English Language Assessment

English Language Services (ELS) offers English Language Assessment testing for international student applicants to Illinois Tech. Some international applicants are required to take an English language assessment test upon arrival to campus. This determines the appropriate required Proficiency of English as a Second Language (PESL) course or courses that they will take during their studies. For test security, our English language assessments must be taken in person. Language proficiency guidelines for undergraduate and graduate students are available through the admission offices.

English Language Assessment

The English Language Assessment tests your natural language abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Assessments are computer-based tests that could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours to complete, depending on the individual student and the number of tests required. The assessment determines if you place into the courses available through our English language programs. If you place into courses, we will be able to identify which courses and/or levels of courses will most benefit you.

If you have an English Language Assessment hold, it is very important for you to arrive early and take the test as early as possible. English Language Assessments are administered the week before courses start. The English Language Assessment hold prevents graduate students from registering for any courses.

For questions related to admission, registration, and travel options, please visit our International Center's FAQs for Newly Admitted Students.

Guidelines for Fall 2020 Remote Learning

If you will be studying remotely this fall and are required to assess with us, you will complete your assessment and any required English language courses beginning with the spring 2021 semester. If we are able to begin offering assessments online prior to the start of the spring 2021 term, we will email you at your Hawk email account.

Note: New students studying remotely in the International Freshman Year (IFY) and International Graduate Year (IGY) programs available through the IIT Global Education Center will be tested remotely prior to course registration.

Requirements are different for each student; therefore, all students do not take all tests:

  • Undergraduate students assess in listening, reading, writing, and speaking
  • Graduate students are only assessed in the area or areas that you are considered lacking proficiency based on your TOEFL/IELTS/PTE/DET score at the time of admission. You will not assess in all four areas unless your scores indicate you are lacking proficiency in all areas
  • Stuart School of Business graduate students assess in listening, writing, speaking, and business writing
  • Intensive English, International Certificate, and International Year (IGY and IFY)  Program students take an integrated skills test. The integrated skills test includes listening, speaking, reading, and writing

It is important for you to complete the assessment exams immediately upon your arrival on Mies Campus. Assessments begin the week before classes start, so please plan to arrive early. You will be able to make a reservation to take the assessments when the reservation system is open. If you are unable to make a reservation, please email els@iit.edu.

Assessments are scheduled the week before courses begin. New students, you must arrive early to attend orientation week and take assessments then. See below for dates:

Fall 2020  
Recommended Arrival Date for All International Students No later than August 17
Reservation System Available July 20
Assessments—Initial Testing August 17–21

Assessments can be made by appointment for certain cases. Please contact us at els@iit.edu to see if you qualify for an individual assessment session. In most cases, we can only assess admitted Illinois Tech international students who are presently in Chicago.

All test takers are required to read the assessment instructions and test guidelines, see below, before arriving to take the test.

Fall 2020  
Assessments and Retesting (Continuing PESL Students) August 17–21
PESL Course Registration for New Students Begins (Administrative) August 24
PESL Courses Begin August 24

Continuing PESL students may email els@iit.edu to request to retake assessments in a subsequent semester. There is a $100 fee to reassess, and you must retest during the assessment period listed. PESL students may only retest once a semester. Continuing PESL students cannot retake assessments after Illinois Tech courses have begun and may not retest in a skill relative to a course they have failed.

Course placement reports for PESL students are sent 24–48 hours after all required tests have been taken.

Listening—Undergraduates, Graduates, and Business Graduates

  • The listening assessment has 22 multiple-choice questions. The test is not timed. You will listen once, and you may repeat two additional times. You may not take notes.
  • You will use a headset to listen, and there is time to adjust the volume. We recommend that you move your mouse so the computer doesn’t go to sleep.

Reading—Undergraduates and Graduates

  • The reading assessment has a total of 20 multiple-choice questions. You will read several passages and answer questions after each passage. The test is not timed. You may not take notes.
  • We advise that you wear the headset to cancel noise. We recommend that you move your mouse so the computer doesn’t go to sleep.

Writing—Undergraduates, Graduates, and Business Graduates

  • The writing assessment consists of reading some information and writing an essay. The test is timed; you will have 70 minutes to write your essay. If you would like paper and pen to plan your essay, you can raise your hand during the test. Monitor your time as we recommend only spending 10 minutes or less planning before starting to write.
  • You must type your essay on the computer. The paper is only for notes; you must not write your essay on the paper. The paper and pen are collected at the end. We advise that you wear the headset to cancel noise.

Speaking—Undergraduates, Graduates, and Business Graduates

  • The speaking assessment consists of listening to directions and verbally completing speaking tasks. The test is approximately 20 minutes, and it moves quickly. You may not take notes.
  • You will use a headset with a microphone, and there is time to adjust the volume before starting the test. We recommend that you move your mouse so the computer doesn’t go to sleep.
  • The speaking test has six parts: you will read sentences aloud, repeat sentences you hear, answer simple questions, arrange words into sentences, listen to and retell stories, and answer open-ended questions.
  • We advise that you wear the headset to cancel noise.

Business Writing—Business Graduates

  • The business writing assessment requires students to read a prompt and write. The test is timed; you will have 30 minutes to write your response. You may not take notes.
  • We advise that you wear the headset to cancel noise.

Integrated Skills (Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing)—Intensive English, International Certificate, and Pathway Program Students

  • The Integrated Skills assessment includes speaking, listening, writing, and reading sections. The test is used to place Intensive English, International Certificate, and Pathway program students. The test is approximately 60 minutes. You may not take notes.
  • You will use a headset with a microphone, and there is time to adjust the volume before starting the test. We recommend that you move your mouse so the computer doesn’t go to sleep.