Preparing for the LPE

Written Part

The written part of the LPE consists of a series of multiple-choice questions covering listening comprehension, reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar, and a composition.

Listening Comprehension (25 points) 40 minutes
Reading Comprehension (30 points) 60 minutes
Vocabulary (10 points) 15 minutes
Grammar (15 points) 25 minutes
Composition (20 points) 50 minutes
Total 100 points 190 minutes

Subtest I : Listening Comprehension

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. Examples of these questions are available below. 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 : Reading Comprehension

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 III : Vocabulary

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 IV : Grammar

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.

Subtest V : Composition

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.

Oral Part

The oral part of the Proficiency Examination consists of an interview up to 15 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. In order 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 tape-recorded and all tapes will be coded and corrected anonymously.

United Nations Headquarters in New York will then listen to the taped interview and evaluate it on the basis of fluency, comprehension, correctness and range of expression.

As fluency and range of expression are important components of the overall evaluation, it is in your best interest to speak as much as possible during the interview. This will also give the evaluators the largest possible sample on which to base their evaluation.

LPE Practice Exams







LPE Preparation Websites

UNHQ Language Programme Websites


  • There are no preparation websites for the Arabic and Russian languages.

    To access the generic site of the Language and Communications Programme in New York, visit : LCP

New Answer Sheet

The new answer sheet is an 11x17 form consisting of two double-sided pages where the examinee's information and answers to both multiple choice and essay parts of the exam will be written.