Undergraduate FAQs

Questions about taking the CWP and ELPE

What is the difference between the ELPE and the CWP? Which exam must I take?

Both the CWP and the ELPE are writing placement exams administered to undergraduate students. Normally, international students do not take the CWP. If you are an international student entering UCSB as a freshman, you should take the ELPE unless otherwise notified.

I was supposed to take the ELPE but I missed the date of the exam. What should I do?

Contact the EMS Placement Committee to find out if you are eligible to take a makeup exam. The e-mail address is EMSplacement@linguistics.ucsb.edu.

Questions about your ELPE/AWPE result

I recently took the ELPE. How can I find out my score?

If you took the ELPE online in June 2023, your results will be emailed to you within 14 days after the test. If you took the ELPE during winter or spring, the EMS Placement committee will contact you regarding your result.

I received an EMS/Ling placement, but I think my writing placement should be higher. Can I re-take the ELPE?

Students cannot re-take either the ELPE. However, we do want to make sure the results of your placement test are accurate. For that reason, you will be given the opportunity to write a brief essay on the first day of your writing class. The placement process is very accurate, and it is rare for a student’s placement to be changed.  But if your instructor sees that the writing of your first-day writing sample significantly differs from your ELPE placement, s/he will recommend that your placement be reviewed by the EMS Program Director.

Note: it is very important to attend the first class meeting. If you miss the first day of class, you may miss this opportunity to have your placement confirmed.

I am a native English speaker. Why did I receive an EMS/Ling placement?

If English is the only language that you have used at home and at school, then you should consult with the Director of the EMS Program.

I was educated in the US and am not an international student. Why did I receive an EMS/Ling placement?

EMS/Ling courses are academic English courses meant for students who speak a language other than English as their primary home language. This includes some US-educated students as well as international students. If you attended a US high school, for example, you may have been told that you are ready for mainstream courses and you no longer need specialized instruction for nonnative English speakers; however, UCSB holds its students to a very high standard, and has found that many multilingual writers who are US-educated continue to need specialized instruction in academic reading and writing. Your oral English level may be different from your reading or writing level, and because a student’s success at UCSB depends on competent reading and writing skills at the university level, the EMS ELPE placement exam is based on a written response to a reading.

Questions about which courses to take

How many EMS/Ling courses do I need to take?

The answer depends on your course placement. Based on the result of your ELPE, you may be placed in EMS/Ling 3A, 3B, 3C, or 12. Wherever in this course sequence you are placed, you will also take all the higher-numbered courses in the sequence. For example, if you are placed in EMS/Ling 12, then that is the only EMS/Ling course that you will take; if you are placed in Ling 3A, then you will take 3A, 3B, 3C, and 12.

What if I haven't taken the ELPE yet?

First, see the EMS home page for news about the date, time, and location of the next exam. If the date of the exam has passed, contact the EMS ELPE Committee to find out if you are eligible to take a makeup exam.

After I finish Linguistics 3C, do I also need to take Linguistics 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. before I can take Linguistics 12?

No, the courses in the undergraduate sequence are Ling 3A, 3B, 3C, and 12. Courses numbered 4-9 are graduate level courses.

An advisor told me that I have to take Writing 1. Is that right?

If the EMS Program has notified you that your placement is Linguistics 3A, 3B, 3C, or 12, then you should take the Linguistics course into which you have been placed. Students who are enrolled in the EMS Program do not have to complete the Entry Level Writing Requirement during their first year as long as they continue to make progress on their sequence of required writing courses.

What's the difference between Writing 1 and Ling 12?

These two courses have some similarities and some differences. Like Writing 1, EMS/Linguistics 12 satisfies the UC’s Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Both courses qualify you to take Writing 2. However, they are different. Ling 12 provides specialized instruction for multilingual students, whereas Writing 1 is designed for students who were born in the U.S. and have spoken English at home and at school.

I have an EMS/Ling course placement, but I have already enrolled in Writing 1. Do I have to drop it?

Yes. If you have an EMS course placement, you need to enroll in the EMS course instead of Writing 1.

May I take a course in the Writing Program in the same quarter as I am taking an EMS writing course?

No. The courses that you are required to take to satisfy the UC’s Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) must be taken in sequence—that is, one at a time, and in order.

May I take an EMS/Ling course even if my writing placement is for Writing 1 or Writing 2?

Possibly. However, you should consult with the Director of the EMS Program, first. We’d like to help make sure you take the course that is best suited to your needs and goals.

Questions about enrolling in a course

All the sections of the class I need to take are filled. May I wait until next quarter? May I take a higher or lower class instead?

If all the sections are full, your first step should be to try to get on the class’s waiting list. Please consult the EMS Wait List Policy.

In some cases you may have to wait until next quarter to take your required class. However, you should contact the EMS ELPE Committee if this is your plan. Please note that not every class is offered every quarter; in some cases, if you do not enroll in your required class, you may have to wait two quarters or longer.

Students may not enroll in courses that are a higher level than the one into which they have been placed. It is sometimes possible to enroll in a lower level class, but you should first speak with the Director of the EMS Program, before you sign up for a class whose level is lower than your placement.

I have a course conflict with the EMS/Ling course I am supposed to take. What should I do?

As noted above, not every class is offered every quarter; in some cases, if you do not enroll in your required EMS/Ling class, you may have to wait two quarters or longer to take it. For that reason, students are usually advised to enroll in their EMS/Ling course rather than a class that meets at the same time. If you have any questions about course conflicts, you can discuss them with the EMS ELPE Committee.

I am traveling abroad and will not be able to attend the first class meeting. What should I do?

You should e-mail your instructor immediately. Missing the first class meeting could have several consequences. First, students who miss the first day of class may be dropped so that space can be given away to those on the waiting list. If you contact your instructor, this is less likely. Also, EMS courses have a mandatory attendance policy, and this kind of absence may affect your grade. Finally, as noted above, you may miss the chance to give a writing sample to have your placement confirmed. We understand that these travel situations are sometimes unavoidable, but we do ask that you make every effort to attend all classes.

For non-degree-bound and transfer students

I am an EAP student. Am I also required to take EMS courses?

No. Students in the EAP reciprocity program are not required to take EMS courses. However, those who are interested in doing so must take UCSB’s English Language Placement Exam (ELPE) and receive a course placement. Currently, EAP students should not take the regular fall administration of the ELPE, but may take a special late administration of the ELPE. You should check the EMS Program home page for news about the date, time, and place of this exam.

Please note that space in EMS courses is limited, and degree-bound students must be given priority. For that reason, we cannot guarantee that there will be space available for EAP students.

I am studying through the University Immersion Program (UIP) through UCSB Extension. May I enroll in EMS courses?

UIP students may enroll at the instructor’s discretion if there is space in the class. Contact the instructor of the course you wish to take. As explained in the previous section, you must take the ELPE and take the course that is appropriate to your level. Degree-bound students take priority; we cannot guarantee space in our courses.

I am a transfer student. May I enroll in an EMS course?

Transfer students who have satisfied the requirements for the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) are exempt from EMS/Ling course requirements. However, if you wish to enroll in an EMS/Ling course, you should first consult with the instructor of the course you wish to take. You should also be aware the EMS/Ling courses do not offer credit toward degree for students who have already satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).

I am not a UCSB student. May I enroll in your courses or audit one of your courses?

In general, undergraduate EMS courses are only available to UCSB students.  Therefore, visiting scholars and others not enrolled at the university are not allowed to audit or take undergraduate EMS courses. Please see our FAQs for graduate courses for more information.

Problems seeing your grade

I’ve passed Linguistics 3A, but the course doesn’t show up on my GOLD account. Is that a problem?

EMS/Linguistics 3A is graded Pass/No Pass. Such courses are recorded differently by the registrar and show up differently on GOLD. However, the EMS Program faculty will know which students have passed EMS/Ling 3A. So if you passed the course, you’ll be eligible to take Ling 3B.