About the English Language Placement Exam

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the English Language Placement Exam (ELPE)?

The 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.  The ELPE was designed by UC Davis writing instructors to provide a more accurate assessment of a student’s level of English writing skill in order to ensure they take the most appropriate writing classes towards fulfilling the ELWR.  It is a required placement exam which will allow you to register for the writing classes you need.  If you do not have an ELPE score, a hold will be placed on your account which will prevent you from registering for classes. The ELPE is offered online and can be taken anywhere with a reliable internet connection.  There is no cost to take the ELPE.

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 taking 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.

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 this, you will need to contact us at iae@ucdavis.edu to arrange to take a later ELPE.  If you do not have an ELPE score, a hold will be placed on your account which 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.

My high school graduation is the same time as the ELPE. Do I have to miss my graduation?

No, your high school graduation is important.  We will make alternative arrangements for students who have important and legitimate conflicts such as this.  You must let us know as early as possible, however, so we can note this on your file.  Please email iae@ucdavis.edu as soon as you realize the conflict.

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

Again, 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.