The information provided in this FAQ is for informational purpose only. Please refer to the Graduate College Handbook or Catalog for Colleges and Curricula for the exact ISU rules regarding non-native speakers of English.
Q1. What is the English Placement Test for Non-native Speakers of English?
The English Placement Test (EPT) is a test designed to assess non-native English-speaking students English proficiency in terms of their listening, reading, and writing abilities. It consists of a 30-minute writing assessment (chiefly responding to an essay prompt), a reading assessment (responding to questions based on several passages), and a listening assessment (listening to short lectures and responding to questions). The results of the test are used to determine whether non-native English speaking ISU students have met the English requirement (i.e., no further English as a Second Language instruction is required) or whether students need to take additional ESL classes. Thus the EPT results are used to place ISU students into the respective courses, as needed. Information on course fees is available at http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/fees/othfee.shtml.
Q2. Who must take the English Placement Test?
Generally, all non-native English speaking ISU students are required to take the English Placement Test prior to their first semester at Iowa State University. International exchange students whose native language is not English are required to take the EPT at ISU before enrolling in any courses offered by the English Department.
Graduate students who meet the second category of exemptions above (among those whose first language is not English) will need to submit a form of English Requirement Approval to the Graduate College (1137 Pearson Hall). Students meeting one of the other categories need not take any action in regard to the exemption.
Students who meet the third or fourth category of exemptions 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 coordinator for confirmation.
Academic advisors may properly determine whether or not their advisees must take the English Placement Test (for non-native speakers of English) using the checklist (updated on Feburary 27, 2015).
Q3. What if a student has taken the ACT or SAT?
Students with a 24 or higher on the ACT-E, or 550 or higher on the SAT-V, 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 or SAT-V of 540 are also exempt. All other students must take the English Placement Test.
Q4. 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.
Q5. When is the English Placement Test administered?
The English Placement is usually given at the following times:
Q6. I received a copy of my English Placement Test record sheet. There is a check or "X" mark next to a course name (for example, 101B/C/D or 99L/R) on the test result sheet. What does it mean?
It means you did not pass the English Placement Test, and that you need to take the course(s) marked on the results sheet. You need to take your English classes in your first semester at Iowa State University. Graduate students required to take English 101D may wait until their second semester. Graduate students also need to refer to the policies outlined in the Graduate College Handbook. Accordingly, graduate students who do not begin the English classes as required based on the English Placement Test within their first year will be unable to register for classes after that time.
Q7. I did not pass the English Placement Test. Can I take the test next time again?
No, you cannot. 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.
Q8. 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 posed by Iowa State University, considering that many international students take the test within a couple of days of their arrival. 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.
Q9. 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.
Q10. How should I prepare for the diagnostic test?
You do not need to prepare for the diagnostic test because it is to assess your general English ability in reading, listening, and/or writing.
Q11. 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 English classes in their first semester.
Q12. 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.
Q13. Can I check my EPT test results online?
If you created your NetID at least a day before coming to take the placement test and reported it during the test registration process, we will be able to post your test results on the Gradebook on the WebCT EPT course. However, we cannot post your test results if you created your NetID on the test date or if your NetID has not been updated on the university system yet.
Q14. Can I see my test scores?
No. Our current policy does not permit us to release actual scores to students.
Q15. 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.
Q16. 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 101C 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.
Q17. 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 (Linda Thorson, email@example.com), 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.
Q18. 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 (Linda Thorson, firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
Q19. I have additional questions. Who 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 or call Zhi Li at 294-6398. If you have other questions, please contact Prof. Volker Hegelheimer at 294-2282.