A study guide will be provided by OPM to each and every test taker. This page is a primer only. It is to provide you with a couple of ideas and explanations not presented in the commercially available study guide. Some of the information printed here is directly from the study guide and some is paraphrased. The same disclaimer applies to this page as the others. This information is presented by an individual not representing the U.S. Government, OPM, nor the U.S. Border Patrol. The information presented is solely for your use in determining if you desire to apply for Border Patrol. All information should be independently verified.
The Artificial Language Test (ALT), at first glance appears to be extremely intimidating. Who is this Evil Persona who developed this hellish testing device? Is it some form of torture? Actually, it is a very valuable tool for determining who does or does not have the stuff it takes to pass the rigors of learning a new language in a very short time frame. It has substantially reduced the amount of time and money spent on trainees who do not have the ability to assimilate Spanish. If you are unable to learn to speak, read and write Spanish, you cannot be a Border Patrol Agent. Thus, the hellish testing device. If you follow the tips given below, you should have no problem with the ALT. Note: You must already have a decent amount of facility in the ENGLISH language and grammar. Besides reading this study guide and becoming intimate with the one OPM will send you, the next best thing you can do to help your chances is to grab a freshman English grammar text and spend some quality time with it.
You are highly encouraged to obtain your own copy of the commercially available study guide from Learning Express. It is much more thorough and complete than the simplistic guide provided by OPM. Do not waste your money on outdated versions of other study guides. Click on the Books and Movies link at the top of this page to order the guide from Amazon.com.
Item 1. The ALT is an OPEN BOOK TEST. You do not have to memorize the noun and adjective and verb endings. DO NOT try to learn the language in the sample test booklet. It is not exactly the same as you will get on the test. DO memorize the layout of the tables below and reproduce a likeness of them on the scratch paper you will be given at the test. (This is perfectly legal and OK). Devise similar tables or notes for the other rules, such as how to indicate possessive or how to make a verb negative.
Item 2. You will have plenty of time. Do your work carefully. Check and re-check your answers.
Rule 1. Verbs use various suffixes to indicate tense. Tense merely indicates whether an action is happening right now, sometime in the past or future, or several other variations of those conditions. The most important thing to know about a verb is how to derive the stem of the verb from the infinitive. On the ALT, the stem is found by omitting the suffix -ker from the infinitive. Example: The stem of the infinitive form of the verb tirker is tir.
Rule 2. All subjects and their verbs must agree in number. Stated differently, singular subjects require singular verbs and plural subjects require plural verbs. (see second table).
Rule 3. To form the present tense singular of a verb, add the suffix -em to the stem for the singular or the suffix -im to the stem for the plural. Example:If to bark is nalker (to bark is the infinitive form), then nalem is the present tense singular (the dog barks) and nalim is the present tense plural (the dogs bark). Present singular = the infinitive nalker, less the suffix ker, plus the suffix -em. Is this a piece of cake or what?
Rule 4. To form the past tense of a verb, first add the suffix -zot to the stem, and then add the suffix -em if it is singular or -im if it is plural. Example: If to bark isnalker, then nalzotem is the past tense of the singular (the dog barked) and nalzotim is the past tense for the plural (the dogs barked).
Rule 5. To form a noun from a verb, add the suffix -lek to the stem of the verb. If longker is to write, then a writer is a longlek.
Rule 6. To form an adjective from a noun, remove the suffix -lek and replace it with -le. If pellek means beauty, then a beautiful male eagle is a pelle verlek. A beautiful female eagle is a pellenef verleknef. (Note the female suffix -nef).
Rule 7. To form an adverb from an adjective, add the suffix -ki to the masculine form of the adjective. (Note that adverbs do not change their form to agree in gender or number with the word they modify.) Example: If pelle is beautiful, then pelleki is beautifully.
Rule 8. To form the possessive of a noun or pronoun, add the suffix ae to the noun or pronoun. If a boglek is a dog, then a dog's collar is a boglekae collar. If he is yev, then his book is yevae book.
Rule 9. To make a word negative, add the PREfix fer- to the correct affirmative form. An active male eagle is a sojle verlek, than an inactive male eagle is a fersolje verlek. If the dog barks is boglek nalem, then the dog does not bark is the boglek fernalem. Hey, Folks, I used to think this was tough, but after typing all this stuff, it seems to make perfect sense.
Rule 10. Adjectives will agree with the noun in number and gender. In other words, if the adjective is modifying a singular male noun, there is no change. If it modifies a female noun or a plural noun, it must use the same ending as the noun.
Here is some advice that the Learning Express book does not adequately cover: In the LE book, you will notice that articles like "a, an and the" apply the same to all numbers and genders. On the exam, you should read the rules carefully to determine if it is the same on the test or if you have to modify the articles to agree with the noun or pronoun in gender in number. Also, prefixes and suffixes may not be the same as they are in the LE book. DO NOT memorize the book. Use it only as a method to understand how to manipulate the verbs and nouns and other parts of speech to make a useful sentence.
To form the plural of nouns, pronouns and adjectives, add the suffix oz to the correct singular form. If one male eagle is a verlek, several male eagles are verlekoz. More than one female eagles would be verleknefoz.
If a male eagle is a verlek, then
a female eagle is a verleknef. Pretty easy, huh?
To form the plural of nouns, pronouns and
adjectives, add the suffix oz to the correct singular form. If
one male eagle is a verlek, several male eagles
are verlekoz. More than one female eagles would be verleknefoz.
The verbs are just as easy if you use the tables.
To form present and past tense, singular and
This is the end of the ALT helper page. I hope it has been helpful. Do not be intimidated by the apparent toughness of this test. Get your own copy of theLearning Express book, study the rules, make your tables and take the sample test which is (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) exactly the same length and format and uses the same grammatical rules as the real thing.