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Graduate International Students

ESL Composition Placement Test – Graduate

Incoming international students are required to demonstrate writing proficiency in academic English. Students who do not meet specific exemptions will be required to take the ESL Composition Placement Test.

Grad Process

For students admitted for Autumn 2017, the test will be taken upon arrival in August.

Taking the ESL Composition Placement Test 

The test is administered at the OSU Testing Center located at 585 Student Academic Services, 281 W. Lane Ave. Students who are required to take the test receive an email at their OSU email address with instructions for taking the test.

The exam is hosted on the OSU Carmen site (carmen.osu.edu) which requires a secure log-in using your OSU username (lastname.#) and password. You must activate your OSU account before taking the test, and have this login information ready at the time of your test. You will also need a photo ID in English (such as your BuckID) to take the test.

If you have not set up your OSU lastname.#, visit my.osu.edu to activate this account.

ESL Composition Placement Test – What to expect

The ESL Composition Placement Test assesses familiarity with university-level writing. Many university assignments involve writing for critical reading and require the use of sources. The ESL Composition Placement Test is not a language proficiency test like the TOEFL (although naturally there is a correlation between high language proficiency and ease of reading and writing). The one-hour test will begin with a short text, about one page in length, which you should read carefully. Then, you will have two writing tasks: summarize the text and write a reflection on the text. You will be evaluated on how well you address and develop a topic from an accompanying reading, on how effectively you can communicate what you have to say. Grammatical accuracy, syntactic variety, appropriate use of vocabulary, logical organization, and awareness of academic rules for use of text sources are often implicated in effective communication, so these will also be examined.

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After the ESL Composition Placement Test

Your test will be rated by at least two experienced instructors who are specifically trained on the placement test.  There are three possible scores, which correspond to placement into the following courses:

  • EDUTL 5901 – Advanced English as a Second Language
  • EDUTL 5902 – Academic Writing in English as a Second Language
  • Qualify (“Q”) – No ESL coursework is required

Test results will be posted in your Buckeyelink account, generally within one week. To view your results:

  • Go to buckeyelink.osu.edu
  • Click on “Student Center”
  • Click on “Generate Advising Report”
  • Look under “Test Results” for “ESL PLACE”

If you are placed in one of the courses, you must complete the ESL requirements within one year. If you are placed in 5901, you will have to successfully complete the course and then take 5902. You cannot take 5901 and 5902 simultaneously. Note: The test cannot be retaken; scores are final and placement will not be changed.

To register for the appropriate class, search Education: Teaching and Learning 5901 or 5902.


Students who have reported the following Test of English scores to OSU (obtained within the last two years) are exempt from the ESL Composition Placement Test.  Scores at these levels–which are higher than those required for admission –indicate that a student has already demonstrated sufficient writing proficiency.

  • TOEFL (iBT)
    • 114 or higher
    • 101 or higher and a 28 on the Writing section
  • TOEFL (computer based)
    • 280 or higher, or
    • 253 or higher and 5.0 on the TOEFL Essay
  • TOEFL (paper based)
    • 650 or higher, or
    • 610 or higher and 5.0 on the Test of Written English
    • 9.0 or higher (Overall Band Score)
    • 8.0 or higher (Overall Band Score) and 8.0 Academic Writing module
  • Citizens of the following countries or regions: Australia, Belize, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, Liberia, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland), British Caribbean and British West Indies countries, and the United States.
  • Students who graduated from an academic program at The Ohio State University. A degree from other universities in English speaking countries does not meet this exemption.

If you meet one of these exemptions, but the ESL Composition Placement Test shows in your to-do list, please contact ESL Composition Program Coordinator, Andy Seibert. Email seibert.68@osu.edu, including your Full Name, OSU ID #, Name.#, and the exemption you meet.