AN/ann/akn-299 second proficiency examination

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Important notice for AN students:

Given that non-credit-system students must finish their studies in 2006, the Department of English Applied Linguistics has decided to save the marks obtained at the AN-299 comprehensive examination for one semester for those AN students who cannot have their mark entered because of missing pre-requisites other than AN-204, AN-206 and AN-208.

Statement of purpose

The ANN-299 examination is a proficiency test for English majors, which aims at testing the language proficiency of learners in both general and academic English. The examination consists of a written and an oral part and tests the candidate’s ability to use English at near-native proficiency level in formal non-academic and academic language use settings.
General information

This examination closes the Main Tier, and is usually taken at the end of the fifth semester. Pre-requisites for non-credit students are all 100 and 200 courses except 219 (you must have a valid mark in them by the last day of the examination period).Pre-requisites for credit students are the 204, 206, and 208 courses. AKN students are strongly advised to take one or more 200 level language courses to obtain a sense of the level of the oral and written proficiency requirements at the 299 examination.

The examination CANNOT be retaken in the same examination period. In case of failure or no-show, the examination can be attempted again in the next examination period. Nevertheless, the student may go on and take courses in the subsequent term, but their validity will depend on whether the second proficiency examination is successfully passed at the end of that term.
Before the examination

Those who intend to take the examination are required to sign up both for the written and for the oral part of the examination. Signing up for the written examination takes place in the ETR system ONE MONTH prior to the end of the semester. The sign-up sheets for the oral examinations are available in Room 330/A about 2-3 weeks before the examination. Results are posted under the students’ EHA codes.
1. Written examination

A. Procedures

Working time: 3 hours.

Credit books or IDs are checked on entering the room and during the examination. Students who cheat are suspended, which will automatically result in a fail mark. Students can use only one printed monolingual dictionary that does not only give synonyms and/or antonyms but defines the words in English. Acceptable monolingual dictionaries are, for example, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Macmillan English Dictionary, Cambridge Advanced Dictionary, or The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Unacceptable reference books include such publications as thesauri, dictionaries of collocations, for example, Roget’s Thesaurus, The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, Longman Language Activator, Oxford Wordpower Dictionary, or Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English.)

Before the examination examinees will be asked the following:

  • switch off and put away your mobile phones

  • do not leave anything on the table except for your credit book or ID, ONE monolingual dictionary, and pens

  • do not talk during the exam

  • put your name and EHA code (e.g. AVALAAF.ELTE) on each sheet of the test paper

  • write in ink

  • write legibly

  • leave margins

  • do not write any part of your essay on the letter task sheet or the sheets following it

  • use the back side of the task sheet to write drafts; ask if you need more paper for drafting

  • do not write the final draft on the extra sheets you ask for

  • you can write for 3 hours

  • if you wish to go to the restroom, the time when you leave and return will be recorded on your paper. You must be back in 5 minutes!

B. Structure of the written examination

The written part of the examination comprises an argumentative essay and a short formal writing task.
1.) Argumentative essay

Students are given a short passage to read. They choose their own topic and write an argumentative essay (450-500 words) based on one thematic aspect of the text (a topic that the text discusses or a topic about which the text formulates at least one statement) which they wish to develop in greater depth. They are not supposed to comment on the text or respond to it. They also need to give their essay an appropriate title.
2.) Short task

Students are required to write a short formal letter (150-200 words). The topic of the letter prompt may not necessarily be directly related to the essay prompt. Guidelines concerning the content are always given.
C. Criteria for assessment of the written examination

1.) Essay (24 points)

All essays are read by independent readers.

Scores: 0-3 in each of four main criteria.

Total scores range from 0 to 12 and are converted to scores of 0 to 24, in order to give proper weighting to the essay task in the written examination.
Main criteria:


presence and quality of controlling idea, topic choice

quantity and quality of support (presence of all important aspects of topic, relevance of support, presence of persuasive ideas, arguments not based on clichés)


introduction, conclusion, title

cohesion, coherence



mechanics (punctuation and spelling), length



style (formal)

2.) Letter (12 points)

All letters are read independent readers.
Scores: 0-3 in each of four main criteria

Total scores range from 0 to 12.
Main criteria:


(this is specified according to the task)


(following the conventions of the given letter-type and the logical organisation of ideas)


(structure and mechanics)


(vocabulary and style)

Students have to reach 60 per cent in EACH part of the examination (that is, 22 points in the written, and 14 converted points in the oral part) in order to pass the examination. Furthermore, students who score 0 in the criteria of accuracy and/or vocabulary in the written part of the examination fail the examination regardless of all their other points.

If an essay is not related directly to a thematic aspect (a topic that the text discusses or a topic about which the text formulates at least one statement) of the prompt, the paper is a fail.

2. Oral examination

A. Procedures

Time: approximately 20 minutes.

Credit books or IDs and pre-requisites are checked by the examiners.
B. Structure of the oral examination

Students take the oral examination in pairs, and they both have to be taking the examination officially (that is, both students must be officially registered for the second proficiency examination). They start the examination by picking three topic cards from which they have to choose one. They can prepare separately for 5 minutes, but they are not allowed to use their notes during the discussion part of the examination. They are required to discuss the topic in the form of a conversation. An in-depth treatment of the topic is expected, i.e. students are required to lead a discussion on an abstract level.
C. Criteria for assessment of the oral examination

Students’ performances are evaluated by two assessors.
Scores: 0-3 in each of four main criteria

Total scores range from 0 to 12 and are converted to scores of 0 to 24, in order to give proper weighting to the oral examination.
Main criteria:

vocabulary and fluency


accuracy (of grammar and pronunciation)
The results of the oral examination are communicated to each pair immediately after they have taken the examination.
Students have to reach 60 per cent in EACH part of the examination ( that is, at least 22 points in the written, and 14 converted points in the oral part) in order to pass the examination.
Final results are posted on the Department’s bulletin board approximately four weeks after the day of the written examination.

Further details are available from the Examination Co-ordinator (Katalin Brózik-Piniel, Room 321).

Sample examination
299 Language Proficiency Examination

May 1999

Working time for the two tasks: 3 hours
Task I. Essay
Read the following passage carefully. Write an argumentative essay of 450-500 words based on one thematic aspect of the text (a topic that the text discusses or a topic about which the text formulates at least one statement) which you wish to develop in greater depth. Please remember that you are not supposed to comment on the text or write a response to it. Do not forget to give your essay a title.
Your essay will be evaluated on the basis of the presence and quality of a controlling idea and thesis, the quantity and quality of support, organisation (introduction, conclusion, coherence, cohesion, paragraphing), expression (language use and structure) and mechanics. Your essay will be downgraded if you exceed the word limit.
Please write your name on every single page you use.
Four months ago, I moved from California to New York City to take a teaching job. I soon became acquainted with many beggars in my Upper West Side neighbourhood.

There is the tattered entertainer who cheerfully sings "I love New York." There was the 90-pound man, with a cancerous whisper, absent lately; perhaps with the onset of winter he is dead from AIDS. The other day I came upon a woman sitting on a ledge. As I passed, she said softly she was starving. She spoke so quietly that her words could have been my conscience talking. When I kept moving, she let out a tubercular cough, deep and wrenching.

I hate her. I hate them all.

It didn’t start this way. At first I dug into my pockets. Liberal companions laughed at such stupidity, or looked oddly as I put money in cups. In the last two months or so, I haven’t given a thing to anyone. I will take a cab on the short trip home, which costs four bucks - more than I might give- just to avoid running the gauntlet of stretched hands.

And I’m a liberal. How do conservatives feel?

Despite the holiday season, now that New York has begun a crackdown on the homeless in the subways and the Port Authority bus terminal, how do we all feel? When others come upon a panhandler, are they a bit uneasy? If they give, how do they react to the eighth panhandler in two blocks, or the aggressive one who won’t take no for an answer?

I’m not going to offer any excuse about "compassion fatigue", a bit of rot coined by San Francisco’s Mayor, Art Agnos. The result of doing nothing is hatred.

I did not confront these feelings until I came here. There was no shortage of panhandlers near my home in Sacramento, California. When I did see them I usually gave. When I did not want to see them, I changed my walking route or drove my car. In New York, you cannot avoid them.

Task II. Short formal writing task
The American Good Samaritan Charity Organisation has established a shelter for the homeless next to your house. This has met with the disapproval of the neighbourhood. Since you are the most proficient speaker of English in the neighbourhood, you have been selected to write a letter of complaint of approximately 150-200 words to the head of the charity organisation in which you outline the situation and ask for immediate action.
The letter will be evaluated on the basis of content, expression, register, structure, and mechanics.
You will lose points for exceeding the word limit.
Start writing here and use the reverse side of the paper if necessary.


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