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SHL Test: Frequently Asked Questions

The Avant SHL Test is an online test designed to quickly and accurately place Spanish heritage students in grade 7 through University into Spanish heritage language courses. It highlights each test taker’s strengths and weaknesses in key academic language skills that are unique to Spanish heritage students. The Avant SHL Test measures vocabulary, grammar, verb use, spelling, speaking proficiency, and writing proficiency. The Avant SHL Test requires a proctor during testing.

Educators who need to quickly, easily and accurately place students into the right language courses use The Avant SHL Test. It can also be used to establish SHL courses if you do not already offer them.

The University of Houston awards credit to students who score high enough on their Advanced Writing and Speaking responses.

The Avant SHL Test is designed for learners in grade 7 through University.

The Avant SHL Test and Spanish Avant PLACE test are designed for different test taker populations and assess different skills.

Avant SHL Test:

  • Designed for placing Spanish heritage students into heritage language courses
  • Skills measured: Vocabulary, Grammar, Verb Use, Spelling, Speaking proficiency, and Writing proficiency

Avant PLACE in Spanish:

  • Designed for placing students into Spanish world language courses
  • Skills measured: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Contextualized Grammar

The purpose of the Avant SHL Test is to identify a student’s academic ability in the Spanish language, but it is not a requirement to have heritage language classes to use this product. 

The Avant SHL Test is not a timed test. On average, it takes the following amount of time per section:

  • First Section (Lexical): 10-15 minutes
  • Second Section (Dictation, Translation, Sentence Completion, Verb Conjugation): 40-50 minutes
  • Third Section (Writing & Speaking): 45-50 minutes

Avant Assessment’s online language proficiency tests must be taken in a proctored environment with a proctor who is authorized by the organization sponsoring the test. 

See the Avant SHL Test Proctor Guide for more information.

The Avant SHL test begins with a set of demographic questions followed by a Lexical (Vocabulary) section. After the Lexical section, the test test taker will either exit the test, or with a high enough score, continue on to the Dictation, Translation, Sentence Completion, and Verb Conjugation sections.

At this point, the test taker will either exit the test or, with a high enough score, continue to the last two sections: Speaking and Writing. The Avant SHL Test design diagram is available here.

  1. Demographic questions
  2. Lexical (Vocabulary): 1st Early Exit Point
  3. Dictation, Translation, Sentence Completion, and Verb Conjugation: 2nd Early Exit Point
  4. Speaking and Writing

The exit points of the test fall after the Lexical (Vocabulary) section and after the Verb Conjugation. Students must receive a 20% accuracy or more to move onto the next section. The Avant SHL Test design diagram is available here

The writing section of the Avant SHL Test will display a clickable keypad with all Spanish specific accents.

Test takers will just need to click on the appropriate letter with the accent as they are typing.

Lexical recognition, dictation, partial translation, sentence completion, verb conjugation scores are available when the test taker completes each section.

Writing and speaking scores are typically available from 3 to 5 business days after test completion.

  1. Go to
  2. Enter the SHL Test Teacher Test Code provided by Avant Assessment
  3. Enter the SHL Test Teacher Password provided by Avant Assessment
  4. Select Location Results By Student

Please see our Avant SHL Test Reporting Guide for a complete description and examples of the available reports. Results are provided in the form of suggested course placement levels and detailed individual demographic information.

Please see our Assessment Technology Guide for overall system requirements and browser capabilities.

For pricing information or to make a purchase, please call our Sales Team at (888) 731-7887 within the United States, or +1 (541) 338-9090 from outside the United States, or email us at

For pricing information or to make a purchase, please contact an Avant Representative at or tel (888) 731-7887 within the United States, or +1 (541) 338-9090 from outside the United States

Avant has several resources that were designed to help prepare teachers, test administrators, and test takers for the testing experience that can be found in our User Guides.

Avant provides a general guide that outlines suggested course levels for students based upon their overall scores from the Avant SHL Test.  Avant realizes that each language program functions differently, and that the needs of each institution may require a more in-depth data analysis.

Consulting is available to help you establish custom placement guidelines specific to your program. Contact Avant Assessment to set up your custom placement guidelines.

The Avant SHL Test is designed to place a student into a language course and assesses different elements of language ability.

It does not have a direct correlation to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. If the test taker makes it to the Speaking and Writing sections, their responses are scored with a proficiency-based rubric, but we do not report on the ACTFL levels with this assessment.

Yes! Avant’s support specialists are available for immediate testing support for teachers and administrators and can be reached via email or phone. Students who seek help should contact their institution.


Phone: (888) 713-7887

Please check here for our current phone support hours.

Updated Feb 2023

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