Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

CLEAR | Tool of Research Examination | Resources

TOR: Resources

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Tool of Research (TOR) Language Examination. If your queries are not answered after consulting the information below, please send an e-mail message to so that your questions may be properly addressed.

Do I need to take the Tool of Research Exam?

Most American University master's and doctoral programs require proficiency in reading comprehension in a foreign language. Taking the Tool of Research Language Exam administered by CLEAR is one way you can meet this requirement. The Department of World Languages and Cultures also offers review courses in French and Spanish that may satisfy your program's tool of research requirement for degree certification. 

Please meet with your graduate academic advisor early to determine the options for how to satisfy your program's language proficiency requirement.

What is the Tool of Research Language Exam?

The Tool of Research Language Examination, also called the TOR, is a required examination administered by the Department of World Languages and Cultures to evaluate and assess your ability to perform primary research in a language other than English.

What languages can be tested?

CLEAR administers exams in the following 10 languages:

Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili and Spanish.

All exams are administered in a proctored setting via a computerized platform.

What is the format of the TOR?

  • Each exam consists of three narrative texts with 5 multiple choice questions linked to each text, for a total of 15 items.

What do I need to do to take the TOR?

  • Register for a testing session during an available registration period using the GenBook button at the top of this page.
  • If you need to modify or cancel your reservation, be sure to use the link provided in your confirmation e-mail.
  • You must have an official picture ID (AU or government-issued) to sit for the exam.
  • You must arrive 10 minutes before your session.

May I use a dictionary?

You may use a printed dictionary for the TOR.

How can I prepare for the TOR?

You may utilize a number of resources available at CLEAR, books to practice reading and answering questions, as well as online tutorials (for some languages).

What dates/times are the TOR exams given?

Dates for the current semester sessions are posted at the top of this page.

Where is the Exam administered?

  • Asbury, North Wing, basement level (across from AU Central).
    Phone: 202.885.2357

How will I find out the results of my exam?

  • The computer-based exams will post results automatically upon completion.
  • Once the testing session is complete, the results will be forwarded to your department. Your department will e-mail you notification at this time.
  • You can obtain a copy of the Application for Certification of Proficiency in a Tool of Research with the results (Pass/Fail) from your department.

May I retake the exam?

  • The TOR Language Exam may be taken up to a maximum of three (3) times per student.
  • Master's candidates can only test in one language per session and are restricted to a 3-test limit overall.
  • You may not take the TOR more than twice over a 4-month period.
  • If you fail the exam after the second administration, you are strongly urged to confer with CLEAR's Director, your advisor, department or school on how to improve your language skills before attempting the examination a third and final time.

Is there any other information that I should know?

  • Any appearance of cheating will cause immediate termination of your exam.