English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL) Placement Exam Information

What is an ESL Placement Exam Condition?

English proficiency is a requirement for admission to all graduate programs and is necessary for success at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

If you were admitted with an English as a Second Language (ESL) Placement Exam condition, you are required to take a placement exam administered by the NYU American Language Institute (ALI) to determine the level of your English language proficiency. This is required in order to pursue your academic degree program. We encourage you to complete the required placement exam before accepting our offer of admission and paying your graduate tuition deposit. If you do not complete the required placement exam, your I-20 / Certificate of Eligibility may not be issued, and you will not be allowed to enroll in courses at the Polytechnic School of Engineering.

The ALI ESL Placement Exam consists of an online writing test and an online interview. Information about both is e-mailed to students after they are admitted with an ESL Placement Exam condition. If you were admitted with such a condition and have not received information about registering for the online writing test and interview, please contact Graduate Enrollment Management & Admissions.

Placement Levels

The result of the exam will be an English Placement Level (EPL) from 1 to 9. EPL explanations follow:

Levels 7 – 9

Students who place into Levels 7 - 9 are ready to begin full-time graduate study immediately and will not be required to take ESL courses at ALI while taking graduate courses at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

Levels 5 – 6

Students who place into Levels 5 or 6 are not ready to begin full-time graduate study and must take ESL courses part-time at ALI while taking graduate courses part-time at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. They will be required to register for an ESL course and for graduate courses totaling exactly six (6) credits.

Students who place into Levels 5 or 6 will be required to take appropriate ESL course(s) until they pass the Level 6 ESL course. Skipping ESL courses will not be permitted, and taking more than one ESL course per semester will not be permitted. This may lengthen their expected course of study by one or more semesters and/or impact curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT), depending on their progress in their English courses.

Students who place into Level 5 should apply for their I-20 / Certificate of Eligibility from ALI, which will allow them to obtain a student visa. Students who place into Level 6 should apply for their I-20 / Certificate of Eligibility from NYU’s Office of Global Services (OGS) in the way most other School of Engineering students will apply.

Levels 1 – 4

Students who place into Levels 1-4 are not ready to begin graduate study at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and must take (and pass) full-time ESL studies before beginning part-time graduate studies (and, eventually, full-time graduate studies) at NYU Engineering. Once they pass the Level 4 ESL course, they will be permitted to begin taking part-time graduate studies while taking subsequent ESL courses until they pass the Level 6 courses (see Levels 5 – 6, above). Once they have passed their Level 6 course, they will be permitted to begin full-time graduate studies.

Skipping ESL courses will not be permitted, and taking more than one ESL course per semester will not be permitted. This will likely lengthen their expected course of study by one or more semesters and/or impact curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT), depending on their progress in their English courses.

Students who place into Levels 1-4 should contact ALI at 1-212-998-7040 or ali@nyu.edu to register for their full-time ESL courses and to apply for their I-20 / Certificate of Eligibility from ALI, which will allow them to obtain a student visa.

Important Notes

  • ALI instructors and administrators have sole authority to conduct placement testing and determine EPL. Decisions made by ALI cannot be appealed to School of Engineering faculty or administrators. Questions about the Placement Exam or your placement should be directed to ALI at ALI.test-group@nyu.edu or 1-212-998-7040.
  • ESL coursework does not count as quality points toward graduation and therefore is not included in students’ Cumulative Grade Point Average.
  • Previous study at an English Language Center or School (other than ALI) will not affect placement or allow an ESL Placement Exam condition to be waived.
  • Retaking an English language exam (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) after admission with an ESL Placement Exam condition will not be cause for a waiver. Students who were given an ESL Placement Exam condition and who have subsequently improved their English language skills prior to beginning studies at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering may demonstrate their improved ability by taking the Placement Exam at ALI.
  • Students who placed below Level 7 on the ESL Placement Exam and were required to take ESL courses at ALI may complete this requirement only by successfully completing all required courses up to and including ESL Level 6. No other actions or waivers will complete this requirement. Skipping ESL courses will not be permitted, and taking more than one ESL course per semester will not be permitted.
  • Required ESL courses (if any) may lengthen students’ expected course of study by one or more semesters and/or impact curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT), depending on their progress in their English courses.