IUSB Language Placement Examinations



Due to COVID-19, we have put in place a temporary, virtual option for the English as a Second Language placement exam. Please click here for more information.

Immigrant students currently residing in the South Bend area may take the IUSB Interim Placement Examination prior to admission, which will take the place of the English Placement Exam.

  • All first-year degree-seeking undergraduate students and undergraduate transfer students must take a placement exam in English, unless otherwise exempted from the requirement. Incoming students who have studied French, German, Japanese, and/or Spanish are encouraged to take the foreign language exam for placement purposes, if they intend to study one of these languages during their studies at IU South Bend. The exams will not be graded; the results are only used to place you in the courses appropriate to your skill level.

  • Native English speakers are required to take an English Placement Exam but may be excused if transferring the equivalent of ENG-W 131 with a grade of C or higher or scoring 4 or above on an Advance Placement exam (as administered by College Board). Students who have scored a combined total of 960 or greater on the critical reading and writing portions of the SAT are also exempt from the English exam. 

  • Non-native English speaking students, in addition to meeting the admissions requirement for English language proficiency, must take the Indiana University South Bend English Placement Exam for non-native speakers before enrolling for classes. Those required to take English course(s) as a result of the placement exam MUST begin them during the first semester of study and complete any remaining course(s) during subsequent semesters. No interruption in the sequence of prescribed ESL courses will be permitted; students are automatically enrolled in the prescribed ESL courses every fall and spring semester until they are done with the sequence. Students may opt, however, to take a summer English course toward completing the sequence, if the course is available.  Undergraduate students may be exempted from the Indiana University South Bend English Placement Exam for the following reasons:

    • Transferring the equivalent of ENG-W 131 with a grade of C or better from a US institution (Once the ESL sequence has commenced, requests to transfer in W131 credit will not be honored until the full ESL course sequence has been successfully completed at IU South Bend.)
    • Scoring 4 or above on an Advance Placement exam (administered by College Board)
    • Scoring 105 Internet-based
    • Scoring in or above band 7.5 on the IELTS
    • Entering as a non-degree student without IU South Bend's F or J sponsorship

  • Those who speak English natively are not expected to take an English placement exam. However, graduate students who do not speak English natively, in addition to meeting the admissions requirement for English language proficiency, must take the Indiana University South Bend English Proficiency Exam, unless otherwise exempt. Those required to take English course(s) as a result of the placement exam MUST begin them during the first semester of study and complete any remaining course(s) during subsequent semesters. No interruption in the sequence of prescribed ESL courses will be permitted; students are automatically enrolled in the prescribed ESL courses every fall and spring semester until they are done with the sequence. Students may opt, however, to take a summer English course toward completing the sequence, if the course is available. Graduate students may be exempted for the following reasons:
    • completing the equivalent of ENG-W 131 with a grade of C or better at a US institution

    • scoring 105 Internet-based; 620 Paper-based on the TOEFL

    • scoring in or above band 7.5 on the IELTS

    • receiving approval from the graduate program director

    • entering as a non-degree student without IU South Bend's F or J sponsorship

Format and Preparation

There are two placement exams, usually given on the same orientation day.  The written exam measures the students’ academic reading and writing skills.  Students write an essay in response to the ideas in a reading (a few paragraphs) from a university textbook.  Students have 75 minutes to read the paragraphs, then plan, write and proofread an essay.  The readings contain topics to which everyone can relate.  There is a choice of two readings, but students should only write one response.  Dictionaries are permitted.

The second placement exam is an oral interview.  Students will converse with a teacher for 10-15 minutes.  The teacher may ask questions or make comments during the interview.

The results are used by your the Director of ESL to place you into the appropriate course for your skill level. Courses are then completed in sequence each semester until the sequence is complete.

Undergraduate Written English
Course Sequence
Graduate Written English
Course Sequence
ENG-W031ENG-W031
ENG-W130ENG-W130
ENG-W131ENG-G013
Undergraduate Spoken English
Course Sequence
Graduate Spoken English
Course Sequence
LING-L100ESL ENG-G020

Placement test results will be available to advisors via One.IU within two days. Students should meet with their advisors to find out the results and complete registration for the remainder of the semester's coursework.

In order to better facilitate class scheduling and registration, all incoming international students who place into one or more ESL classes after taking the ESL placement exam will be automatically enrolled in their prescribed ESL class(es) by the Monday before classes begin. Returning students will be pre-registered each semester in prescribed ESL coursework according to the established sequence. Students who are placed in non-ESL composition courses must register on their own or with their advisors. Read the automatic enrollment policy. Please be advised that all students must complete the prescribed language course sequence following assessment and before registering for W131 at IU South Bend (or its equivalent at another instution). Requests to transfer in W131 credit will not be honored until the full course sequence has been completed.

Students who want to appeal their placement or adjust their schedules with regard to pre-registration for ESL course work must contact the ESL Program Director once assessment is completed. Read the appeal policy.