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Geary Favors Stress On Writing, Speaking In Placement Exams

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University language placement tests are not indicative of the content of introductory foreign language courses, Edward J. Geary, associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, said yesterday. Students would do better on exams reflecting the reading speed and language creativity stressed in University courses, Geary said.

Placement tests currently given in lower-level courses were taken from the old College Board language exams. The one-hour, multiple-choice tests stress the matching of synonyms and vocabulary to the exclusion of an ability to write or speak in the language.

During the last exam period, only 67 of the 137 enrolled in French Ca passed the college language requirement with the required 560 on the placement test. In French Ra, 31 of 142 surpassed 560. Last year 60 of 130 in Ca and 50 in 185 in Ra passed, indicating that University language courses may be diverging further from the placement test contents.

In Spanish, one-fifth of Spanish A students passed the exam in their first try at the tests. Only 22 of 68 enrolled in Ca succeeded, after the equivalent of three semesters of study at the college. Geary emphasized that the placement tests are not valid standards of comparison for courses because of varying contents and quality of students in otherwise similar courses.

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