The language usage section of the Spanish Placement Test deals primarily, though not exclusively, with questions of syntax. Grammatical content of the texts used in first and second year courses was analyzed noting the stage at which certain concepts were introduced and when such concepts were reviewed in the second year. Test questions were written to measure those concepts which appeared to be important to beginning study at each course level. Great care was taken in writing questions to avoid ambiguity or arcane constructions, and problems which might require special knowledge of regional or dialectical differences. The general criterion was to write items based on constructions of acceptable grammar and high frequency of occurrence throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
The Spanish Placement Test includes three different sections dealing with language usage. One of these sections presents 4-alternative multiple choice questions which contain a statement that is to be completed by selecting the choice that makes that sentence grammatically correct. A second section uses a cloze format to test certain concepts that are more successfully tested in context. This section tests a variety of different language usage objectives, including verb forms and uses, pronoun forms and uses, adjective, adverb, and article usage, and expressions for comparisons and negation. The third (and most recent) section presents short dialogues in which the examinee is asked to complete the dialogue by identifying the statement that follows most logically from the rest of the dialogue. Items in this section are designed to measure skills necessary for effective communication.