ACTFL Advanced-Level Exam

Language proficiency means the ability to communicate in a language. For this certificate program, advanced-level proficiency is determined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) guidelines. ACTFL rates language proficiency as novice, intermediate, advanced, and superior in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

If you have advanced-level proficiency in a second language, you do not necessarily have the same ability as a native speaker. However, you can use your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills sufficiently to satisfy the requirements of everyday situations and for routine school and work requirements. You can also generally understand and be understood by native speakers. See the ACTFL Level Descriptions for more information.

Passing the ACTFL exam with a rating of advanced-low or higher on all four sections is the final required step for this certificate. The reading and listening sections are computer graded, whereas the writing and speaking sections are graded by ACTFL staff. The test is offered through the Language Testing Program and is scheduled in Jones Hall computer classrooms.  FALL 2020: All testing will be remotely administered and proctored.

Registration: Costs and Schedules

The Language Testing program offers all four sections of the ACTFL exam on the same day. If you pass the Critical Reflection Essay, you will be instructed to register for the tests.  You will be charged $200 for the tests through your student account. This is the cost charged by ACTFL for the four tests. No other costs associated with offering these tests at the University of Minnesota are passed on to students.

Times and locations will be announced closer to the test date.

If you do not pass all four sections of the test, you may retake any sections you did not pass the next time the test is offered. You will only need to retake the sections of the exam you did not pass, and will only be charged for those sections. Here are the prices for the individual sections:

Reading = $30

Writing = $70

Listening = $30

Speaking = $70


Funding (effective Fall 2020): Students will have two options for registering for the ACTFL Exam:

[Option 1: Sponsored]
If you are a current University of Minnesota degree-seeking student, you are eligible for one free attempt at three of the four tests: listening, reading, and speaking. You will be charged for the writing test through your student account, and this cost is $70. In order to be eligible for the the sponsored option, you must agree to take the tests in the following order on different dates:

Step 1 - Take Reading and Listening (administered together): You must receive an Advanced-Low or higher on BOTH tests in order to proceed to the next test.
Step 2 - Take Speaking: You must receive an Advanced-Low or higher on this test in order to proceed to the final test.
Step 3 - Take Writing: You will be charged $70 for this test.

Eligibility can be spread out over multiple semesters, but the Language Center will pay for only one attempt on each of the three tests.

[Option 2: Non-Sponsored]
Non-degree students, students who are retaking exams, and students who prefer to take their tests in a single test session may register for all tests when they are available, and will be charged for each test through their student account. Some restrictions may apply. (Graduated students are not eligible at this time because we can't charge their student account for the tests.) The costs of the tests are:

Reading: $30
Listening $30
Speaking: $70
Writing: $70

No show and cancellation policy:

If you miss your scheduled ACTFL exam because of an official excuse, you can take the test at the next scheduled test time. An official excuse includes documented illness or accident and government service (e.g., jury duty or military service). If you miss your ACTFL exam you must contact the Testing Program within 24 hours of your scheduled test through their website; click on "Contact Us" and explain your situation. If you do not contact the Testing Program within 24 hours, a make-up test will not be possible. There are no refunds for the ACTFL exam.

Pre-Exam Registration Checklist

  • I have completed the previous five required steps
  • I have completed all or some of the additional recommended experiences
  • I have taken the 4 self-assessments, answered questions thoughtfully and carefully, and the results indicate that I may have achieved advanced-level proficiency.


If you have questions about your readiness for the exam, please contact Spanish Advising ( or the Language Testing Program.