Defense Language Aptitude Battery
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The Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) is a test used by the United States Department of Defense to test an individual's potential for learning a foreign language and thus determining who may pursue training as a military linguist. It consists of 126 multiple-choice questions and the test is scored out of a possible 176 points. The first half of the test is audio and the second half is written. As of 2009, the test is completely web-based. The test does not attempt to gauge a person's fluency in a given language, but rather to determine their ability to learn a language.
Preparation for the DLAB includes multiple study guides and practice tests. These resources give one the appropriate means in which to prepare for the test and gauge a possible outcome. Someone failing the test or getting a low score can always retake the DLAB but only after a wait of 6 months. For most service members, this is too long and will cause them to miss the deadline for submitting their scores. Adequate preparation is thus a near-necessity.
The languages are broken into tiers based on their difficulty level for a native English speaker as determined by the Defense Language Institute. The category into which a language is placed also determines length of its basic course as taught at DLI.
To qualify to pursue training in a language, one needs a minimum score of 95. The Marines will waive it to 90 for Cat I and Cat II languages and the Navy will waive it to an 85 for Cat I languages, a 90 for Cat II languages, and a 95 for Cat III languages. The Air Force does not currently offer a waiver. The Army National Guard is able to waive a score of 90 into a Cat. IV language.
The DLAB is typically administered to new and prospective recruits at the United States Military Entrance Processing Command sometime after the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is taken but before a final job category (NEC, MOS, AFSC) is determined. An individual may usually take the DLAB if they score high enough on the ASVAB for linguist training and are interested in doing so. The DLAB is also administered to ROTC cadets while they are still attending college. The DLAB is also used for the Australian Defence Force.
Furthermore, the DLAB is a required test for officers looking to either join the Foreign Area Officer program or the Olmsted Scholar Program. The required grade for these programs is a 105, but the recommended grade is at least a 130 or above.
Military personnel interested in retraining into a linguist field typically also must pass the DLAB. In few select cases, the DLAB requirement may be waived if proficiency in a foreign language is already demonstrated via the DLPT.
- Category III language: 105 or higher (Hebrew, Hindi, Persian Farsi, Dari, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Uzbek, and Urdu)
- Category IV language: 110 or higher (Modern Standard Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Levantine Arabic and Pashto)
- Defense Language Proficiency Tests
- Defense Language Institute
- Defense Language Office
- Language-learning aptitude
- "DLAB Prep: Source to DLAB Practice Tests and DLAB Study Guides". Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- Jennings, Michael. "List of DLAB Study Guides and Practice Tests". Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "DLAP Prep's What Do I need to Pass the DLAB?". Retrieved 14 August 2013.
- Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center General Catalog
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center General Catalog (PDF), 17 August 2011, retrieved 2014-02-18.