Frequently Asked Questions

Who can take Academic ESL classes?

  1. Any non-native English speaker who has been admitted to an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the University may take ESL courses.
  2. Special or non-degree students may also enroll in courses when space is available.

If I'm admitted to a University undergraduate degree program, will I have to take an ESL course?

Most new and transfer undergraduate students must take the ESLAT and enroll in the recommended ESL courses until they have completed English 118. English 118 fulfills the Comm A communication requirement for undergraduate students. See Course Descriptions for Academic Classes.

If I have been admitted to a graduate degree University program, and I have a good TOEFL score, do I need to take an ESL course?

If your TOEFL score is below 92 on the IBT or 580 on the paper-based TOEFL, you will have to take the ESL Assessment Test (ESLAT) when you arrive, and then enroll in the recommended ESL course your first semester. Your department may require the ESLAT and the recommended ESL course regardless of your TOEFL score. See Course Descriptions for Academic Classes.

Do I have to take a placement test?

Yes, all students are placed in ESL courses on the basis of an initial placement test, the ESLAT (UW's ESL Assessment Test). The two-part ESLAT evaluates both listening comprehension and reading/writing ability.

Based on the test results, you will be assigned to the most appropriate ESL course(s). Students with strong writing skills may be exempted from ESL courses.

After a student has taken an ESL course, instructors re-evaluate the student's English language proficiency and recommend further ESL course work as needed.

Note: Graduate students who wish to enroll in English 326, 327 or 328 may do so without taking the ESLAT. See Course Descriptions for Academic Classes to find out if one of thee classes meets your needs.

Who decides whether or not I have to take the ESLAT?

This decision is made by the Office of Admissions for undergraduate students, and by the Graduate School for graduate students.

What credits will I earn for my ESL courses?

Most ESL courses are 3-credit courses. Undergraduates receive 3 degree credits for English 118 and 3 more for any other ESL course for a maximum of 6 degree credits. Transfer students who have taken ESL at another school may be eligible to receive 3 transfer credits after completing English 118. ESL courses do not count toward the degree for graduate students.