Language Proficiency Examination (LPE)

Speaking and writing the six official UN languages promotes multilingualism and enhances our diverse workplace.


The written part of the LPE consists of a series of multiple-choice questions covering listening comprehension, a composition, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar.
Subtest I : Listening Comprehension (25 points) (40 minutes)
The listening comprehension subtest consists of a series of recorded texts followed by multiple-choice questions. The texts will test comprehension of dialogues, single sentences, news items and an interview. You will hear each text twice and you may take notes. The answers to these and to all other multiple-choice questions will be marked on a separate answer sheet. The approximate length of the listening comprehension subtest is forty minutes, the exact time depending on the length of the recorded texts. A pause is provided after each question for you to select your response.
Subtest II : Composition (20 points) (50 minutes)
For the composition you will be given two topics, each related to work or personal experience. After choosing one topic, you will write at least 200 words in the examination booklet provided. Your writing will be principally judged on the basis of your control of vocabulary and syntax, the coherence of your paragraphs and your range of expression.
Subtest III : Reading Comprehension (30 points) (60 minutes)
In the reading comprehension subtest, you will be given several passages to read. Most of the passages will be one or two paragraphs long while the remaining passages will each be five paragraphs long. After each of the shorter paragraphs, you will answer one or two multiple-choice questions, and after each of the longer passages, you will answer up to seven multiple-choice questions. The suggested time for this section, sixty minutes, should be ample for you to read the texts and mark your answers.
Subtest IV : Vocabulary (10 points) (15 minutes)
The vocabulary subtest is made up of two types of questions. For the first ten questions, you will be asked to select the word which most logically and appropriately completes each sentence. In the following ten questions, you will choose the word closest in meaning to the underlined word in each sentence.
Subtest V : Grammar (15 points) (25 minutes)
In the grammar subtest, you are given thirty sets of sentences. One of the sentences in each set is incomplete. You are to select the word or words that best fit the context both from a syntactic and logical point of view.
The oral part of the proficiency examination consists of an interview up to 12 minutes long, conducted by one person. The purpose of the oral part is to obtain a sample of the candidate's linguistic competence in the language being tested. To preserve the anonymity of the candidates and to ensure that the grading of the oral part is fair and objective, the interview will be recorded and all recordings will be coded and corrected anonymously. United Nations Headquarters evaluators will then listen to the recorded interview and evaluate it on the basis of fluency, comprehension, correctness and range of expression. It is in your best interest to speak as much as possible during the interview which will give the evaluators the largest possible sample on which to base their evaluation.

For more information about  participating in the LPE, click here