Office for Prior Learning Assessment

PLA Language Examinations

pla-blairLanguage Examinations

The Office for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at USM offers two ways to earn up to 6 general elective (GEL) credits for the language(s) you know through either the NYU or BYU Language exams in sixty-six languages. These exams evaluate your knowledge of the language of your choice, and assign points which translate into undergraduate credit at USM. They do not require knowledge of technical terms or specialized vocabulary, and test in three basic language skills - listening, reading, and writing (BYU), necessary for everyday communicative tasks. NYU exams also test your speaking ability.


On each of the 53 BYU language exams, candidates will:

  • Answer multiple choice questions which involve listening, reading, and writing skills in the target language.
  • Test with questions from a three-semester language track in the target language.
  • Expect no practice exams or test prep materials are available for the BYU language exams.
  • Take the test online within 2.5 hours at the assigned administrative testing center (USM/PLA Testing Center).
  • Earn up to 6 general elective (GEL) credits at USM (earned credits will differ at each institution).
  • Expect the offficial test scores to arrive within two to three weeks after the test date.

Candidates first register and pay for their exam ($50) at the BYU Exam site. USM charges a proctoring fee of $30 an hour for the 2.5 hour exam ($75). BYU exams require a minimum of two weeks notice for scheduling. Please contact: David Vardeman, Prior Learning Assessment, University of Southern Maine, 240 Luther Bonney Hall, 85 Bedford Street, Portland, Maine 04104-9300, 207-780-4578,

How to Request and Schedule the BYU Exam (click on this link)

Here are further links which provide more information about the BYU exams:


On each of the 51 NYU exams, candidates are required to:

  • Answer questions about a listening comprehension passage (speaking and listening).
  • Translate into English and the target test language (reading comprehension).
  • Write a short essay in response to a selection of general topics, and (writing).
  • Respond to short answer or multiple choice questions (reading and writing).
  • Test within the designated 2-hour (12 points) or 3-hour (16 points) pre-determined times.

NYU exams are given in pencil and paper format only, and require a minimum of two weeks notice for scheduling. The results of the language exams are valid for a period of five years from the date of the exam. Here is the USM Registration form.

How to Request and Schedule the NYU Exam (click on this link)

USM offers two versions of all fifty-one language exams: