Last Friday I took an exam. Now, I’m waiting for the results.

The test, administered by Nichols Miller of the Office of Foreign Language in room 364 of Neuberger Hall at Portland State University was at two o’ clock, and the results will tell me whether I am proficient in the Spanish language. It will also notify me as to which degree I will obtain come June when I'm finished with this master's program.

My first question (not on the test but to myself) was: Does it matter? Am I taking the test to make sure I was a master of arts? Do I not want to be a master of science? I think I just want an MA over an MS because I have a BS (in BS?) not a BA and want to add some variance to my resume. But two bucks. Forget the fact that I had borrowed $32,166.00 for this degree. Eh, what's eight more quarters ($2).

For those unaware the language proficiency exam is held the first Friday of the month, it's two dollars, and you have two hours.

I had less time-- and barely two bucks. I had to be at work at 3 p.m. And the test didn’t actually start at 2, but at 2:15. Nicholas wrote on the board 4:15. I thought, I have to leave before three.

I check my email awaiting the results. Nicholas said he would get them to us on Tuesday morning. It's now after noon and I don't have an email from him.

In the meantime I'll give you some background. I took Spanish in high school. I had a Ms. Justiz, who said, and I can still hear her, "You haf to do it," and in college-- Don Kurtz was my favorite teacher--I took him twice. You should also be aware that my girlfriend of one year, who's last name begins with and Fer and ends with a nandez, speaks Spanish more that proficiently, she speaks it fluently. Also, I’m from New Mexico. I should speak it. But I can't. I don't, after all of this, I don't think I’m proficient, is what I'm trying to say here.

You should also know of the formula. The proficiency exam is graded based on a formula. Though it's not a math test you have to do some calculations to know if/how you'll pass (to find out if I'll pass keep reading, if you are still reading, you'll find out soon enough). Anyway, it's not that hard to figure our. Wrap your mind around this: Total answered minus incorrect, divided by three. Thirty-three to pass. You aren't penalized for those left blank. At least not like you might normally be on a scantron exam that you are used to. It's been so long since I've taken one of these!

I battle with the thought of getting an MFA. If I have the MA, that place in my mind that wants a writing degree in the arts, the one that's questioning my next step will be satisfied without the F, but with an S and not an F, a whole group of untrustworthy thoughts enter this future-plans department.

I'm sending Nicholas an email, reminding him which test I took and asking when the results will be ready. I also email the Office of Graduate Studies and tell them I can't say for sure which degree I'm applying for because I don't have the results of the language test. I don't hear from anyone. I close my laptop and walk my dog.

This morning I check my email and don't have any messages. So I'm waiting, and wondering: Do I deserve a Masters of Science? What was necessarily scientific about the program I successfully(?) completed? I mean, what about it was more scientific than artistic? Do I feel like a master of science? In publishing? A scientist in writing? I haven’t written a science paper since I was in undergrad, back when I was a bachelor.

I check my email again and have a response from Nicholas.


You completed 62 questions of which 28 were correct. Your formula score was 16.6;
unfortunately the Humanities section of Spanish requires a score of 33 so you did not
pass. You may take the test again the first Friday of May, on the 2nd at 2:00 p.m. If you have further questions please contact the FLL office.


(Pinche Espanol)