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The Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) is a test used by the United States Department of Defense to test an individual's potential for learning a foreign language. It is used to determine who may pursue training as a military linguist. It consists of 126 multiple-choice questions and the test is scored out of a possible 176 points.[1] The first half of the test is audio and the second half is written. As of 2009, the test is completely web-based. The test does not attempt to gauge a person's fluency in a given language, but rather to determine their ability to learn a language. To help prepare you for the DLAB, there are multiple study guides and practice tests out there.[2] Through these resources you should have the appropriate means in which to prepare for the test and gauge your possible outcome. If you do not pass the test or you received a low score, you can always retake the DLAB but will have to wait another 6 months before doing so. For most service members, this will be too long and they will miss their deadline for submitting their scores. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that you prepare adequately the first time. The languages are broken into tiers, based on their difficulty level for a native English speaker as determined by the Defense Language Institute. The category into which a language is placed also determines length of its basic course as taught at DLI. To qualify to pursue training in a language, one needs a minimum score of 95. The Marines will waive it to 90 for Cat I and Cat II languages and the Navy will waive it to an 85 for Cat I languages, a 90 for Cat II languages, and a 95 for Cat III languages. The Air Force does not currently offer a waiver. The Army National Guard is able to waive a score of 90 into a Cat. IV language. The DLAB is typically administered to new and prospective recruits at the United States Military Entrance Processing Command sometime after the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is taken but before a final job category (NEC, MOS, AFSC) is determined. An individual may usually take the DLAB if they score high enough on the ASVAB for linguist training and are interested in doing so. The DLAB is also administered to ROTC cadets while they are still attending college. The DLAB is also used for the Australian Defence Force.

Furthermore, the DLAB is a required test for officers looking to either join the Foreign Area Officer program or the Olmstead Program. The required grade for these programs is a 105 however the recommended grade is at least a 120 or above.[3] Military personnel interested in retraining into a linguist field typically also must pass the DLAB. In few select cases, the DLAB requirement may be waived if proficiency in a foreign language is already demonstrated via the DLPT.

Language Categories

  • Category I language: 95 or better[4] (French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish)
  • Category II language: 100 or better (German, Indonesian)
  • Category III language: 105 or better (Dari, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, and Uzbek)
  • Category IV language: 110 or better (Modern Standard Arabic, Pashto, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)

See also



"Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Catalog, Ch. 2: Academic Information". 26 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-09. .

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