World Language Placement Tests

Upstate SC is one of the most international economies in the US

Gain the workplace rewards of bilingualism and multilingualism by earning credit for your prior experiences with world languages.

World Language Credit by Exam Instructions

USC Upstate Testing Center

 Guide to World Language U101-level Skills

Guide to World Language U102-level Skills

Knowledge of world cultures and world languages is an important global competency in our 21st-century global economy, and most employers list "global competence" among the top ten skills they seek in their new hires. Put your language knowlege to work for you. Professor Gaby Drake teaching Spanish course  with students and world map in background
How Can I Place into a Higher Level World Language Course?

Have you gained prior world language experience through school, work, or home? Complete the placement test in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish to determine if you can skip lower-level language courses and progress into an upper-level course. 

Request a Placement Test

Email to request instructions for completing the placement test. Or set up an appointment at the Testing Center in Media 218 to take your test. 

What are the benefits of placing out of introductory language courses? 

  • Textbook costs decrease in higher-level courses. 
  • Higher-level courses have fewer daily practice exercises as you focus your attention on more advanced language tasks.
  • You can earn a minor in French, German, or Spanish with just four 300-level world language courses. 
  • Once you successfully complete a higher-level world language course at USC Upstate, you can request credit by advanced standing for the prerequisite courses. For instance, you place into GERM U202 and successfully complete the course. Next, you contact the Languages, Literature, and Composition office to request credit by advanced standing. Then, you are awarded credit for GERM U101, GERM U102, and GERM U201--for free. 
Exempt Your World Language Requirement in General Education

Your General Education Requirements will ask you to complete either one or two courses in world languages, depending on your major. If you have prior world language experience above the introductory level, you may be exempted from the world language requirement. Students who place above the U101 or U102 level in a world language (depending on your major requirements) may substitute those courses with any other general education-eligible course. 

Request a World Language Placement Test

Email for instructions to access the World Language Placement Test in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish. Or set up an appointment at the Testing Center in Media 218 to take your test.  The average time to complete this online test is under 20 minutes. Most students finish in under 10 minutes. 

You'll see the result of your placement test immediately upon completion. The screen will display the number of the course you placed into. 

How does it work?

For instance, you take the placement test in Russian or Chinese and earn a placement into the U201 course for your language. Your placement test score will be added to your Student Profile in Self-Service Carolina, and your advisor can allow you to substitute any other general education course in the place where your language course would have gone. 

Students who transfer into USC Upstate with extra general education courses, such as extra courses in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or mathematics, may substitute those courses for the world language requirements, if you have earned exemption through your placement test scores. 

Earn Credit by Exam for a World Language Course

Students with prior experience may complete a challenge exam to earn credit for a world language course. Students whose experience or placement test score suggests that they would be successful in a particular world language course may request a challenge exam, which is the final cumulative exam for the course they wish to complete.

Students must earn a grade of B or higher on the challenge exam to earn credit for the course. Students may not have previously enrolled in the class they wish to challenge. The challenge exam costs $25/credit hour of the course (typically $75), so the placement test is recommended to ensure that you request the challenge exam most appropriate to your language proficiency.

Request a Challenge Exam

Email to request a challenge exam in French, German, or Spanish. 

How does it work? 

A student completes a placement test in Spanish and finds they have placed into SPAN U202+. The student has experience both speaking and reading/writing in Spanish and feels confident in their ability to carry on a basic conversation in Spanish. This student requests a challenge exam for SPAN U300 Topics in Conversation.

After scheduling a date for the exam with the assistant chair for world languages, the student completes the exam and earns a grade of B+. The student will see credit for SPAN U300 on their transcript within a few weeks. 

Note: Course credits earned through a challenge exam appear on the transcript with a grade of EX. Such courses do not contribute to your GPA. Find out more about Challenge Exams in World Languages PDF icon image

Students who successfully complete a challenge exam and earn Credit by Exam may also request Credit by Advanced Standing for any of the world language courses that are a prerequisite for the course completed by exam. For example, the student who completed SPAN U300 by exam may also request credit for SPAN U101, U102, U201, and/or U202. 

Earn Credit by Exam for Languages Not Taught at USC Upstate

Do you have prior world language experience in a language that is not taught at USC Upstate? Students with world language experience in any of over 120 languages may earn credit by exam through Language Testing International. external link icon 

Complete an ACTFL Test for Credit

  • Students may select their language from the Language Testing International list. 
  • Select the option for individuals looking to certify their Speaking, Writing, Listening, or Reading Skills. 
  • Select the ACTFL OPI, ACTFL WPT, or ACTFL OPI-c, depending on the options available to you for your language. Test prices range from $108-$165, depending on available options.  
  • Once you complete your exam, you will receive a Credly Badge and Certificate external link icon identifying your level of language proficiency. Please do link this badge to your LinkedIn and Handshake accounts and include your proficiency level on your resume. 
  • Finally, use the Credly Transcript feature external link icon to send your transcript to USC Upstate Admissions at It's a good idea to let your advisor know that the transcript is on its way, so they can keep an eye out for the credits to come in. 

How does it work? 

A student has years of experience speaking Arabic, Hmong, or Hindi. The student signs up for the OPI-C through Language Testing International and earns Advanced Mid Speaking Proficiency. The student earns a digital badge and logs in to Credly to send a free transcript to USC Upstate. The student is awarded 9 credits in their world language for FORL U101, FORL U102, and FORL U201.

Several previous students have earned certificates of Advanced High proficiency and even Superior proficiency. 

Note: Credits awarded based on the ACTFL exam do not contribute to the GPA and will appear on the transcript with a grade of CR. 

What If My Language is American Sign Language (ASL)? 

American Sign Language (ASL) is not included in the ACTFL tests offered through Language Testing International. However, students with significant experience in ASL may complete the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) external link icon. ASLPI fees for online examinees is $185 ($165 + $20 online proctor fee). Please allow six weeks to process your test results.

When signing up for the ASLPI, please add to the Result Report Distribution list, so your results can be reported to the USC Upstate Admissions office and added to your transcript. It is a great idea to notify your advisor that the scores will be coming, so they can keep an eye out for those credits to be awarded.

Earn Credit by Advanced Standing for Lower-Level World Language Courses

Have you completed an upper-level world language course or successfully passed a challenge exam in a world language course? You may be eligible to earn additional credits for the lower-level prerequisite courses you skipped. 

Request Credit by Advanced Standing after Completing an Upper-level World Language Course

Email after successfully completing an upper-level world language course to request credit for lower-level prerequisites. 

How does it work? 

A student places into FREN U202 and successfully completes that course. After the grades are reported for FREN U202, the student reaches out to the department of Languages, Literature, and Composition to request Credit by Advanced Standing. The student is awarded credit for FREN U101, FREN U102, and FREN U201 at no additional cost.  

Why Does Credit for Prior Experience Matter?

Your prior world language experience in school, work, home, or the community is valuable. No matter what languages you know or where you learned them, your world language proficiency can be evaluated and credit awarded for your knowledge and skills. 

Recognizing prior learning in languages is an important strategy for promoting equity and access in higher education. We hope you will share your world language experience with us and earn credit for the languages you know.