English Language Placement Exam (ELPE)


The English Language Placement Exam (ELPE) is a required writing placement exam for all incoming international undergraduate students whose first language is not English and who have not met the University of California’s Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).  It is also required of multi-lingual domestic students who took and did not pass the AWPE and whose writing showed typical patterns consistent with speaking a second language.

ELPE Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between the ELPE and the AWPE (Analytical Writing Placement Exam)?

The AWPE is a statewide writing exam which, if passed, fulfills the University of California Entry-Level Writing Requirement.  It is offered once a year to California high school seniors who intend to enter one of the University of California campuses.  It is also offered three times a year on the UC Davis campus just before the beginning of fall, winter and spring quarters.  It must be taken in person and there is a fee of $110.  The AWPE may be taken only once.   

The ELPE is a diagnostic exam, not a “pass or fail” exam.  It is a requirement for international or multi-lingual domestic students who have not yet fulfilled the Entry-Level Writing Requirement.  The purpose of the ELPE is to provide an accurate assessment of your current level of writing so you will know which writing classes you need to take in your first year to fulfill the Entry-Level Writing Requirement.  Like the AWPE, you can only take the ELPE once.  The ELPE is offered online and can be taken anywhere with a reliable internet connection.  There is no cost to take the ELPE.

Can I skip the ELPE and just take the AWPE in September?

No, if you have been notified that you need to take the ELPE, you will not be allowed to take the AWPE without first taking the ELPE and receiving a score of 90 or more. Students who receive a placement in UWP21, UWP22 or UWP23 must take the course or courses they placed into before being eligible to take the AWPE and/or enrolling in WLD 57.

Can I skip the ELPE and just enroll in UWP 22, 23, 24 or WLD57s?

No, an ELPE score is required to be placed in UWP 22, 23, 24 or WLD57s. Remember that you have a limited amount of time to satisfy the ELWR, so it's important that you take the ELPE as soon as possible to find the correct writing course.

How can I prepare for the ELPE?

A couple weeks before the exam you will receive an email from Canvas where you can access practice materials. Please remember that the ELPE is a placement exam, and not a pass-fail exam. 

I just took the ELPE and didn’t do as well as I could have. Can I take it again?

No, you can only take the ELPE once.  However, make sure you attend the first day of the writing class you placed in.  There will be a writing diagnostic given in that first class which will be compared to your ELPE paper.  If there is a noticeable difference between the two pieces of writing, you may be advised by the instructor to move to a different level class. 

I’m expecting English IB/AP exam scores that come out after the ELPE. Do I still need to take it?

If you took AP English or IB English 1A (either standard or higher level), you can wait until you receive your scores.  If you score 3 or above in AP English, 5 or above in IB English 1A higher level, or 6 or above in the standard level IB exam, this meets the UC Entry-Level Writing Requirement and you do not need to take the ELPE. 

However, if your score(s) are below the minimum required, you will need to take the ELPE. If you do not have an ELPE score, a hold will be placed on your account that will prevent you from registering for classes.

I grew up in the U.S. and have spoken English my whole life. Why do I have to take the ELPE?

Most likely, you grew up speaking another language in addition to English and common inter-language errors were identified by trained readers of your Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE). Taking the ELPE will let you know if you may need extra help in order to recognize and correct these errors and improve your English writing.

If you have received a notification that you need to take the ELPE, but have not taken the AWPE yet, contact us as soon as possible at iae@ucdavis.edu, so we can help you find the right test.

I won’t have internet access on the day of the ELPE. What do I do?

If this is unavoidable, and you let us know as early as possible, we will assess whether you are eligible for a deferral to take a later ELPE.  Please email iae@ucdavis.edu as soon as you realize the conflict.

Will my ELPE score affect my admissions status at UC Davis?

No. We only use your ELPE score to place you in the correct ESL writing Course. Once you complete the necessary ESL writing courses, you will be better prepared to succeed in university writing courses. Learn more about the ELWR for ESL students here.

Already taken the ELPE?

Find your next steps