generally offered in the Summer Session.

  • The reading exam is offered near the end of each semester and at the end of GERM 615. Students do not need to be registered for the course to take the exam.
  • Please direct all inquiries to Patrick Walsh at

Italian Reading Exam
Contact Prof. Pia Bertucci

 Japanese Reading Exam

 The graduate reading exam in Japanese requires the translation from Japanese into English of two passages. One passage is lower intermediate level with about 400 Japanese characters (about 200 English word translation) and the other passage is upper intermediate level with about 400 Japanese characters (about 200 English word translation).  The lower intermediate level passage does not have “furigana  (kanji reading aid)” but the upper intermediate level passage includes “furigana.”

Candidates will have two hours to complete the exam. Candidates may use one Japanese-English dictionary and one additional grammar aid such as a grammar dictionary. No other additional materials are allowed.

Students are suggested to prepare for the exam by doing practice translations using good intermediate level reading comprehension practice books.

 The graduate reading exam in Japanese is given during finals week in the fall and in the spring upon requests. Graduate school students who wish to take the graduate reading exam in Japanese, please contact Shunko Muroya, Japanese Program instructor, at to sign up for the exam at least two weeks in advance. Please write "Graduate reading exam in Japanese” in the subject area.

 Latin Reading Exam

The next opportunity to take the Latin Reading Exam will be at the end of Summer II during the final exam scheduled for Latin 615. Students who wish to take the exam must take it during one of these times. You should bring a student ID and writing materials. You may consult a Latin dictionary during the test. No electronic devices of any kind are permitted.
Please note that most students do not have enough experience with Latin to pass the Graduate Reading Exam without proper preparation. Students must be prepared to translate into English unedited passages from Classical Latin authors. Students are strongly urged to take the intensive courses offered by the Classics program that will prepare students for the exam. Latin 614-615 will be offered Summer I and Summer II, respectively, 2012. Students who wish to pass the Graduate Reading Exam in Latin should take these two courses. 

Students interested in taking the exam during January of the Spring semester should contact Dr. Gardner for further details.

Portuguese Reading Exam
please contact Prof. Andrew Rajca

Russian Reading Exam
contact Prof. Judith Kalb

 Spanish Reading Examination Information

Students are encouraged to take SPAN 615 when offered. However, in the absence of the course, students have the opportunity to take an examination offered twice a year, typically in December and April the week after classes have had their last meeting. Students may use a Spanish/English dictionary for the examination. The examination is a 500-word passage in the area of Humanities. Students have 90 minutes in which to render the passage into English; the professor will e-mail the results to the students, and provide notification to the student’s home program and to the Graduate School, as appropriate. Students who receive no notification by email should contact the professor within three days of the exam.

The Spring 2021 Spanish reading exam will take place on Blackboard on Wednesday April 28 from 4 to 5:30 pm. Please contact Prof. Rebecca Janzen at with your name, email address, graduate program and name and email of graduate advisor/director to enroll.

The only reference material you will be allowed to bring to the exam is a Spanish/English dictionary.

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