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Graduate International Students

ESL Composition Placement Test – Graduate

Incoming international students (including green card holders) 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 Spring 2022, phase 2 of the online test will be available from November 29, 2021 to December 29, 2021.

Note: Students who are required to take the test will receive an invitation email from eslcomptest@osu.edu regarding the test fee ($15) payment information for the ESL Composition Placement Test.  Within three business days after the payment has been processed, the student will be added to the Carmen testing website.  If students still have questions about accessing the Carmen testing website after three business days of the payment, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu.  (Please DO NOT contact carmen@osu.edu for any ESL Composition Placement Test issues.)

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.  Once your score is determined and posted in your BuckeyeLink, the test cannot be retaken.  Scores are final and placement will not be changed.

Test results will be posted in your Buckeyelink account, generally within one to two weeks. (However, it will likely take longer because of the large volume of test takers in November and December. If you earn a score of 5901 or 5902, you will also receive an email right after your score is posted so please be patient.) 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”

There are three possible scores which correspond to placement into the following courses:

Graduate students:

  • EDUTL 5901 – Advanced English as a Second Language required. (Then EDUTL 5902)
  • EDUTL 5902 – Academic Writing in English as a Second Language required.
  • Qualify (“80Q”) – No ESL coursework is required, eligible to enroll in advanced elective courses, EDUTL 6911, 6912, & 6913, to help graduate students with those tasks.

Note:  If you see a score other than 5901, 5902 or 6000 in Carmen, then your test is still undergoing the rating process.  Moreover, the “ESL Composition Placement Test” item will still appear on your Student Center To Do List as incomplete after you have taken the test.  After you take the test and the score is posted in your Student Center, the item will eventually be automatically removed from your To Do List.

If you are placed in one of the courses, the Graduate School requires that you complete all ESL requirements within your first academic 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.

To register for the appropriate class in BuckeyeLink, select “Education: Teaching and Learning” under Subject and enter the course number.  If you would like to take a class during your first semester, register as soon as you know your test results since classes fill up quickly.

For more information about our courses, visit http://esl.ehe.osu.edu/programs/esl-composition-program/esl-comp-courses/.  If you have further questions about enrolling in courses, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu.


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, or
    • 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), or
    • 8.0 or higher (Overall Band Score) and 8.0 Academic Writing module
  • Citizens of the following countries or regions: Australia, Belize, the British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States and Wales.
  • 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.
  • Students in the following eight Fisher College of Business Graduate Programs: Full-time MBA, MBA for Working Professionals, Specialized Master in Finance, Executive MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Human Resource Management, Master of Business Operational Excellence, and Specialized Master in Business – Analytics

If you meet one of these exemptions, but the ESL Composition Placement Test shows in your to-do list, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu and include your Full Name, OSU ID #, Name.#, and the exemption you meet.

*Note: Previous attendance at and graduation from a U.S. institution other than Ohio State does not qualify as an exemption from the ESL Composition Placement Test. Without exempting TOEFL or IELTS scores, graduate students cannot be exempted from the ESL Composition Placement Test.

If you meet one of these exemptions, but receive an email that you should take the ESL Composition Placement Test, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu and include your Full Name, OSU ID #, Name.#, and the exemption you meet.