Having taken the DLAB, and worked in Defense Language Institute (DLI), I get this question a lot: What is a good DLAB Score?
A good DLAB score is 95 or above. However, a score of 110 or above is best. A 95 is the minimum score to enter DLI, and a score of 110 is the minimum score to enter a Cat IV language which is the highest language category. If you score 110 or above, that means that you can take any language offered at the school.
While those numbers might be useful, the true answer to that question is that it actually depends on your reason for taking the DLAB in the first place. For some, they just need to pass so they can attend DLI. However, for others there might be a specific language they want to take, or perhaps a language they want to avoid. An example of a language you might want to avoid is Farsi (a Category III Language). Perhaps, if you pass that language at DLI, you may have to deploy more to a location that speaks Farsi and this isn't something you want. So, scoring under a Cat III level (105 or above) will ensure you don't take that language.
Another thing that might affect the answer to that question is whether you are applying for the Olmstead Program of Foreign Area Office Program. Because both programs are extremely competitive, the higher your score, the higher your changes of getting accepted to either programs. Therefore, I recommend you score at least a 130. According to the Olmstead Program, the average DLAB score of those selected was a 130 and supposedly they select the cream of the crop.
However, if you aren’t applying for these programs or think that these scores are too high, then perhaps a statistical breakdown will help you in choosing your target score. According to a master’s level research study, it was found that in general, those with a 100 and above have a much higher probability to graduate DLI then those below a 100. On top of that, each individual category language had a significant demarcation line that greatly affected someone’s success probability. They are as follows:
- Category I & II Languages – There is no defining score that delineates a high probability of success except that the higher the score, the higher the probability of graduation. Instead, factors such as habits, educational background, etc played a larger role.
- Category III Languages – There is a much higher probability of graduation if their DLAB score was at least a 95 or above. You may be wondering how people with a 95 could get into a Cat III language even though the requirement is 105. This is because there are always waivers and its all about the needs of the military therefore if the need is great, sub 105 scores can be accepted into a higher CAT Language program.
- Category IV Languages – Those with a 120 or above have a significantly higher probability of graduation than those below a 120.
So as you can see, there are multiple measures and statistics to use in developing your personal ideal DLAB score. But remember, the higher the better regardless of your choice.