FAQs

General questions

Which level should be chosen?

The ALC is designed in three levels based approximately on hours of language learning. However, the hours of language learning should be considered only as a guide. The questions in the tests are not based on which year level students are in, but rather their familiarity with the language, based on how long they've been learning it, the nature of the classroom program and on their opportunities to experience the language in use. 

  • The Primary Certificate is for students who have studied the target language for approximately 60 hours by August in the year of testing. It includes Listening, Reading and Vocabulary tasks.
  • Certificate 1 is for students who have studied the target language for approximately 100 hours by August in the year of testing.
  • Certificate 2 is for students who have studied the target language for approximately 200 hours by August in the year of testing.
  • Certificate 3 is for students who have studied the target language for approximately 300 hours by August in the year of testing.
  • Certificates 1, 2 and 3 involve Listening and Reading tasks.

Sample materials provide a guide to the average degree of difficulty for each certificate level.

Note: The recommended study hours of target languages (as detailed for each level certificate above) should also be guided by teacher knowledge of student skills.

Who can participate in the ALC?

Primary and secondary school students studying Chinese Additional/Second Language, Chinese Background, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Modern Greek and Spanish can participate in and benefit from the ALC.

How is the ALC delivered?

Students take part in the ALC online. After testing, educators are provided with interactive reports containing accurate descriptors of students' proficiency levels. 

How long do the tests take to complete?

The advised times for each test are as follows:

Set up/administration (All certificates): 10 minutes

Primary:  approximately 40 minutes

Certificate 1 Listening: approximately 30 minutes

Certificate 1 Reading: approximately 30 minutes

Certificate 2 Listening: approximately 40 minutes

Certificate 2 Reading: approximately 40 minutes

Certificate 3 Listening:  approximately 50 minutes

Certificate 3 Reading: approximately 50 minutes

What are the benefits of the ALC?

ALC testing helps teachers assess their students' proficiency levels and track their progress across their school years. ALC testing also contributes to the promotion and celebration of Languages Education and gives students the opportunity to experience success by completing a Languages challenge and receive an acknowledgement in the form of a competency certificate.

VCAA Language Assessments (Victorian schools only)

Schools located in the Australian state of Victoria may choose to undertake progressive achievement language assessments that are provided by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). The VCAA language assessments focus on measuring the progression of students over time, while the Assessment of Language Competence (ALC) program focuses on certifying levels of achievement. Further information about the VCAA language assessments is available via https://www.acer.org/vcaa-language-assessments.

Who writes the tests?

The ALC tests are developed by Languages Educational Professional from Australia and overseas with many years of teaching experience. The tests undergo a strict developmental process which includes vetting, proof-reading and trialling before delivery. After delivery the tests are analysed by ACER expert psychometricians.

 

Registration

What do schools need to do to register?

If your school has participated in the ALC from 2013 onwards, please use your existing ACER online assessment and reporting account to register for ALC online. 

New schools need to create an ACER online assessment and reporting account at https://oars.acer.edu.au/. Once your account is created, an email with account details will be sent to you. Please file these details safely as you will need to use your account each year to register for ALC.

I want to change the number of students I have registered. How do I go about this?

If you wish to increase your order, please log in to your online assessment and reporting (OARS) account and proceed to purchasing. If you wish to decrease your order, please email alc@acer.org

Purchasing ALC single-use credits

Once a school is logged in to its ACER online assessment and reporting account (OARS), ALC single-use credits can be purchased for $13 each.

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you purchase only the number of ALC credits required for your students as they are NON-REFUNDABLE and CANNOT be carried over from one year to the next.

However, if a change is required after a credit has been purchased and a test assigned to a student:

  • the test can be unassigned and the credit becomes available for reassigning; and
  • this credit is now available to be assigned to another student in the same school, for any level certificate, within the test period, that is, 1 – 31 August during the year of purchase.

You can purchase additional ALC credits at any time up until the end of the testing period (31 August).

Taking the test

What are the technical requirements for implementing ALC online?

A DSL or cable internet connection (minimum 56Kbps) is required. The speed of your internet connection will determine the number of students that can sit a test at any one time. Minimum screen resolution is 1024 x 768. PC or laptop, Apple Mac and tablet devices such as iPads can be used. Tests are administered via the school’s web-based account using a web browser such as Internet Explorer – no programs need to be installed. Compatible browsers include Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer - Version 11 and above (with compatibility mode switched off). 

How does my school use ALC online?

Using ACER's online assessments is easy and flexible. To make the best use of our online services please follow these simple steps:

Log in at your school's unique web address with the username and password you created when you registered your school. The unique web address for your school is, for example, http://oars.acer.edu.au/YOUR SCHOOL NAME HERE.

Please click on the 'Help' tab and download the OARS User Guide. This guide explains how to load student lists and assign tests. ALC online will be conducted throughout the month of August.  Students’ names need to be loaded into the system before this time, and have the relevant ALC test assigned to them. Students log in with the username and password you have created for them and use the same unique web address you used to access your administrator's homepage.

Reminders and tips:

  • To use the system, you need your school’s unique web address and your administrator username and password.
  • To save time, set up a desktop short cut to the school unique test web address.
  • Refer to the user guide for help in using the system.
  • Administration instructions, video demonstrations and other important documents are available under the Help tab.
  • Students need their usernames and passwords to access the tests you have assigned them.

How will students access the Listening tasks in ALC online?

All students need headphones for the Listening component of ALC.

Can my students use a dictionary during the test?

Dictionaries may not be used.

Can I have a list of topics covered, so that I can teach these to my students?

We do not provide topic lists for the tests. These are confidential, so that all students, regardless of state or country, have equal access to the materials in the test. We refer you to the available sample sheets (on this website) for an idea of the range of difficulty levels for your students, and for examples of topics.