English Placement Test for Non-Native Speakers of English (EPT) is required for all incoming students whose first language is NOT English, and do not meet any of the other exemption categories. To check whether or not you meet one of the exemption categories, please click on the Exemption tab.
The placement test takes approximately 3.5 hours and consists of four parts: writing, reading, listening, and oral communication. Writing, reading, and listening are taken in one block of time (3 hours), and oral communication is scheduled individually (20 minutes). Students who do not pass one or more sections of the test will be placed in ESL courses based on their results. Registration is required. Please click on the Registration tab to register for the EPT.
Schedule for Summer 2017
Writing, Reading, and Listening
Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Students must arrive by 8:30 AM) Location: TBA
Schedule for Fall 2017
Writing, Reading, and Listening
Date: Thursday, August 10, 2017 Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Students must arrive by 8:30 AM) Location: TBA
Date: Friday, August 11, 2017 Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Students must arrive by 8:30 AM) Location: TBA
Date: Monday, August 14, 2017 Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Students must arrive by 8:30 AM) Location: TBA
Make-up Session (for late arrivals only)
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Time: 6:00 – 9:00 PM (Students must arrive by 5:30 PM) Location: TBA
NEW international students who want to take the English Placement Test should check in with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) first and then complete online registration for EPT before coming to the test place. Non-native English speaking students who hold a U.S. citizenship do not need to check in with the ISSO. ISU ID number (the middle nine digits on the ISU card) is required for the registration. Currently, we do not assess any additional fees for registering for the test. NetID (ISU email address) must be entered so students can check their results online. If students have not had a NetID yet for online registration, they can provide this information on the test day.
• Online test registration will be available2 weeks before each test date.
• If you need to change test dates after the registration, please log into the registration site using your ISU ID number and password you set when you signed up for the test. Use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page to select a new test date.
On the test day, you need to bring:
• ISU ID card (or a photo ID – passport, driver’s license, or state ID)
• ISU NetID (i.e., ISU e-mail address) for checking test results
Parking permits are NOT available for test-taking students. Those who drive to campus to take the test are advised to find a proper parking lot in advance in which they can park for about 4 hours. A map of all parking locations on campus can be found here, by selecting the "Parking Lots" box on the left side.
After the test, students will not receive actual scores. Students will only receive notice of what classes they will be placed into. There is no set score every semester that students need to meet to place into certain classes, nor is it possible for students to learn these scores before the test.
The EPT results can be viewed from students' AccessPlus, usually two days after the test. Your results are displayed on your "Current Student Information" page on AccessPlus.
If you took the EPT before Spring 2017
Your test results also show on this page even though you have taken all required courses. Please be reminded that these are only your immediate EPT results (i.e., those you got right after the test). You do not need to take any actions about this.
• Reading (50 minutes)
This test assesses your ability to comprehend academic texts in English. You will read 6- 7 passages about a wide range of topics. Each passage contains 4 - 9 multiple choice questions to check your reading comprehension. There will be a total 35 test items in this section.
• Listening (50 minutes)
This test assesses your ability to understand spoken English in academic situations. You will listen to 5 - 6 lectures/talks about a wide range of topics and take notes. Each passage contains 4 - 9 multiple choice questions to check your listening comprehension. There will be a total 35 test items in this section.
No sample test items available for Listening
• Writing (40 minutes)
This test assesses your ability to summarize, synthesize, and evaluate information presented from different sources and to state and support your arguments with sufficient details and examples in standard English. You will read two texts about an current issue and respond to two tasks.
Task 1: Summarizing the reading texts (approximately 150 words)
Task 2: Presenting your viewpoint on the issue, using the texts and your experience to support your arguments (approximately 350 words)
No sample test items available for Writing
• Students who do not pass the test will be placed in ESL courses based on their results.
• For additional information on ESL courses, please click here.
Generally, all incoming non-native English speaking ISU students (regular and online undergraduates and graduates) are required to take the English Placement Test prior to their first semester at Iowa State University.
However, you do not need to take the EPT if you meet one or more of the following criteria. If you meet one of the criteria listed below, please take the following steps:
If you are an undergraduate student and meet any of the exemption categories, you do not need to take any further action. You are not required to take the EPT and you do not need to notify anyone.
If you are a graduate student and meet exemption categories 2, 3, or 4, you need to file an exemption form with the graduate college. If you meet any of the other exemption categories, you do not need to take any further action. You are not required to take the EPT and you do not need to notify anyone.
Please click on this link to download the latest approval form: English Requirement Approval Form. Fill in the form and submit it to the Graduate College, 1137 Pearson Hall. If you have any questions about submitting this form, please contact the Graduate College at email@example.com
List of Exemption Categories
All scores below must be an official score (not an unofficial self-report score)
SAT-EWR (Evidence-based Writing and Reading) – testing date of March 2016 or later
SAT-CR (Critical Reading) – testing date before March 2016
1.1. Students who are graduates from U.S. high schools (including Puerto Rico high schools) with an ACT-E 16 or above, and/or a SAT-EWR 450 or above, or SAT-CR 410 or above.
1.2. Official ACT-E score of 24 or higher, SAT-EWR 600 or higher, and/or a SAT-CR of 550 or higher. English placement is English 250. Student must take 250 here at ISU and receive a “C” or better in order to receive the 150 “T” credit.
1.3. Official ACT-E score of 23, SAT-EWR 590, and/or SAT-CR 540 with an American final (not action) high school rank of 75% or higher. English placement is English 250. Student must take 250 here at ISU and receive a “C” or better in order to receive the 150 “T” credit.
2. Students who have received a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. degree from an English-speaking university. As of 2016 these are the countries that ISU considers "English-speaking": the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, or Australia.
3. Students with a TOEFL score of 640 or above (paper-based TOEFL) or 105 and above (internet-based TOEFL);
4. Student with a score of 8.0 or above on the IELTS;
5. Student with a score of 72 or above on the PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic;
6. International exchange students who do not plan to take classes offered by the Department of English.
Students who meet exemption categories 3, 4, or 5 above will be automatically waived from the English Placement Test as long as they had their official record of the relevant English test reported to the university upon application. They do not need to contact the EPT for confirmation.
Note: Even a student with transfer credit for English 150 and/or 250 must take the EPT if the checklist above so indicates.
Frequently Asked Questions
• You can find information about exemptions, ENGL 150/250 transfer credits, diagnostic tests, etc.
1. What is the English Placement Test for Non-native Speakers of English?
The English Placement Test (EPT) is designed to assess non-native English-speaking students' academic listening, reading, and writing abilities.
It consists of a 40-minute writing section, a 50-minute reading section, and a 50-minute listening section. For the writing section, students will be asked to write two different essays based on two reading passages. For the reading section, students will read several long and short passages and answer questions. For the listening section, students will listen to several long and short lectures and answer questions. The results of the test are used to determine whether students need additional ESL support during their first year. Based on the EPT results, students will either be placed into one or more ESL courses or be exempted from taking any ESL courses. Information on course fees is available at http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/fees/othfee.shtml.
2. What if a student has taken the ACT or SAT?
Students with a 24 or higher on the ACT-E, 600 or higher on the SAT-ERW (evidence-based reading and writing) or 550 or higher on the SAT-CR (critical reading), are automatically placed into Engl 250.
They are also exempt from taking the EPT. Students who have an American high school rank of 75% or higher and an ACT-E of 23, SAT-EWR of 590, and/or SAT-CR of 540 are also exempt.
3. I have a transfer credit for ENGL 150 and/or 250. Do I still have to take the English Placement Test?
Yes, you do, as the test covers not only writing skills but also reading and listening comprehension skills.
If you place in ENGL 101B and/or 101C, you may be waived from them. (This exemption rule does NOT apply to students in the College of Business as of Fall 2012.) However, you will still be required to complete 99L/R if you fail to pass the reading and/or listening part of the test.
4. When is the English Placement Test administered?
The English Placement is usually given at the following times:
In the fall semester, one EPT is given during orientation week (i.e., the week before classes start).
In the spring semester, the EPT is given the week before classes start.
In the summer, the EPT is given before the second summer session starts. In both fall and spring, there is typically a make-up EPT given in the evening on the first Tuesday of the semester.
5. I did not pass the English Placement Test. Can I take the test next time again?
No, you may not.
All international students who need to take the EPT can only take the test one time. However, students can take a diagnostic test for the course(s) they did not pass on the first day of the semester.
6. What is the diagnostic test?
A diagnostic test is given only on the first day of all ESL classes to provide students with another opportunity to get waived from the English requirements imposed by Iowa State University.
In the writing courses (English 101B, C, and D), students will get a chance to write a 30-minute essay on a topic provided in class. In English 099L, students complete a listening test consisting of various listening prompts followed by questions. In English 099R, students respond to a series of questions based on a reading passage.
7. What do I need to do to take the diagnostic test?
All you need to do is go to first day of class in one of the sections offered for the course you are placed in.
You do not need to sign up for the section to take the test. However, if you fail the diagnostic test, you are required to take the course.
8. How should I prepare for the diagnostic test?
You do not need to prepare for the diagnostic test because it assesses your general English ability in reading, listening, and/or writing.
9. I missed the first day of class and so I was unable to take the diagnostic test. Do you offer make-up tests?
No, we do not.
Regardless of your reason, if you miss the first day of class, you have missed your opportunity to take the diagnostic test and to possibly get a waiver from the course. You must now pass the course in order to meet your English requirement.
10. I did not pass the English Placement Test. May I take the course(s) next semester?
Only graduate students who only placed into English 101D may take their required course during their second semester.
All other students must begin their required English classes in their first semester.
11. I need to take one or more English courses (ENGL 099L/R, or 101B/C/D), but I cannot register for the course because it is full (based on information available in AccessPlus). What should I do?
Go to a section of the class you have been placed into and speak with the instructor to ask if you can add the courses.
If so, complete the necessary add form and get the required signatures. Then bring it to the Office of Records and Registrar located in the Enrollment Services Center. If the class is full, try another section of the same course.
12. Can I see my test scores?
No. Our current policy does not permit us to release actual scores to students.
13. Can I get feedback on my essay writing?
Currently, we do not provide feedback on individual students because of time constraints and limited human resources.
The instructors in your courses will be able to provide you with feedback on the work you do for their course.
14. Do these English courses count toward graduation and my GPA?
English 99L/R will not count towards the GPA and not count towards graduation.
The course credits, however, will show up on students’ transcripts. English 101 will count towards the GPA, but not towards graduation. Please refer to the Office of the Registrar for more information or at the course descriptions around page 222 in the course catalog. Instructors of English 099 and 101 sections do not have information on whether the grade counts toward the GPA. They simply report your grade.
15. I took the EPT and am currently taking one or more ENGL 101/99 courses. However, I have received a notice that I haven't met the English requirement (or haven't yet taken the EPT). Also, I can't register for courses for the next semester. What should I do?
Send a memo to the Graduate College (Melissa Stolt, firstname.lastname@example.org), indicating that you are taking the relevant ENGL 101/99 class(es).
They will release a hold on your registration after checking with the EPT office if necessary.
16. I took the EPT, but I haven't started taking ENGL 101/99 courses yet. And I can't register for courses for the next semester. What should I do?
Send a memo to the Graduate College (Melissa Stolt, email@example.com), indicating your willingness to take those courses in the next term (or in the earliest semester when the course is available).
They will release a hold on your registration after checking with the EPT office if necessary.
17. I am an online/distance learning graduate student who needs to take the online EPT. How may I request for an online test?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, 9-digit ISU ID number, net ID (email address), and the time and date that you wish to take the test.
You will receive an email from the EPT office confirming your request to take the online EPT exam. Further instructions will be provided about taking the test and receiving your results online.
18. I have additional questions. Whom should I contact?
If you have general questions about the English Placement Test or specific questions about your placement, please e-mail email@example.com