What is the EPE?

The English Placement Evaluation or EPE has an integrated test design that assesses test takers' language skills for successful engagement in academic courses using authentic tasks found in university classrooms.

What should I expect on the EPE?

Tasks 1 and 2: 60 minutes

  • You will read two sources that are each about 900 words
  • Source 1 will present a problem
  • Source 2 will present a solution to the problem in Source 1
  • You must identify five main idea sentences in each reading text
  • You must answer five multiple choice questions
  • Finally, you must write a summary for each reading text

Task 3: 30 minutes

  • You will listen one time to an 8-10 minute lecture

  • Source 3 will present another solution to the problem in Source 1
  • You must then answer five multiple choice questions about the listening text
  • Finally, you must write a summary of the listening text

Task 4: 30 minutes

  • In one or two paragraphs, you must write your opinion about which solution you believe is the most effective solution to the problem in Source 1
  • You must refer to ideas from all three sources to support your answer
  • If you have any extra time at the end, you may go back and check your answers for the other tasks

Task 5: 10 minutes 

  • You will hold a conversation with two trained ESL instructors.
  • The conversation will begin with personal communication topics and move on to academic topics related to your major and/or general education academic topics.
  • Your answers will not be assessed for content, but your language skills will be assessed for evidence of your listening ability, pronunciation ability, fluency, and grammar.   

If students are required to take the EPE, they must do so before registration. The computer code which blocks registration will be removed once the students have completed the test.


Who needs to take the EPE?

All international students with a TOEFL iBT score of less than 100 (or other test scores as listed on the Admissions website) are required to take the EPE prior to registering for classes for their first session. These students will be informed of the test date and time on their International Student Orientation schedule and when checking in with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for orientation.  If students are not required to participate in International Student Orientation, they will find information about the EPE in the admission packet they receive.

Some graduate departments require all students to take the exam, regardless of TOEFL score. Students are not allowed to register until this evaluation has been taken.

Can I practice for the EPE?

A practice form of the EPE is available below.  To familiarize yourself with this test, download or print the practice form and place the listening file below.

Practice EPE for students to print.

Practice EPE Listening text for Task 3

A practice test will help you most if you practice it exactly the same way that you will take the real test. Then you will know what to expect and you can practice using the same skills that you will use on the real test. Here are some suggestions to make your practice test more lifelike:

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions. Turn your phone on silent or put it in another room. Have the test printed out in front of you with some sharpened #2 pencils.
  2. Set a timer. The entire test should take two hours. You will have one hour for the two readings, thirty minutes for the listening, and thirty minutes for the argumentative essay.
  3. Listen to the listening source only one time. You will have only one time to listen in the real test. Make sure that you take good notes. You will need your notes later to help you answer the questions, write a summary, and develop your argument in your essay.
  4. Do not turn the page to look at the multiple choice questions for the listening until AFTER you finish listening. In the real test, you will have to listen first and look at the questions only afterwards. This means you need to focus on good notetaking instead of just skimming for the multiple choice answers.
  5. Make sure to use your own words in your summaries and your argumentative essay. Do not use your phone or other resources to check your grammar or vocabulary. You will only have access to your own brain during the test, so use your brain to check your grammar and vocabulary when you practice.

When should I take the EPE?

International students will be informed of the test date and time on their International Student Orientation schedule and when checking in with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for orientation or in written materials sent to them by the Office of Admissions.

When will I get the results?

All students may view their EPE results online through MyUI. Both undergraduate and graduate students will also receive their EPE results from their academic advisors. If your advisor does not have your results, ask your department. If they do not have your results, please have your department call the ESL Office. In compliance with confidentiality procedures, under no circumstances will results be given to students over the phone.

How is the EPE scored?

Your exam will be scored and rated by multiple raters. You can find the rubric for the written portion of the exam here and the rubric for the interview hereIn addition, the written portion of your exam will be scored for selection of main ideas from the readings, multiple-choice reading questions, and multiple-choice listening questions. The final score for each task will be entered into a score sheet. Multiple tasks will be used to make a decision about placement for each language skill. Scores below an average of 4/5 or tasks below 3.5/5 indicate a need for placement into a language support class for that skill.

What do my scores mean?

A description of the scoring for each section of the test and what the scores mean can be seen above. 

Depending on your scores, your results will indicate one of the following:

  • No further work in English is necessary or
  • You are required to take ESL classes.

If the EPE indicates that coursework is necessary, the courses are required for graduation. Undergraduates must complete their ESL courses in their first year of enrollment and before enrolling in Rhetoric and Interpretation of Literature. These courses may be used as elective credit for graduation. For more information on ESL credit courses, including course policies and descriptions, see ESL Credit Courses.

Is there a fee for the EPE?

Yes. The University will charge students' accounts $120 for the EPE within the first month of classes.

If I have a question about the EPE, who do I contact?

You can email ESL Programs at esl-program@uiowa.edu.