Undergraduate English Language Placement Exam (ELPE): Frequently Asked Questions

Event Date: 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Who should take the undergraduate English Language Placement Exam (ELPE)?

This ELPE is for undergraduate international students whose first language is not English and who have not yet satisfied the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Information on ELWR can be found here: https://www.ucop.edu/elwr/.

I was informed by UCSB that I have satisfied the ELWR. Do I still need to take the ELPE?

No, if you received confirmation from UCSB records that you have satisfied ELWR, you may enroll in Writing 2 in the Writing Program.

How and when will the ELPE be administered for Fall 2023?

The English for Multilingual Students (EMS) Program will be administering an online placement process for all new international freshmen. We will offer the exam online on the UG ELPE 2023 web site. Instructions will be sent by email in May/June about logging in and how to plan for the exam.

What do I need in order to take the exam?

Since the exam is administered online, you will need access to the Internet and a computer (with microphone and camera capabilities). A printer is also recommended for printing the reading passage for note-taking purposes, but this is not required. Since this is a writing exam and not a multiple choice exam, you need a device on which you can compose texts of several paragraphs.

How much time do I have to take the exam?

Once you begin the exam, you will have three hours to complete it. You may not pause the exam or re-enter the exam at any time.

What is the structure of the ELPE?

The ELPE  consists of a video response and several writing tasks. The writing tasks are connected to a reading passage which will be provided.

Is there a fee for taking the ELPE?

No, the exam is free.

Can I take the ELPE more than once?

No, the ELPE can only be taken one time. If you feel that your placement is not appropriate, you may contact the Director of the EMS Program (EMSDirector@linguistics.ucsb.edu) to explain your reasons.

Can I take the Writing Program Placement  instead?

No, if you are an entering international freshman, you should complete this EMS Program Placement process and not the Writing Program Placement. If your writing proficiency indicates that you would be better placed into a Writing Program course than an EMS Program course, we will then refer you to the Writing Program for further consultation.

What if I already completed the Writing Program Placement?

All international students whose first language is not English should take the ELPE. If you took the Writing Program Placement, that placement will not be counted. In most cases, the Writing Program notified students about this. 

When will I receive my exam score and know my placement?

Within 14 days after you have completed the exam, you will receive an email with your placement. You will either be placed into one of four writing courses in the EMS Program, or you will be referred to the Writing Program for further placement instructions. You can enroll in your EMS course in the same way as you do your other courses.


What happens if I cannot enroll for the course in which I have been placed?

We expect that some international students may experience delays in Fall 2023 which could prevent them from taking courses on campus. For that reason, this fall quarter all of the writing courses will have an option to take the course online; in most cases scheduling will not be a problem since online classes will be asynchronous. But if you are unable to enroll for other reasons, you can enroll in your required course during the winter quarter.

You can visit our Undergrad FAQs page for more information about our courses or email us questions at EMSplacement@linguistics.ucsb.edu.