NSE Overview

Quick View: What is this National Competition?


Important Dates

Format & Length



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National Spanish Exam

NSE Cycle

NSE details

NSE Practice

NSE Registration

The National Spanish Examination (NSE) is a motivational contest to recognize student achievement and proficiency in the study of Spanish. In addition to the contest, this exam is an online, standardized assessment tool for Grades 6-12 that measures content standards (vocabulary and grammar) and performance standards (reading and listening comprehension).

At the National level, students are able to receive medal placement (gold, silver, bronze, honorable mention) based on their scores and are eligible to apply for several types of scholarships (Global Citizen Scholarship, Junior Study Abroad Program, Senior Scholarship). 

Teachers receive individual reports for each student disaggregating data in various ways so that teachers can identify strengths and weaknesses of individual students for specific standards, measurement categories, and learner outcomes; show growth from one year to the next; and/or report other variables as needed!

 Exam Format & Length

For a comparison between the National Spanish Exam (national contest) and the National Spanish Assessments (NSA is a non-contest) click here.

 The format and length of the National Spanish Exam for all levels (01-6) is as follows:

  • Achievement exam (vocabulary and grammar) is 40 minutes.
  • Proficiency exam (reading and listening) is 40 minutes.

 Click here for a more detailed chart of the Format and Length of the National Spanish Examinations. 

What does the NSE measure?

 The National Spanish Examinations are standards-based assessments which evaluate both content standards (what a student knows) and performance standards (what a student is able to do) over various levels of secondary instruction (grades 6-12).

The Achievement Section of the test assesses Content Standards through specifications for vocabulary and specifications for grammar.

The Proficiency section of the test assesses Performance Standards as defined by the National Spanish Examination Proficiency Levels. This section assesses Interpretive Communication: both Reading Comprehension and Listening Comprehension.


NSE Competition Levels & Categories

NSE Competition Levels

For assistance deciding the level in which to register your students, please take a look at our Instructional Hours and Proficiency guide.



NSE Competition Categories

In order to allow students with like-exposure to compete against one another, the NSE has defined Three Categories of exam competition. 

For examples and more details regarding each category of competition, click here.   

 1. Classroom Experience
A student whose only contact with Spanish is in the classroom.
2. Outside Experience 
A student who has had specific experiences with Spanish beyond the classroom.
3. Bilingual

A student who comes from a home where Spanish is the predominant language.

Teacher Discretion!

Certain language experiences may place a student in either the outside experience category or in the bilingual category. The teacher should advise the student as to which category is appropriate.
Native Speakers
Native Spanish-speakers should compete in the Bilingual Category only. The teacher may need to evaluate the appropriate Competition Level of the NSE for these students to maintain the integrity of the National Spanish Exam.

 For questions and special circumstances, please contact us




  1. Most teachers choose to give the Achievement exam and the Proficiency exam on two separate days during the normal class period.  The days do not have to be consecutive.

  2. If teachers have students who are sick on the day of the administration of the exam, the teacher may administer the exam to the students as long as the exam window is still open.

  3. Teachers should allow an additional five (5) minutes for students to fill out the student information section on the Achievement part of the test.