GPT pretest will give more students an opportunity to take exam early

by Mary Stegmeir

Students who want to take the Graduation Proficiency Test before completing four semesters of language classes might soon have an easier time doing so.

The University’s Committee on Second Language Education plans to introduce a screening test next fall that will measure a student’s language proficiency before he or she registers to take the GPT.

Committee chairwoman Charlotte Melin said the pretest would allow more qualified students to take the GPT ahead of time.

“Right now, students need to have a very high grade point average in their language courses and have a recommendation from an instructor to take the GPT (early),” Melin said.

Under those restrictions, approximately 100 students in third-semester language classes took the GPT last year.

The screening test will allow students who do not meet the current criteria for early access to the GPT to prove they are ready for the exam. Students who score well on the screening test can take the GPT before completing their remaining required language classes.

All students will be eligible to take the exam. The University will charge a fee to cover testing expenses.

“It will help students by making them more aware of the fact that they can move through the language requirement faster than they expected,” Melin said.

The committee is reviewing an exam members hope to use to measure GPT readiness. Melin said the group is also developing a strategy for administering the test.

Scott LeBlanc, the committee’s student representative, said the screening test would give all students an equal opportunity to take the GPT early.

“I personally think it’s the fairest compromise to deal with early access issues,” he said.

LeBlanc added that the student testing fee would allow the committee to provide an important service without burdening the University financially.

“This way, the University doesn’t get stuck with the bill, but students have the chance to see if they are ready for the (GPT),” LeBlanc said.

Diane Holte, American Sign Language coordinator and instructor, said the screening test would be beneficial for students who learned signing in high school or at home.

But she said most sign language students need four semesters of classroom instruction to prepare for the GPT.

“The GPT focuses on all the information taught in all the courses,” she said. “If you miss the last level, you miss information to prepare for the exam.”

Global studies senior Brian Dean said the test would be useful for bright students interested in taking advanced language courses.

“Anything that can help you skip unneeded classes should be welcomed,” Dean said.

Dean also said fourth-semester language coursework is a good review, even for high-achieving language students planning to continue studying a foreign language.

“It’s not going to kill anyone to sit in a class,” he said. “It’s good remedial practice.”

Mary Stegmeir welcomes comments at [email protected]