Russian Proficiency Exam

Purpose of the Russian Proficiency Examination (RPE)

The Department requires all graduate students to demonstrate an acceptable level of proficiency in Russian by passing the Russian Proficiency Examination (RPE) within four semesters of enrollment after entering the program (not counting summers or periods of study abroad). All students, except those with a university degree from a university whose primary language of instruction is Russian, must pass the RPE in order to receive a degree in the Department.

The RPE has two functions:

  • It is an eligibility requirement for the Master's degree and for the Ph.D.
  • It is a criterion to have a Graduate Teaching Associate appointment as a Russian instructor in the Department.

To qualify for a degree or to be appointed as a Russian instructor, students must pass all three portions of the Russian Proficiency Exam: Grammar, Translation, and Listening Comprehension/ Oral Interview portions of the RPE.

Description of the RPE

  • Grammar (1.5 hours). In this portion, students are asked 1) to fill in blanks in a text with grammatically correct forms; 2) replace certain grammatical constructions with equivalent ones and provide English equivalents, and 3) to correct the grammatical and stylistic mistakes in sample student compositions.
  • Translation (1.5 hours). In this portion, students translate two passages. One from Russian into English and one from English into Russian. Students are asked to provide a free translation and not a literal translation (i.e., please convey the meaning in conventional language instead of a word-for-word translation).
  • Listening Comprehension/Oral Interview (15-30 minutes). In this portion, students are interviewed in Russian by two members of the faculty. The departmental Graduate Studies Coordinator arranges for the administration of this examination for students who have passed the Reading and Grammar tests.

Administration of the RPE

The RPE is generally administered once per semester. Students who want to take RPE in a given semester must notify the Language Programs Coordinator in writing by the end of the first week of classes. The students must list all of the portions of the RPE that they wish to take (Grammar examination and/or Translation).

Students who have passed the Grammar and Translations portions of the RPE are allowed to take the Listening Comprehension/Oral Interview portion. This is scheduled by the Language Programs Coordinator on a case-by-case basis.

Retakes of the RPE

Students are allowed to take each component of the RPE three times.

Students who have passed some portions of the examination but not others need only retake the portions that they have yet to pass. They may wait at least one semester between each take, although the faculty strongly encourage students to complete the RPE requirement as soon as possible.
Students who fail to pass any of the components after three attempts will not be permitted to register.