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Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) Study Guide

Prepared by Spc. DeMarchi D 2/104th Cavalry PAARNG

Background The Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) is a test which measures your aptitude towards learning a new language. The DLAB does not measure your knowledge in any specific language, nor does it measure your determination to succeed. It is similar to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which attempts to measure the ability of high school students to be successful at college level studies. You have to successfully pass the DLAB in order to attend the Defense Language Institute (DLI). A wide range of languages are taught at DLI. Some languages are familiar such as Spanish and some are very distant such as Mandarin. The languages taught are broken down into four categories ranging from #1 those languages closest to English, to #4 the most difficult. Category I: English, French, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), and Spanish Category II: German, Romanian (DLPT III) Category III: Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian-Farsi, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese Category IV: Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean The higher your score on the DLAB the more difficult the language you are qualified to study. As of March 2006 the required DLAB scores for entry into school in each category were: Category I languages 95 points, Category II languages 100 points, Category III languages 105 points and Category IV Languages 110 points. The highest possible score on the DLAB is 176. The DLAB is not an intelligence test. It is a test to see how your mind works. There are different types of intelligence and some very smart people have had difficulty with the test.

Purpose The DLAB is an aptitude test. Unlike tests in high school or college there is no effective way to study for it. However there are some things you can do to improve your score. It is the purpose of this study guide to help you do just that. Review this guide until you are comfortable with its concepts. Go into the test well rested and confident. Remember, there are more than 100 questions on the DLAB and each question counts for more than one point. Many individuals have completed the DLAB thinking; There is no way I could have passed that test! only to find out later they were fully qualified to study a Category IV Language.

General Testing Techniques The DLAB is multiple choice test. You are asked to select the right answer from four or five answers presented to you. 1. When you take the test, be well rested and alert. It is best if you can take it in the morning after a good nights sleep, a little PT and a lite breakfast. 2. Like the SATs, your grade on the DLAB is measured by the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing. If you are not sure which answer is right, but you are can eliminate two answers as incorrect, go ahead guess! You have a 50% chance your answer will be correct. This is not cheating, it is good test taking. 3. The questions come at you quickly, do not get overly concerned with any one question. Take your best shot and keep moving on. 4. It is important to have a good base in the English language. You will need to know all parts of speech and how they work. If you are rusty on your English Grammar, get a copy of Grammar for Dummies. Having a very clear understanding of English grammar. You may wish to get your hands on a good college level grammar text book and study that for awhile before taking the test. It helps! 5. Understand how English sentences are constructed (i.e. Subject-Verb-Object). Fooling around with this construction will help you on the DLAB. 6. Be able to recognize accentuation and stress patterns in words. Know where syllable breaks are in words. 7. It is very helpful to have some experience with a foreign language. It will help you to understand that different languages use sentence structures differently than English. 8. Be prepared to interpret instructions based on pictures. For example, a picture of a red car is presented with the word "ZEEZOOM". Next, a picture of a blue car is presented with the word "KEEZOOM". (You can conclude that ZOOM means car, ZEE means red and KEE means blue.) Next, a picture of a red bus is presented with the word "ZEEBOOM". (You confirm ZEE means red and you can conclude that BOOM means bus.) You must be able to give the foreign word for a "blue bus", KEEBOOM 9. You should also know that on the audio portion of the exam there is no repetition of the questions. Once an item is given there is a brief pause for you to answer and then the next question. Be prepared for this; if you think you can think your way into an answer on any given question you will miss the beginning of the next. This effect can snowball and probably leads to some people with good chances going south due to nerves. Listen carefully and go with your gut. Be ready for the next question.

Taking the Test


The test is divided into two major segments (one audio and one visual). Audio Segment: The first part of the audio segment tests your ability to recognize stress patterns in words. The narrator on the audio tape will pronounce four words. One of the words pronounced will have a different stress pattern. Your task is to indicate (on your answer sheet) the word which is stressed differently from the rest. For example, the narrator would state "A - Navy......B - Army.......C - Burger......D Replace, stressing the second syllable in the word, "Replace"). The next part of the audio segment begins to introduce rules to a modified English language (created for the sole purpose of the test). You may be told that the rules of this language consist of things like; nouns precede adjectives, nouns and adjectives must have the same endings, subjects end with aa, verbs begin with a Y and direct objects end in an O. You would then translate a given English phrase into a phrase compatible with the modified language. For example, you may be shown the phrase "The dog Runs," followed by four choices: A-"Runsie, The dogie;" B-"The dogie runsie;" C-"Runie the dogo;" D-"The dogo runa." Of course, "A" would be the correct answer because the verb precedes the noun and both end in the same vowel sound. The test will then proceed over several sections, in each section adding a few more madeup rules, covering areas such as how to express possession, or how to express a noun acting on another noun with a verb. The audio Segment finally climaxes by combining all of the introduced rules and presenting entire sentences or long phrases for your deciphering pleasure. Jake took the DLAB and score a 138. He offers the following advice concerning the audio portion of the test: A few times when the speaker was giving the answers I would hear the right one, but by the time he finished, I had forgotten which letter it was. It helped to put a little dot inside the one I thought was right as he was speaking. It also helped to close my eyes while he was reading and listen for keywords. Visual Segment: The tape is turned off, and all of the rules you studied so hard for on the Audio Segment are no longer applicable. In the visual segment, you will be presented (in your test booklet) pictures combined with words or phrases that (hopefully) will give you -after some contemplation -- a basic understanding of this gibberish on the test page. For instance, on one page might have a picture of a parachute at the top. Underneath the parachute there might be something like "paca." Then there might be a picture of a man.

The man might be labeled "tanner." Then there might be a picture of a man parachuting which would read "tannerpaca." Then a picture of a man flying in an airplane which might read "tannerpaci." From that, one can deduct a number of rules of the gibberish language, which you would then apply to the additional pictures on that page of the test booklet. Unlike the first segment (audio), however, you will then turn the page on your test booklet to see a set of completely unrelated pictures, words and rules. This same pattern will be completed until the end of the test, at which time you may take a deep sigh of relief, then go home and punch your recruiter in the nose for telling you that the test was "easy." Exit Comments: Contrary to popular belief, you can study for the DLAB. I took the information that About.com gave me, some books from the library, and one good night of studying and I pulled off a 146. The problem is that most native English speakers don't know and don't care much about English grammar. If you have a strong understanding of English grammar, how verbs work, how objects work, how adjectives and possessives work, you'll do fine. You also need to be open to manipulating those rules. If I tell you that from now on, adjectives follow nouns, then it's not a 'blue dog' no matter how many times I say it, it's a 'dog blue.' English usually has multiple stresses. Here's an easy tip to find stress. Remember in elementary school when you were studying syllables and the teacher had you knock on a desk for every syllable? Do that! Let's do the word 'aptitude.' Say the word and knock on the desk. You should get three knocks: ap-ti-tude. Now, do it again and make the strength of your knock correspond to the strength of your voice. You'll find that the stress falls on the first syllable: AP-ti-tude. Do that on the test while the speaker speaks. If you're in a room with multiple people, don't do it on the desk just for politeness sake. Use your leg. Fred, another individual who has taken the DLAB, offers the following advice: DLAB is more than having a good understanding of the English language. It also helps if you can understand the dialic of other people. A good help is knowing letters pronounced in other languages. Even better is knowing other languages (Russian, German, Farsee, ect.)

Another point to learn before taking the test is that word order is a major factor. There will be parts of the test where they will say that there will be an ending for the noun (car(se)) and an ending for a adverb(yesterday(e)) but the noun has to come before the adverb and only in that order to be correct. The best way to come to the test is over prepared and relaxed.

Sources: http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/joiningup/a/dlab.htm http://www.personality-and-aptitude-career-tests.com/defense-language-aptitudebattery.html