THE RUSSIAN EXAM CONSTRUCT
The Prototype AP Russian examination consists of four subtests, all of which are aimed at the direct assessment of functional proficiency within interpersonal, interpretive, presentational modes of communication, based on authentic speech samples.
The four sections of the exam are:
- Reading Comprehension (60 minutes)
- Listening Comprehension (45 minutes)
- Integrated Written Communication (IWC) (70 minutes)
- Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) (15-25 minutes)
Each of the exam sections contribute equally to the overall final Prototype AP grade. The Prototype AP Russian Examination targets language skills at levels of difficulty that are appropriate for American second language learners of Russian, beginning with Novice High through Intermediate High levels.
The reading comprehension section consists of short, authentic texts followed by one to three multiple-choice questions in English. Text types are varied and include a formatted layout, such as announcements, schedules, and brochures, as well as paragraph length. The topics range from personal information, basic needs, social conventions, and routine tasks, to formal announcements, pamphlets, etc., and to more advanced topics with lengthier prose text. Topics are those that will be of interest to high school students taking the exam and address both the interpersonal and interpretive modes of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning and are in keeping with the Fairness and Equity guidelines as put forth by Educational Testing Services.
Also a multiple-choice section, the listening comprehension closely parallels that of the reading comprehension section. Authentic spoken stimulus passages may include oral texts, conversations, announcements, radio clips or reports. In listening comprehension, the test-taker functions in several different roles, depending on the audio stimulus. For example, the test-taker may function as an over-hearer of a conversation or monologue, or may function as the addressee, if the audio is addressed to the test taker. Again, topics range from personal information, basic needs, social conventions, and routine tasks to formal announcements and reports over the media, to more advanced topics with extended discourse, such as interviews, short lectures, and news items. Similar to reading, topics will be of interest to the high school test-taker, and topics address the interpersonal and interpretive modes of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, while keeping with the Fairness and Equity guidelines as put forth by Educational Testing Service.
Integrated Written Communication (IWC)
The Integrated Written Communication (IWC) section of the exam is meant to assess the students’ overall language abilities across three skills. The goal is not the accumulation of facts in isolation, but rather the integration of knowledge and abilities in order to put their proficiency to use in a wider context. The writing section of the exam consists of Integrated Tasks.
The integrated tasks portion of the exam is "intermodal" and it requires students to function in more than one skill in order to work through a real-life situation. The test-takers are given two scenarios, each having two prompts (listening audio and reading passage), with each prompt requiring an extended written response. For example, a scenario might begin with an e-mail text (reading), requiring a written response, followed by a voice mail message (listening), requiring another written response, with the combination creating a contextualized situation. The information that test-takers use to compose their response(s) is provided in the listening and reading texts, and students have a choice of keyboard layout (phonetic or standard) for their Russian fonts. Students are instructed in English as to what the written task entails. Both the interpersonal and presentational modes of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning are addressed in this section of the test.
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
Finally, the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) of the exam follows the general procedures as established by the American Council of Foreign Language Teachers (ACTFL) for oral proficiency interviews. A trained tester conducts the oral proficiency interview over the telephone, and the interview typically lasts fifteen minutes for non-heritage speakers and twenty minutes for heritage speakers. The oral assessment remains authentic and unique to each student, allowing the student to demonstrate his or her highest sustainable proficiency level in speaking.