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The National Examinations in World Languages are online proficiency exams for language learners of Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian seeking college placement and/or credit.


Developed by American Councils, NEWL® is an online language assessment in four critical languages: Arabic (MSA), Korean, Portuguese (global), and Russian. The exams measure functional language proficiency across four skills: reading and listening comprehension, speaking, and writing.

Targeted for traditional foreign language learners and heritage learners, NEWL exams produce AP®-style score reports, which can be used to apply for college credit and/or placement.

*Source: MLA survey on foreign language enrollments, 2013 

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2021 NEWL Registration

Registration for the 2021 National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL) for Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian opens on December 1, 2020. Once registration opens, students may apply here. The last day to apply for NEWL 2021 Main examination will be April 1, 2021. All parents and teachers who have applied on behalf of their student(s) by April 1st will then be sent a packet of information including a roster via email to complete the registration. Parents and teachers will then have until April 18, 2021 to register their student(s).

For more information on testing dates and other details, please see NEWL Dates Deadlines & Fees.

Test Dates 2021

Practice Exams: Tuesday, February 2 – Thursday, February 4, 2021

Korean Main: Monday, April 26, 2021
Arabic Main: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Portuguese Main: Thursday, April 29 & Friday, April 30
Camões and FLAD Testing (Portuguese): Monday, May 17th
Russian Main: Wednesday, May 5, Thursday, May 6, 2021 & Friday, May 7, 2021

NEWL Remote Test Administration

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and in pursuit of our commitment to providing secure, verified testing to our students, American Councils has rapidly pivoted its online testing model to support remotely-monitored, at-home testing. In order to maintain the integrity of our high-stakes assessments while accommodating at-home testing, the assessment team has further adapted its proctoring and monitoring procedures to incorporate live remote supervision via Zoom, with a number of monitoring and security steps taken to ensure the validity of all testing results. Students sitting for the exam at home will be monitored online by American Councils, Washington, DC—based specialists rather than teachers or school administrators, who will only be responsible for registration.

NEWL 2021 Orientations

In order to further ensure a secure testing site and adequate review of the testing guidelines for each test-taker, American Councils now holds mandatory pre-testing orientation sessions, comprised of a review of the new testing manuals and Zoom monitoring policies. Students will be sent more information regarding available orientation times once the application deadline closes on April 1st.

Orientation Dates 2021

Practice: Tuesday, January 26 – Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Korean: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Arabic: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Portuguese: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Russian: Friday, April 23, 2021

Qualifications For NEWL

The exam content of NEWL targets individuals who have completed a minimum of two to three years (or the equivalent) of academic work in the target language and culture. While both traditional and heritage learners are encouraged to take NEWL exams, American Councils only allows students who are enrolled in 9th grade or above, OR who have turned 14 before September 1, 2020 to take the 2021 scheduled NEWL exams. The NEWL exam is intended only for secondary school students who wish to engage in a rigorous university-level study before high school graduation.

Rating the NEWL Integrated Speaking and Writing Tasks

Beginning in 2019, all four test sections of NEWL will take place within ACTesting. NEWL will assess proficiency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing as always, with no changes in the format of the listening and reading sections. The writing and speaking sections, however, will be based on an integrated task model, the same model used in the Russian written integrated tasks in the Prototype-AP Russian Examination prior to 2015.

Our trained raters will use the criteria in the rubric to determine a holistic rating for all four responses to the integrated tasks (IT) in each skill (writing, speaking). The raters will listen or read the examinee’s responses, and ask themselves questions like: Did the examinee adequately perform the task? How does the examinee’s lexical control relate to the criteria for each level? How does the examinee’s grammatical accuracy correspond to the criteria? Were the examinee’s responses relatively simple, like lists, or did they contain connected discourse? Would the examinee’s responses be easily comprehensible to a native speaker unused to dealing with non-native learners?

The IT responses will be randomly distributed among the rater panel, and each rater will receive a balanced slate of responses from female and male, heritage and non-heritage examinees.

Integrated Speaking and Writing Tasks Rubric

Sample Items

We currently have a database of sample items, which we are continuously expanding:

Please note that we at American Councils Assessment emphasize drawing exam materials directly from the cultures and contexts from which we are testing, so we advise all instructors to have their students read and listen to authentic material (books, news reports, TV shows, etc.) and to prepare them to answer questions drawn from those sources. 


NEWL was developed in collaboration with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). NEWL has also received endorsements from and works in partnership with the American Council for Teachers of Russian (ACTR), Qatar Foundation International (QFI), the International Korean Educators Network (IKEN), Korean Education Centers in the USA and Canada, and the Camoes Institute. 




NEWL in the Media

The Korean Daily (Korean)

The Portuguese Newsletter- The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese AATSP (English and Portuguese) 

Additional Forms

Accommodation Eligibility

Refund Request Form

Reduced Fee Form

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