STAMP Benchmark Scale

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

STAMP Benchmark Scale

Benchmark Levels

Developmentally, test takers at different ages have a different approach to both topics/content and contexts.

Therefore, we have created our assessments with two developmental groupings in mind:

smiling student with headphone taking assessment.

Grade 7 through Adult


teacher helping girl.

Grade 6 and below


Scoring and rating for all STAMP assessments is done using benchmark levels. See the benchmark levels below.

Test takers may achieve the following benchmark levels:

  • Reading and Listening sections – 1-9 (Novice-Low through Advanced-High)
  • Writing and Speaking sections – 1-8 (Novice-Low through Advanced-Mid)

STAMP assessments with Self-Evaluated Reading and Listening sections (e.g. STAMP WS) will show scores preceded by SE (e.g. SE 1 – SE 7): 1-7* (Novice-Low through Advanced-Low).

* Note: self-evaluated Reading and Listening scores are not included in Composite score calculation.

STAMP Level Keys
STAMP Level Keys
STAMP SE level keys
STAMP SE Level Keys

 Please refer to the Reporting Guides for more information.

Test takers may achieve the following benchmark levels:

  • Reading and Listening – 1-6+ (Novice-Low through Pre-Advanced)
  • Writing and Speaking – 1-8 (Novice-Low through Advanced-Mid)

Please refer to the STAMPe Reporting Guide for more information.

Reading and Listening Sections

Reading & Listening Question Topics

The chart below shows topics typically associated with the Benchmark Levels for Reading and Listening questions. The chart also shows the reading and listening characteristics associated with the levels.

Benchmark LevelTopicsCharacteristics
Novice• Self
• Calendar/Time
• Colors/Shapes
• Pets/Animals
• School/Classroom
• Weather/Seasons
• Clothing
• Food/Beverage
• Family/Friends
• Home
• Places/Geography
• Community
• Daily Routines
• Shopping/Stores
• Leisure/Activities
Students who are reading or listening at Novice proficiency are characterized by:

• Reliance of learned phrases and basic vocabulary
• Ability to recognize the purpose of basic texts
• Can understand a core of simple, formulaic utterances
Intermediate• Health
• Holidays/Celebrations
• Occupations/Professions
• Transportation/Travel/Vacations
• Future Plans
• Culture
• Contemporary Issues
• Current Events
• Economics
• Literature
• Science
• Social Science
• History
• Plus more in-depth aspects of Novice topics
Students who are reading or listening at Intermediate proficiency are characterized by:

• In reading, ability to understand the main ideas and explicit detail in everyday language
• Ability to use language knowledge to understand information in everyday materials
• Can follow short conversations and announcements on common topics and answer questions about the main idea and explicitly stated details
Advanced• Art
• Politics
• Religion
• Math
• Plus more in-depth aspects of Novice and Intermediate topics
Students who are reading or listening at Advanced proficiency are characterized by:

• Can understand and use language for straightforward informational purposes.
• Can understand the content of most factual, non-specialized materials intended for a general audience
• Can understand the content of most spoken factual, non-specialized language

Please note that the topic is not the only criteria for determining the STAMP test question level. A Novice level test taker may know learned phrases and basic vocabulary about topics that may appear within Intermediate or Advanced levels.

Also, test questions may have elements of multiple topics. For example, a Novice level question about Calendar/Time might reference Holidays/Celebrations. The topics may be used as a guide for instruction but are not a complete scope and sequence.

The Reading and Listening section scores are generated by the computer.
Each Reading and Listening 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 Reading and Listening looks at the number of questions that were answered correctly at each benchmark level.

Writing and Speaking Sections

The Writing and Speaking responses are rated by Avant Certified Raters. 

Rating for the Avant Writing and Speaking responses is done using the following three-step rating process and the STAMP Scoring Rubric for all Writing and Speaking responses.

Rating Process

STEP 1 – Overall evaluation of the response to assess for ratability

Avant raters first determine if the response is on topic and appropriate for the given prompt. If the response is off-topic, contains any profanity, or includes any menacing or threatening language, or if it has non-target language, the response will be treated as unresponsive and receive a Zero score. If the test taker experienced technical issues or was not able to set up the keyboard for character-based languages, they will receive a “NR” score for that response. Please refer to Avant’s Test Retake and Reset Policy for more information.

STEP 2 – Evaluation of each ratable response.

Avant raters evaluate each ratable response to determine a Benchmark Level based upon the Text-Type characteristics (Novice-Low through Advanced-Mid), along with an indication of the Language Control (accuracy/comprehensibility) with a possible score of High, Average, or Low.

STEP 3 – Posting scores for each response.

The system will then report ratings for each of the three responses, which are used to calculate the final score for the skill.

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

The same rubric is used for all Speaking and Writing responses. Individual responses are moved into the Avant Rating system once all three prompts have been submitted by the test taker.  The promised turnaround time is based on the date of the last completed response.  There is an expected turnaround time of 7-10 days for most languages with a 10–12 day turnaround for less commonly tested languages.

STAMP Scoring Rubric

The STAMP Scoring 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.

LevelText TypeLanguage Control
(STAMP Level 1)

Shows ability to produce individual words that could be related to the prompt
Use of isolated words that deal with the prompt/task, shows inability to connect words in order to create meaningLimited vocabulary which deals with the prompt or situationErrors in spelling, word order, word choice, and usage limit communication. Language produced can only be understood by the reader/listener with great effort by someone accustomed to a language learner
(STAMP Level 2)

Shows ability to create simple meaning by grammatically connecting words, specifically, some basic subjects and verbs or verbs and objects, but may be inconsistent at doing this
Single, isolated connections to verbs. May be inconsistent at connecting words grammatically or have errors throughout; however, the errors must not prevent understanding of what is being saidTypically limited in their vocabulary to Novice level topics that they experience in every-day life or that they have recently learnedErrors in grammar, word order and word choice are prevalent and limit communication; Language produced is understood with difficulty by someone accustomed to a language learner
(STAMP Level 3)
Simple Sentences

Shows ability to create simple sentences with very basic grammatical control
Shows the ability to use very simple structures and functions of the language that have just been learned or studied; Extensive use of formulaic sentences, phrases and memorized sayingsGenerally, sentences that are created use basic vocabulary words with limited ability to elaborateErrors in grammar, usage, word order, and word choice sometimes limit communication; Language produced is mostly understood by someone accustomed to a language learner with some effort

Level Text TypeLanguage Control

(STAMP Level 4)
Strings of Sentences

Shows ability to create simple sentences with some added detail; Simple sentences with different forms of added detail are generally produced with no connections or links to each other
Shows the ability to produce simple sentences that are enhanced by the use of prepositional phrases, adverbs, etc.; Independent sentences (ideas) can be moved around without affecting the overall meaning of the responseVocabulary is beginning to expand beyond the most frequent words and the ability to elaborate is more evident in the language produced; Drawn from daily lifeErrors in usage, grammar, word order, and word choice continue to be common, but generally do not hinder communication; Language produced is understood by someone accustomed to a language learner with little effort
(STAMP Level 5)
Connected Sentences

Shows ability to create enough language to address a majority of the prompt or situation, showing groupings of ideas; Thoughts are loosely connected and generally cannot be moved around without affecting meaning
Demonstrates the ability to create enough language that shows the beginning of connectedness; Able to create several sentences with complexity and may use some transition words; Connectedness begins to emerge as they create ‘groupings of sentences’; Learners begin to transfer previously learned skills and language to new structures/functionsVocabulary use is expanding, and language used is more than just the usual, high frequency or most commonly used vocabulary; May begin to use circumlocution haltingly due to limited vocabularyShows ability to use more than just simple present tense, however errors occur when trying to use other tenses; New skills, such as creating more complex sentence structures or using other tenses, will generate some errors; Language produced is easily understood by someone accustomed to a language learner
(STAMP Level 6)

Shows ability to create language with a more natural flow; The increased number of complex structures are well constructed; Sentences and ideas are connected with multiple, varied connectors, transitions and other linking strategies
Shows the ability to use different time frames and just beginning to develop the ability to switch most time frames (present, past and future) with increased accuracy; Complexity and variety of sentence types and structures is increasing, helping move response to a more natural and smooth flowUse of transition words and concepts with more ease is evident in language production; Circumlocution is used more effectively; Ability to create new language on less common topics is evidentAt this level, good control of the language and confidence is evident with an increasing range of topics. There are still occasional errors in language production, but errors do not hinder ability to communicate; Language produced is generally understood by someone accustomed and those unaccustomed to a language learner.

LevelText TypeLanguage Control
(STAMP Level 7)
Paragraph/Advanced Language

Shows ability to address each aspect of the response with Complex structures, which demonstrate an increasing ability to produce a greater depth of meaning with language that effectively and more thoroughly addresses each aspect of the prompt; Able to create a paragraph-length description with a natural flow
Shows the ability to create a smooth and natural flow by using a variety of added details, complex grammar and descriptive language; Shows ability to switch time frames naturally with a high degree of accuracy; Ability to use a wide variety of sentence structures, patterns and tenses is evident in communications.Use of advanced vocabulary (less frequent and specialized), advanced structures and/or terms evident; Able to address a wide variety of ‘less common’ topics; Advanced language is used within the response, which helps demonstrate an increased ability to more effectively demonstrate their language skillsMajority of language is error-free, creating a smooth and natural flow; However, there may still be occasional errors, but without pattern or causing any breakdown in communication; Language produced is easily understood by those unaccustomed to language learners; Use of correct orthography (elements of writing such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, accents, tonal markers, umlauts etc.) increases in importance – especially if the desire is to reach Advanced levels; Correct orthography is expected to meet basic WORK and/or academic writing needs at the Advanced level
(STAMP Level 8)
Extended Paragraph and Language

Shows ability to confidently address each aspect of the prompt with clear organization and a native-like flow; Able to incorporate a significant number of complexities with higher degree of accuracy throughout, giving that depth of meaning expected at Advanced-Mid; Shows skill with creating a response that is interwoven with lexical and syntactic density, which one might expect to see at the Advanced level. Increasing ability to extend discourse beyond immediate experience to better address the prompt
Shows the ability to create sophisticated language with in-depth description and narration interwoven throughout; Syntactic density is evident as well; Ability to switch time frames is natural and generally without error; Complex structures and grammar are used to create linguistic diversity in the languageEffective use of concise language across a wide variety of topics is evident; Vocabulary helps create Advanced language throughout the response, demonstrating a deeper cultural understanding, adding more clarity and depth of meaningLanguage is almost entirely error free, creating a smooth and natural flow; Any errors in the language are not easily identified and do not occur in any patterned way. Language produced is native-speaker-like and understood by those unaccustomed to language learners; Uses correct orthography throughout the response; Correct orthography is expected to meet basic WORK and/or academic writing needs at the Advanced level