Duke University
Graduate School

English Language Placement Exams

Much of your success in graduate study in the United States will rest on your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English. The Graduate School requires that international students whose first language is not English take diagnostic placement exams in speaking and writing English upon their arrival at Duke. (This requirement is over and above the submission of a TOEFL or IELTS score.)

Please note that the purpose of these exams is not to measure your English proficiency as such. Rather, they assess whether you will benefit from targeted training in academic speaking and writing in order to succeed in your academic career here and beyond, and in which of our classes you would be best placed.

The written exam includes summarizing of reading and writing an essay; the oral exam is similar to the SPEAK test and is administered in the language lab at Duke.

The EIS exams are normally given in the week before classes begin, and you must schedule your arrival at Duke in time to take them. You will receive information about the date and time of the exams as well as how to register directly from your department, and it will also be posted here.

You will also have an opportunity to ask questions about the EIS courses and program at the Graduate School orientation in the week before classes begin.

Exam Information

Exemptions from the Exam

If your first language is not English and you are in a Graduate School MA, MS, Ph.D., or MAT program, or an M.Biostat1, MEM2, MF2, MIDP3, or MPP3 program, you are required to take the exams. If you are a non-degree student or not pursuing one of these degrees, you can be exempted from the exams. However, if you are interested in taking EIS courses, you should take the exams so that we can advise you which classes would be best for you. Of course in this case, taking the exams does not obligate you to take classes.

Your TOEFL score has no effect on the exam requirement. However, you are exempt from the exam if you are a non-degree student.

1Master of Biostatistics (School of Medicine)
2Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry (Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences)
3Master of International Development Policy and Master of Public Policy (Sanford School of Public Policy)