World Languages Credit Exam

World Languages Credit Exam

What is the World Languages Credit Exam?

The exam assesses reading and writing language proficiency in languages other than English. Students who take the exam may earn up to three World Languages credits for levels one, two, and three for the language of the exam. The credits may fulfill the World Languages requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma. The FCPS World Languages Credit Exam is also an approved assessment for awarding the Virginia Department of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy. The exam is offered one time per school year. A student may participate in the exam two times per language, once per year, between grades 7 through 12. In other words, students have two chances per language to earn credits by taking the exam.


The exam is available for students in grades 7 through 12 who have proficiency in one of these 30 languages:

  • American Sign Language (ASL)*
  • 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

*For the ASL exam, students will watch signed video prompts and record a video response signing with ASL.  
**For the Mandarin Chinese exam, students will be given the writing prompts in both Traditional and Simplified Mandarin Chinese. They may write using either Traditional or Simplified (Mandarin) Chinese.

Credit Exam Pilot 2023

Optional Opportunity for ASL, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Telugu, and Vietnamese.

FCPS will be piloting a digital language proficiency assessment during SY2023-24. The assessment will be a digital format through an external vendor that assesses linguistic proficiency.

Students who participate in the pilot will take both

  • the FCPS World Languages Credit Exam
  • the pilot assessment

Credit will only be awarded from the results of the FCPS World Languages Credit Exam.

How To Participate

  1. See your student counselor.
  2. Register for the pilot and for the exam.

Students and parents will receive more information after registration closes, on October 5, 2023. Information will be communicated through contact information on record in SIS.

Note: There is a limited number of seats available for the pilot. Students will be registered and tested in a smaller group setting. If you would like to volunteer to participate in the pilot, please register as early as possible.

Proficiency Level

Students must be able to:

  • Read and comprehend exam instructions and writing prompts in the exam language.
  • Respond to the writing prompts in the language of the exam.

The exam is paper-pencil and students will respond in their own handwriting in the language of the exam. Students earn credit based on the level of proficiency demonstrated by their writing.

Scoring and Results

  • An assessor, who is proficient in the exam language, scores the exam. View the rubric.
  • The World Languages office will mail exam results to the student home approximately two months after taking the exam. Results are also sent to the Director of Student Services at the middle and high schools where the student attends.

Requirements for the Advanced Studies Diploma

The Advanced Studies Diploma requires students to earn three credits in one World Language. Students may also fulfill this requirement by earning two credits in each of two different world languages. Students may earn up to three credits from the credit exam. Students who earn three credits on the credit exam will fulfill this requirement for the Advanced Studies Diploma.

Additional Ways to Earn World Language Credits

High school students may earn up to four World Languages credits from the ESOL 5720 and 5730 courses. These credits may apply toward graduation requirements and toward the Advanced Studies Diploma.

Middle school students may earn up to two World Languages credits from ESOL 5710, 5720 and 5730 courses. These credits may apply toward graduation requirements and toward the Advanced Studies Diploma.

Where the option is available, students who earn one credit on the exam may enroll in level two. Students who earn two credits on the exam may enroll in level three. The option to enroll in the next level depends on whether the language is available at the base school, academy or online. Students who earn three credits from the World Languages Credit Exam may continue their study of the language in the upper levels.


All students must register for the exam through their school counselor. Registration opens Tuesday, September 5, 2023, at 8 a.m. and closes on Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 4 p.m. Late registrations will not be accepted.

Credit Exam Dates, Times, & Testing Sites

Pilot Participants

Pilot participants must arrive at 4:30, p.m. and will have a separate check-in line and testing room. Follow the signs to the pilot assessment upon arrival.


All exams are 4:30 - 8:30 p.m. Check-in and registration will be open from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The testing session will close at 8:30 p.m. Students typically complete the test within 2 hours. Due to the high volume of participants, the check-in line can be long. It is encouraged to plan accordingly.

Dates and Locations

  • Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - Edison High School Cafeteria
  • Thursday, November 9, 2023 - Centreville High School Cafeteria
  • Monday, November 13, 2023 - Fairfax High School Cafeteria

Testing Information

Check-in begins at 4:30 p.m. Students must bring the printed exam confirmation and a valid photo ID. Examples of valid photo ID include:

  • driver’s license
  • school photo ID
  • passport
  • yearbook picture identified with the name of the student
  • photograph labeled with the name of the student and signed by the school counselor or ESOL teacher
  • the photo ID on the student SIS account. Students may use a phone to show their ID.

Students may bring their own pencils if they wish. Cell phones are permitted but must be powered off while in the testing location. 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 students when exiting the exam.

Students may not bring any books, dictionaries, notes, other resources, or other materials into the exam room. This includes their own paper. Both lined paper and scratch paper will be provided.

Parents may drop their student off and return for pick-up or wait in the designated waiting area. Parents may not enter the exam room.

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

Know what the assessors are looking for

Students should be able to consistently and accurately describe and narrate personal experiences in multiple-paragraph essays. Students should be able to use complete sentences and form coherent paragraphs. There are six grading domains. A sample scoring rubric is available for download below. The exam determines whether a student would be ready to take the next level of the course; if offered in FCPS.

To prepare for the exam

The exam will be difficult for students with little or no experience writing in the language. Students should take time to practice writing paragraphs and stories before the exam. Students may download a list of practice topics from the link below. If possible, students should ask for feedback on their practice writing. A family member or a friend may be able to provide feedback. Students should remember that spelling and diacritical marks affect the exam score.

Good practice includes

  • Organize what you write into complete sentences.
  • Group sentences on the same topic into paragraphs.
  • Use capital letters as appropriate to the language.
  • Use correct punctuation.
  • Remember that written essays are more organized and formal than conversation.
  • Reading is a very useful practice. Magazines, stories and newspapers teach correct punctuation and spelling. Reading will also increase the breadth of vocabulary.

When you take the exam

The FCPS Credit Exam requires students to write two separate essays on two separate 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.

To earn a higher score, remember to elaborate on ideas and extend sentences. Also, remember to add details and use a variety of expressions. Remember to organize sentences into cohesive paragraphs and provide vivid descriptions. Remember 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.
  • World Languages Credit Exam Rubric and Passing Ranges: The purpose of this document is to provide the reader with a description of the quality of writing that must be demonstrated to earn credit on the World Languages Credit Exam.
FCPS intends to transition to an external assessment that evaluates language proficiency for the 2024-25 school year. More information will be available by Fall 2024.