English Language Support Program

English Language Exam

The English Language Exam consists of two parts.

Part I

The first part of the exam is a 90-minute multiple-choice test of grammar, written expression, vocabulary and reading comprehension. There are two sections in the multiple-choice test; each section has a time limit. Section 1 assesses students’ ability to recognize correct written English. There are two question types in this section: sentence completion (students are asked to select the best answer to complete a sentence) and error identification (students identify grammar or expression errors in written sentences).

Sample multiple-choice question types in Section 1:

  1. Sentence completion: The outdoor event had to be canceled _____________ it began to rain.
    1. despite
    2. because
    3. although
    4. so
  2. Error identification: (a) Among the requirements for admission to the graduate program (b) is completion of a (c) bachelor’s degree, two letters of recommendation and some (d) work experience.

Section 2 of the multiple-choice test measures students’ comprehension of academic reading passages. After reading a short passage, students answer questions related to the main idea, details, inferences or the meaning of a word in the passage.

Part II

The second part of the exam is a writing test. Students have 45 minutes to write an essay on one of two given prompts. Writing prompts generally ask students to express and defend an opinion about a specific topic or to explain reasons for something and provide details to support their reasons. Essays are graded on content and organization of ideas, as well as language use (sentence structure, vocabulary and expression). Each essay is scored by two readers.

Course placement

Based on the results of the exam, a student might be required to enroll in one or two ELSP courses. In order to ensure that students carry a manageable course load in their first semester at MU, students who place into one ELSP course are advised to take three additional courses. Students who place into two ELSP courses are advised to enroll in two additional courses. Students who perform well on the exam are cleared to take a full-time load of academic courses.