APT Benchmark Scale

Test takers receive a score (Benchmark Level) for each section of the test. Benchmark Levels are grouped by major levels (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior). Within Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels are three sub-levels (low, mid, high) that are aligned to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

Benchmark Levels

Scoring and rating for APT is done using benchmark levels. Test takers may achieve the following benchmark levels for Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking sections:

  1. Novice-Low
  2. Novice-Mid
  3. Novice-High
  4. Intermediate-Low
  5. Intermediate-Mid
  6. Intermediate-High
  7. Advanced-Low
  8. Advanced-Mid
  9. Advanced-High
  10. Superior

 Please refer to the Reporting Guide for more information.

Writing and Speaking Sections

Arabic Proficiency Test Scoring Rubric

The Writing and Speaking responses are rated by Avant Certified Raters using the Arabic Proficiency Test (APT) Scoring Rubric. The rubric outlines in detail what expectations are placed upon the test takers for performance at any given level. Test takers who hope to attain a specific level should know the characteristics of the work they must produce to meet the requirements of that proficiency level.

Benchmark LevelText Type and Language Control
Produces words in target language with no connection. Does not have enough vocabulary or the ability necessary to formulate even simple phrases to address the prompt. Limited language control. Inability to create more than individual words. L1 (first language) influence may be strong. Errors are expected at this level, but the student must be able to produce at least two comprehensible words.
Language production is beyond individual words but clearly shows the lack of ability to construct more than phrases. May include one simple sentence, but incapable of showing more. May make frequent errors, but usually comprehensible to a sympathetic reader/listener. L1 (first language) influence may be present.
Short, common expressions or memorized statements that may be combined together. Able to create at least 2 different simple sentences. Good accuracy for high frequency expressions. Usually comprehensible to a sympathetic reader/listener. Grammatical (syntax, spelling, conjugation) errors are expected at this level but sentences must make sense to be acceptable.
Variety of sentences that utilize different verbs to create independant thoughts, mostly composed of a recombination of learned simple sentences with added detail in the form of prepositional phrases and verbal phrases. Good accuracy with formulaic sentences with some added detail. Errors may occur as student attempts higher level skills. Good Language Control is expected with the majority of the response.
Logical organization of ideas and flow of sentences or statements. Contains at least 2 unique and non-formulaic sentences intermixed with a variety of sentences creating ‘groupings of sentences showing connectedness. Good accuracy evident with possible errors that don’t affect the overall meaning. Delivery may be somewhat choppy. May have repetitive use of concrete vocabulary with occasional use of expanding terms. Accuracy for complex sentences is emerging.
Able to demonstrate an Intermediate-High control of the language. Complexity is evident. Transition words and connectors are used correctly and efficiently a majority of the time to create a flow within the response. Groups of sentences focus on different aspects of the prompt and include transition words or phrases to introduce next concept. Does not have Advanced vocabulary or language to move into the Advanced level. Response is well written and constructed. Intermediate-High sentence structures can be found throughout response. Demonstrates beginning ability to create a coherent response with increased use of complexity as well as transition words and phrases. No evidence of advanced vocabulary.
A paragraph response with advanced language with complexity, syntactical and grammatical control transitional words and phrases found within the text creating a natural flow. Demonstrates a connection of thoughts that create a coherent and extended discourse. Language is error-free a majority of the time with familiar topics. If errors exist, they are patterned and do not hinder overall meaning. Delivery is mostly fluent with only occasional hesitancy. Some abstract and precise use of vocabulary and terms with familiar topics is evident.
Variety of cohesive devices and organizational patterns are evident throughout response. Vocabulary is clear, specific and natural. Language is smooth and native-like in delivery and without noticeable errors. Language is presented with limited errors, if any. Ability to create complex language using precise and extensive vocabulary. Control of the abstract as well as ease of use in idiomatic phrases and concepts. Clear sequential ordering evident (if required) and accurately follows target language conventions.
Able to use a variety of complex sentence structures to write related to common events, activities, and topics that are appropriate for the writer’s age and with which the writer might be expected to be familiar. Advanced-level writing is well organized, with a beginning, middle, and end, and often covers multiple time frames with a good degree of accuracy. Common errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar may still occur.
Able to express and support an opinion on a variety of abstract topics. Able to use precise vocabulary to explain complex issues and to argue effectively for their point of view. Writing is carefully organized. Arguments are well thought out and thoroughly developed. Occasional, minimal errors may occur, but do not distort the meaning of ideas expressed in text.

The Rating Process for Writing and Speaking Responses

Rating for Writing and Speaking responses is done using the following three-step process and associated rubric.


Overall evaluation of the response to assess for Ratability: is the response on-topic and appropriate for the given prompt/task? If the response is off-topic, contains any profanity, or includes any menacing or threatening language, the response will be treated as unresponsive or non-ratable and the test taker will receive a “NR” score for that task.


Evaluation of each ratable response to determine a Proficiency Level based upon the Text-Type characteristics.


The system will then post a rating for each of the tasks, according to the rubric below. The individual scores are then used to calculate the score for the domain.

Each ratable Writing and Speaking response will have a score of either Superior, Advanced-Low, -Mid or -High, Intermediate-Low, -Mid or -High, or Novice-Low, -Mid or -High.

Note: 20% of all test taker scores are rated by a second rater to assist in tracking rater accuracy and reliability.

The test taker’s Proficiency Levels in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking will be displayed on the Testing Group Details screen.

See the APT Reporting Guide for more information.

Reading and Listening Sections

The Reading and Listening section scores are generated by the computer.
Each question has an associated benchmark level. Test takers experience questions at various levels because the reading and listening sections are computer-adaptive. The algorithm used to determine the test taker’s scores for these sections looks at the number of questions that were answered correctly at each benchmark level.