Credit Exam for World Languages

The Credit Exam assesses language proficiency. A passing score provides two credits in the language tested (for levels one and two). These credits partially fulfill the World Languages requirement for the Advanced Studies Diploma.

The exam is designed to assess language proficiency and enable students to earn two pass-or-fail credits (levels one and two) in the language. Credits are added to the student transcript and are applicable toward fulfilling the world languages requirement for the Advanced Studies Diploma.


The exam is for students in grades 7 through 12 whose native language is one of these 30 languages:

  • American Sign Language
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Farsi
  • French
  • German
  • Greek*
  • Hebrew*
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Nepali
  • Pashto
  • Portuguese*
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Tigrinya
  • Turkish*
  • Twi
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

*Greek, Hebrew, Portuguese and Turkish languages will be tested using the Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) by Language Testing International. The WPT is a timed test and has a format distinct from the FCPS World Languages Credit Exam (see When you take the exam, below). Read more about the Writing Proficiency Test or ask your school counselor.

Proficiency Level

Students must be able to read and comprehend exam instructions and writing prompts in the exam language. They must be able to write two well-developed essays in the exam language, each consisting of at least three paragraphs, using complete sentences in cohesive paragraphs on a variety of topics and personal experiences.

Requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma

In order to earn the Advanced Studies Diploma, students must earn three credits in one world language or two credits in each of two different world languages. The credit exam addresses the second option because students who pass earn two world language credits equivalent to Levels 1 and 2 of the exam language.

Ways to Earn Additional World Language Credits

High school students enrolled in ESOL 5720 courses may receive up to two world languages credits toward high school graduation requirements. Middle school students enrolled in ESOL 5720-5730 courses may receive up to two world languages credits toward high school graduation requirements (one for 5720 and one for 5730).

If a student earns two credits from the credit exam and the third level is offered at the school, successful completion of Level 3 would complete the required courses.

Scoring and Results

  • An assessor, who is proficient in the exam language, scores the exam.  The scoring rubric is available on the credit exam website.
  • A letter will be sent to each student at home indicating the exam results approximately two months after taking the exam. A certificate will also be sent to passing students.  A list of students who pass/fail will be sent to the Director of Student Services at the middle and high schools.
  • A student may participate in the exam twice between grades 7 through 12.  In other words, students who are not successful the first time may try once more.


Students must meet with their school counselors to register.

Registration opens on Monday, September 9, 2019, at 8 a.m. and closes on Thursday, October 10, 2019, at 4 p.m.

Late registrations will not be accepted.

Credit exam dates, times, and testing sites:

November 6, 2019 - Centreville High School Cafeteria - 4-7:45 p.m.

November 7, 2019 - Robinson Secondary School Cafeteria - 4-7:45 p.m.

November 8, 2019 - Marshall High School Cafeteria - 4-7:45 p.m.

I need to bring to the exam...

  • a photo ID (driver's license, passport, picture school ID, etc.)
  • a pen or pencil
  • Credit Exam Registration Confirmation provided by the school counselor (printed or electronic)

For the exam...

  • The exam begins at 4 p.m. Check-in begins at 3:30 p.m.
  • Students MUST bring a photo ID to the exam site. Examples of a photo ID are:
    • driver’s license
    • school photo ID
    • passport
    • yearbook picture identified with the name of the student
    • A photograph labeled with the name of the student and signed by the school counselor or ESOL teacher will also be accepted if the counselor or ESOL teacher notify Rudy Smith before the exam date.
  • The FCPS exam is not timed. The WPT is timed. Generally, students finish by 6 p.m. Parents must wait in the designated waiting area.
  • Students may not bring any books, dictionaries, or other materials into the exam room.
  • Students may bring a phone that is powered off into the exam room as long as the phone is out of sight during the test.
  • Students may bring backpacks and bags into the exam room. They must be left at the entrance to the exam room and retrieved by the student when exiting the exam.

Suggestions for Students: How to Improve Performance on the Credit Exam for World Languages

Know what the assessors are looking for

The assessors are looking for a level of writing that can consistently and accurately describe and narrate in the past, present, and future using complete sentences to form coherent paragraphs. The assessors evaluate the writing in six domains: task completion, comprehensibility, level of discourse (degree of sophistication), vocabulary, language control (grammar) and mechanics (spelling and punctuation). A sample scoring rubric is available below. It is expected that students who pass the exam will demonstrate proficiency to enroll in a Level 3 course or higher if offered in FCPS.

To prepare for the exam

If you speak the exam language but have not had many opportunities to write it, you may have difficulty with the written exam. You may not know how to write and spell words in your language, even if you know how to say them. To improve this, practice writing paragraphs or stories in your language (a list of practice themes can be found below). Ask someone who knows how to write your language to go over what you have written and to provide corrections and suggestions. Remember that spelling does count!

As you practice writing in your language, also practice using the rules of good essays. Organize what you write into complete sentences and then group sentences on the same topic into paragraphs. If it is appropriate for your language, capitalize the first word of each sentence, and use correct punctuation at the end of each sentence. Sentences that are very long and run into one another without a break are difficult to read and understand. Remember that written essays are more organized and formal than just writing what you would say in a conversation with a friend.

Also, reading magazines, stories and newspapers written in your language will do a great deal to help you learn to punctuate and to spell words that you already know -- reading will also increase your vocabulary.

When you take the exam

The FCPS Credit Exam requires students to write essays on two topics related to personal experiences. Each essay must consist of at least three well-developed, cohesive paragraphs. The essays need to be long enough for the assessor to determine the level of writing proficiency and must address the essay prompt.

The WPT identifies the student's highest level of writing proficiency. There are four writing prompts; each more difficult than the previous. Latter prompts of the WPT may be challenging for the student. Students should attempt to answer all four prompts to get a higher score. Students are able to earn credit without perfectly addressing all the test prompts.

Both test formats will result in higher scores if the student:

  • Elaborate on ideas by extending sentences, adding details and using a variety of expressions.
  • Organize sentences into cohesive paragraphs to narrate experiences and provide substantive and vivid descriptions.
  • Before ending the exam, review the writing to check punctuation, spelling, word use and clarity.
  • World Languages Themes and Topics

    The purpose of this document is to provide a list of the themes and topics that might be encountered by a student taking levels 1-2, or in sitting for the FCPS World Languages Credit Exam assessment.