I took the Defense Language Proficiency Test

Hey everybody, it’s been a while since I posted here. As some of you know, I joined the Army to train to become a commissioned officer. In the military you get a chance to take different tests to get recognized for your skills. I took the DLPT for Russian. I figured that I knew how to talk with natives, read some simple news texts, and read recipes online, and I was offered the opportunity by my command, so I thought why not take the test? If one takes this test, receives a satisfactory grade, and it’s an in demand language, you will get extra pay. The catch: it’s only available to take if you’re in the U.S. military.

I have to say, this is one difficult test. Even the native speakers of Spanish, Russian, and German were struggling, but mind you that hey still achieved stellar scores. The test is comprised of reading and listening, so to the people that are hardcore LingQ users, this would be right up your alley! The first portion comprised of listening. We’d listen to a dialogue, either a rehearsed one, or a real clip from a news cast and we’d decipher what it is. You’d have to answer multiple choice questions. Not only you’d have to comprehend the question, you’d have to understand what the meaning of the passages were. Towards the end, the passages got a lot more difficult. My mind would turn into mush, because the vocabulary used were beyond my mode of understanding. They would get into topics such as Soviet military history and geopolitics. The questions would get more confusing themselves despite being in English. Even if you picked out some words in the passage, you don’t know if it’s part of the right answer, because the questions are looking for ‘the most right answer’ rather than a right answer.

The second part of the test was reading. I did better at reading, but still struggled. If I had the vocabulary of a college student, I think I’d have done well. The format was the same; multiple choice, the questions trying to confuse you, and the question looking for the most right answer rather than a right answer. I noticed that I could pick out a good fraction of the words and phrases, but like reading, my problem was vocabulary. If I had done more reading in varied topics, I’d done a lot better.

“Why are you telling us this, if we can’t take the test?” You might be asking. Good question! I wanted to see how my skills meshed up with military standards. I scored low, which I was disappointed, but not surprised at the same time. I think taking proficiency tests are a good way to gauge progress in learning, but I don’t think tests should be the end goal, because the philosophy by many here is “just have fun”. That being said, taking the test helped me reevaluate my learning methods in LingQ and encouraged me to start importing a lot of my own content to learn off of. My current goals are to expand my passivevocabulary even more, by focusing on quantity rather than quality, and to have more conversations with native speakers.

Thanks for reading!


You’ve got the right mindset, so I’m sure that you’ll do better next time! This was a rather useful read for me since I’d like to apply in the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at some point.


Steve Kauffman style!

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How does this test, DLPT, differ from DLABT? is the former a test of specific language’s knowledge whereas the latter is whether you merely have an aptitude for it?

Thanks for your service btw.

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Recently, I’d look at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and language requirements are quite high. Impeccable level in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. Besides, of course, the other knowledge needed to carry out the tests.

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Thank you, they let you retake it after 6 months. After Officer Candidate School, I plan on taking a hiatus to Ukraine for a bit. How did you enjoy your trip there? Did you feel being in the country after lots of LingQ time help your skill level?

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DLAB is a made up language that tests your aptitude and ability to learn a language quickly. It’s a very strange test. You have it right. The DLPT tests you in specific languages. They immediately start out with middle school level texts. No “fill in the blank” or “identify the noun” questions.

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Ukraine is a wonderful place. I was there in the end of december 2016 for a couple weeks and attended University classes there in May and June. I lived in Kiev and would always leave during the weekend and got to see Kharkov, Odesa, Lviv, and Chernovtsy. I spent enough time there to say that it definitely is safe and you won’t get into trouble if you’re not looking for it (much like in North America).

It definitely will help your Russian if you come prepared and aren’t shy. LingQ as much as you can before going there. I find ex-Soviets to be incredibly nice, helpful, and brutally honest. If you’re a soldier this brutal honesty shouldn’t bother you. You also have to know that in Kiev, they tend to mix Russian and Ukrainian which can be confusing if you don’t know both. They’re also quick to pick up on your accent and might try to answer in English. You also will encounter people who refuse to speak Russian. There are very few of these and politely ignoring them is probably the best option.

I have no idea how much you’ve travelled in your life, but the only downside is the culture shock. I find myself at home in the Baltics, whereas in Ukraine (and Georgia for that matter) I always felt out of place even though the place is great and I’ll be happy to go back in the future. It’s a completely different world.

Shoot me a PM if you ever need more info. I’m no expert but definitely know Kiev very well.

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