Graduate Reading Exams in Spanish

**The next graduate reading exam for the Fall 2020 semester will be announced at the beginning of the semester.
You must contact the exam administrator, Dr. Mark Darhower, at least 3 weeks prior to the exam to schedule your participation

Please email any questions to Dr. Darhower

The M.A. foreign language reading requirement can be met in one of two ways:

1) Submit to the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures an official or unofficial college transcript that shows a 300-level class taken and completed with a C or higher.

2) Take the graduate reading exam.

The exam is typically scheduled once or twice each fall and spring semester. Exams are not given in the summer. Please contact the exam administrator by email at least three weeks before you wish to take the exam. Include the following in your email:

  • Academic department and major field of study.
  • Specific concentration within your discipline, and area of special interest (e.g. English: American literature, Southern writers).
  • Name of graduate advisor
  • Student number

The exam consists of two parts, both of which involve translation from Spanish to English. Students are given three hours to complete the exam and they may bring a paper Spanish-English dictionary. Online resources are not permitted during the exam.

Part 1 consists of a series of approximately 10 sentences, not necessarily related to each other, that test control of various grammatical structures, verb tenses, and recognition of false cognates. Look below for a Part 1 practice exam.

Part 2 contains reading passages related to the student's area of specialization. Students may locate three research articles (of at least 7 pages each) in Spanish in journals in their field of study and send the articles in .pdf format to the exam administrator at least a week prior to the test date, from which the administrator will select the exam text. Alternatively, the student may ask the administrator to select the exam text. 

Students are encouraged to prepare for the exam by reading and practicing translating several articles in their field of study, as well as reviewing a Spanish grammar book such as:

  • Resnick, Seymour, William Giuliano, and Phyllis M. Golding. En breve: A Concise Review of Spanish Grammar. 5th ed. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2002.

There is also a self-guided Moodle space (FLS 401 SPanish for Graduate Students) that contains practice activities. Email the exam administrator to request access. To get the most out of the Moodle site, the student should have a Spanish grammar textbook such as  En breve, which is available on textbook reserve in the library. Other Spanish grammar books could also be used. A useful online resource for Spanish grammar from the Spanish in Texas Project at the University of Texas-Austin can be found here:

Students must score at least 65% on each part of the exam to pass. The exam may retaken the following semester if the first attempt is not successful.

For more information on fulfilling the graduate reading requirement in a foreign language, see



With the aid of a dictionary, translate the following passages into accurate and, at the same time, natural-sounding English. (Grammar, idioms, cognates, and false cognates). Then check your answers at the bottom of the page.

1. La América Latina ha sido un amigo cuya fidelidad los Estados Unidos no ha valorado como debe.

2. Se descubrió petróleo en esta región, y para exportarlo se construyó un oleoducto a través de las montañas a la costa.

3. En el siglo veinte aparece en aquel continente la idea de asistencia obligatoria a la escuela. Sin embargo, por lo general era más un ideal que una realidad. La falta de recursos impedía que la enseñanza llegara a los niños rurales.

4. El famoso valle central, donde viven la mayor parte de los chilenos, aunque no es tan extenso como la pampa argentina, es lo más rico de Chile.

5. Algunas semanas antes de que muriera Bolívar, ciertos venezolanos se habían rebelado contra la Gran Colombia y se habían declarado independientes.

6. Compatriotas, no perdamos esperanza. A pesar de las desgracias que acabamos de sufrir, saldremos victoriosos si trabajamos juntos.

7. Según Rodó, hay que juzgar a un país no por sus masas sino por su minoría selecta.

8. Fue una victoria tenue que no resolvió nada, y en 1979 volvió a estallar la guerra civil.

9. Después de una campaña vigorosa llegó a ser gobernador, una posición en la cual tuvo gran éxito.

10. Tenemos que decírselo para que esté preparado para los sucesos que vendrán.

11. Actualmente el Brasil tiene la deuda externa más alta del tercer mundo.

12. Hacía más de dos meses que la expedición buscaba la tierra de El Dorado. Cuando por fin pusieron pie en tierra firme y vieron ante ellos un grupo de hombres sucios y enfermos vestidos de pieles y media docena de casas medio derruidas, no quisieron creerlo.

13. El ferrocarril Guayaquil-Quito, al ascender los Andes, pasa por sesenta y siete túneles y llega a una altura de dieciséis mil pies.

14. En 1830 el general Flores se proclamó presidente del Ecuador, el cual se separó de la Gran Colombia.

15. ¿Cuáles serán las consecuencias políticas y sociales de los cambios en el trabajo? Nadie lo sabe por seguro. Lo que  sabemos es que la revolución de la información ya está modificando el lugar de trabajo.

16. Si pudiera cambiar algo en mi papá, sería su actitud pesimista. Me gustaría que fuera más optimista, que pensara en las cosas buenas que pueden suceder.

17. Hace veinte años que pasamos las vacaciones en la playa. Hagamos algo diferente esta vez. Vamos a las montañas.



1. Latin America has been a friend whose loyalty the United States has not valued as it should.

2. Petroleum was discovered in this region, and in order to export it an oil pipeline was built across/through the mountains to the coast.

3. In the twentieth century there appears on that continent the idea of obligatory school attendance. Nevertheless, it was generally more an ideal than a reality. The lack of resources impeded instruction from reaching rural children.

4. The famous central valley, where the majority of Chileans live, although it is not as extensive/vast as the Argentine pampa, is the richest part of Chile.

5. Some weeks before Bolivar died, certain Venezuelans had rebelled against Gran Colombia and had declared themselves independent.

6. Fellow countrymen, let us not lose hope. In spite of the misfortunes we have just suffered, we will emerge/come out victorious if we work together.

7. According to Rodo, one must judge a country not by/on the basis of its masses but rather by its select minority.

8. It was a tenuous victory that resolved nothing, and in 1979 civil war broke out again.

9. After a vigorous campaign he became governor, a position in which he was greatly successful.

10. We have to tell him/tell it to him so that he is/will be prepared for the events to come.

11. Currently Brazil has the highest external/foreign debt in the Third World.

12. The expedition had been looking for the land of El Dorado for over/more than two months. When they finally set foot on solid land/terra firma and saw before them a group of dirty, sick men clothed in skins and a half dozen houses half tumbling down, they refused to believe it.

13. The Guayaquil-Quito railroad, on ascending the Andes, passes through seventy-seven tunnels and reaches an altitude of sixteen thousand feet.

14. In 1830 General Flores proclaimed himself president of Ecuador, which separated from Gran Colombia.

15. What will be the political and social consequences of the changes in work? Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that the information revolution is already modifying the workplace.

16. If I could change something in my father, it would be his pessimistic attitude. I would like him to be/I wish that he were more optimistic, that he would think about the good things that can happen.

17. We've been spending vacations at the beach for twenty years. Let's do something different this time. Let's go to the mountains.