Language Reading Knowledge Exam

Upcoming dates (1)

For registration assistance: 608-262-2451
Register by mail: printable registration form


These translation exams test reading knowledge of French, German, Italian or Spanish and meet the requirements of UW–Madison graduate programs. Register at least one week prior to your chosen exam date, select your language and provide the name and email address of the graduate student coordinator for your department. No refunds after registration.


This is an online exam administered through Canvas. You are given 1 hour to read and translate a prose passage that is approximately 1 to 1 ½ pages. The text selected will be compatible with your graduate degree program. You should translate as much as you can into natural-sounding English. It is not necessary to translate the entire text, as accuracy is more important than quantity. You are permitted to use a dual-language print dictionary which you must provide and/or the approved online dictionary (WordReference). If you are a non-native speaker of English, you may also use one additional print dictionary to aid in writing English Additional materials are not permitted. By proceeding with the exam in the Canvas platform you agree to UW–Madison’s Academic Integrity Policy. You will also certify that:

  • the translation(s) I submit are my work alone and that I have not received outside assistance from another individual. 
  • I will not use online translators such as Google Translate to complete the work.
  • I will not copy the exam in whole or part by any means.
  • I will not discuss this exam with anyone except my instructor.

I will only use the approved online dictionary and/or print dictionaries to assist in completing the translation.

Evaluation of reading ability

Your reading ability is measured by the amount of text which you translate accurately and coherently. Your translation will be rated according to these standards:

French, German, Italian and Spanish:

  • Advanced High Pass: mastery of tense, idiom, vocabulary
  • Adequate Pass: sufficient use of language as research tool
  • Inadequate/Fail: unable to accurately translate basic meanings of the text

For the exact requirements you need to fulfill, please contact your academic department. Each UW–Madison graduate program determines its own standards for reading knowledge requirements. If (and only if) you pass your department's requirements, we will automatically notify your department of your exam result. If you do not achieve the rating required by your department, only you will be notified with your results. You can retake the exam.

Preparing for the exam

Sample exams:

We recommend that you practice the skill of writing timed translations in advance. Feel free to use the above sample exams, as well as working through self-timed translations of additional scholarly articles in the target language from your own field of research. Memorial Library and the internet are good sources for such texts.

Continuing Studies offers the following classes designed to prepare you for the test:

Contact individual language departments for information on individual tutoring

Retaking the exam

You may retake the exam up to 2 times. Follow the normal online registration process for a future date. Each time you take the exam, you will be presented with a new text to translate. You should plan to take a course or get tutoring to make sure you are adequately prepared for the next test.


Upcoming dates (1)

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Program Questions?

Contact Christopher Moore at christopher.moore@wisc.edu or 608-262-7389

Registration Questions?

Email registrations@pyle.wisc.edu or call 608-262-2451.

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