In order to allow students with like-exposure to compete against one another, NSE has defined three categories of exam competition as follows:
A student whose only contact with Spanish is in the classroom.
A student who has had specific experiences with Spanish beyond the classroom.
- The student has participated in a FLES program.
- (For the purpose of the NSE Contest, FLES is defined as having had 30 minutes or more of Spanish instruction per week for three years or more during Grades K-6.)
- The student is a heritage speaker who has had exposure to Spanish but limited practice in his/her home environment.
- The student has been enrolled in a Spanish immersion program for the prior 3 years or more.
- The student's principal language is (1) another romance language (French, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian) or (2) a language derived from a romance language (Catalan, Galician, Sicilian, etc.)
A student who comes from a home where Spanish is the predominant language.
- The student has grown up in a home where Spanish is spoken.
- The student is bilingual to some degree in both Spanish and English.
The following language experiences may place a student in either the outside experience category or in the bilingual category. The teacher should advise the student as to which category is appropriate.
- A student has lived (after age 6) in a Spanish speaking country for more than a year.
- A student has studied in a Spanish speaking country for more than 4 months.
- A student whose principal language at home is Spanish or Spanish/English.
- A student whose principal language outside the home is Spanish or Spanish/English.
NOTE: The National Spanish Examinations are used to measure proficiency and achievement of English-speaking students who are studying Spanish as a second language. Native Spanish speakers (i.e. foreign exchange students and students who were born in and who have studied the Spanish language formally in their native Spanish speaking country and later moved to the United States) are ineligible to sit for the National Spanish Examinations.