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Graduate Language Examination


The Foreign Languages & Literatures section offers the Graduate Language Exam (GLE) for graduate students in those departments that require proficiency in a foreign language for the Ph.D. Currently, the graduate departments with a foreign language requirement are Architecture, Mathematics, Linguistics & Philosophy, and the Program in Science, Technology & Society. FL&L administers exams for languages that are offered at MIT (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). If a candidate wishes to be examined in a language not offered at MIT, his or her home department will have to arrange for this examination.

The examination is offered twice yearly, in November and April. The next GLE will be on Wednesday November 12, 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in Room 14E-304.

The GLE is administered according to the following procedures:

  1. Candidates fill out an application (available at the FL&L main office in 14N-305, and distributed to the graduate departments about 1 month before the application deadline) and provide materials (books or articles) from their field, totalling approximately 200 pages, to register for the exam. Materials must be brought at the time of registration. Candidates need to complete the application which includes an authorization to be signed by a faculty member in their field/department approving the selection of the materials chosen for the examination. The FL&L examiner is free to accept those materials as appropriate or suggest alternate material. Applications must be turned in at the FL&L main office two weeks prior to the exam date (by October 29, 2014 for exam given November 12, 2014).

    The GLE Application can be downloaded at the following link: GLEApplication.pdf

  2. The examiner will select two (2) distinct passages of approximately 40 lines each (at 70 characters per line length). One passage will be of a general nature, the other more technical.

  3. On the day of the exam, the candidate will be provided with standard exam "Blue Books," in which they are exptected to translate the two passages from the foreign language into English.

  4. During the exam, candidates may use a traditional (book) dictionary in order to complete the exam. However, electronic or online dictionaries are prohibited.

  5. The candidate has two hours to translate both passages. Failure to complete both passages will result in a non-passing grade. Additionally, the examiner may request oral clarification of ambiguous translations should the need arise. If necessary, use of a dictionary is permitted during the oral clarification.

  6. Judgment as to the accuracy of the translation rests with the examiner.

  7. Results of the test will be available one week after the examination in the Foreign Languages & Literatures office.

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