English as a Second Language (ESL)

Information for students admitted with an ESL Placement Exam Condition

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 (School of Engineering).

International students who scored below their admitting department’s minimum on an English language exam (TOEFL or IELTS) and who do not meet the requirements for a waiver of these exam scores during admission, may be admitted to a graduate degree program with the condition that they take the Placement Exam and successfully complete English Language courses as required. This condition is final, and you are strongly discouraged from contacting departments to appeal your condition.

If you were admitted with an English as a Second Language (ESL) Placement Exam condition, it is required that you take a placement exam at the NYU American Language Institute (ALI) to determine the level of your proficiency prior to class registration. This is a requirement that you must fulfill in order to pursue your academic degree program, and it is a stipulation of your acceptance to the Graduate School at the School of Engineering.

Admissions Criteria

International students who obtain a TOEFL or IELTS score below their department's or advisor's minimum (for many programs, an 80 TOEFL iBT or equivalent, though other programs' minimums may be higher) may be admitted to a graduate degree program on the condition that they take the ESL Placement Exam and successfully complete ESL courses as required.

Placement and Registration

If you are a new student with an ESL Placement Exam condition, you should check in with the Graduate Admissions office and sign up for an exam appointment as early as possible during New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO). You will not be allowed to register for the School of Engineering courses until you have taken your ESL Placement Exam and been placed in an English Placement Level (EPL); once the exam is taken and the Graduate Admissions office verifies the results, the 'ESL' registration hold will be removed from your student account. The Placement Exam will be administered at ALI in Manhattan and will have a $20 USD fee that must be paid in cash at the exam location. It is paper-based and will include reading, writing, listening, and spoken conversation with an in-person instructor. It cannot be retaken. Download a sample placement test here.

The result of the exam will be an EPL from 1 to 9. EPL explanations follow:

  • Levels 1–3: This student is not ready to begin graduate study at the School of Engineering and needs to register for full-time English language study at ALI. The School of Engineering's Office of International Students and Scholars will facilitate the I-20 transfer to ALI for the student. Upon successful completion of Level 3 ESL courses, the student will be allowed to transfer back to the School of Engineering to begin his/her graduate studies while continuing part-time ESL courses.
  • Levels 4–6: This student needs to register for part-time ESL studies at ALI while beginning part-time graduate studies at the School of Engineering. The number and type of the School of Engineering courses taken will be at the discretion of the student’s the School of Engineering program advisor and the Office of Graduate Academics. For most students, this will mean taking 6 credits of graduate work at the School of Engineering each semester while attending ALI. Failure to pass Level 6 after the first semester will result in the transfer of the I-20 and enrollment to ALI during which time part-time graduate studies will continue at the School of Engineering. After successful completion of level 6, the I-20 will be transferred back to the School of Engineering for full-time graduate study.
  • Levels 7–9: This student will be given an ESL waiver and may immediately pursue full-time graduate studies at the School of Engineering.

Waivers

ESL course waivers will be granted by the Graduate Admissions office only to students who take the ALI Placement Exam and are placed at Levels 7, 8, or 9 for both reading/writing and listening/speaking (see “Level 7–9” above). For students who place at such a level, a “place-out” letter can be generated for the student upon request.

Study at a previous English Language Center/School may not be applied toward a waiver, and retaking an English language exam after admission 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 may demonstrate their improved ability by taking the Placement Exam and placing above Level 6.

Requirements for Successful Completion of an ESL Condition

Students who placed below Level 7 on the ESL Placement Exam and were required to take ESL courses at ALI may complete that requirement only by passing the ALI Level 6 course and placing in EPL 7. Upon passing the Level 6 course, the student’s requirement will be fulfilled, and a completion letter can be generated for the student upon request.

No other actions or waivers will complete this requirement for students who placed below Level 7 on the ESL Placement Exam.