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English Language Proficiency Testing

Placement Testing

The ELP assesses students’ oral language skills.  Incoming graduate students who are non-native speakers of English with scores of 27 or below on the Speaking sub-section of the TOEFL iBT are required to take a placement test. This enables us to assign students to an appropriate ELP class.

The placement test is computerized and takes approximately 30-40 minutes.  Students listen to questions asked by a virtual avatar and respond to them orally.  It is administered in September, just before academic classes begin.

The proficiency levels on the placement test are as follows:

  • Students who test at the advanced level will be eligible to teach whenever they are appointed as AIs and will not be required to participate in ELP classes.
  • Students who test at the high-intermediate level are required to participate in the ELP oral communication classes during their first semester of study. This will include 4 hours of coursework. These students are eligible to take the POPT upon successful completion of their first term in ELP classes.
  • Students who test at the low-intermediate level are required to participate in 5 hours of coursework, plus one tutorial hour during their first two semesters at Princeton, and will only be eligible to take the POPT after successful completion of two semesters in ELP classes.

Princeton Oral Proficiency Test

Princeton Oral Proficiency Test (POPT) is given to students once they have taken at least one semester of ELP coursework.  POPT evaluates oral proficiency by focusing on the specific activities common to teaching at Princeton.  Students give brief presentations to undergraduate students and are expected to respond to questions asked by the undergraduates.  In addition to the presentation, the graduate student participates in an informal discussion with an undergraduate.  Faculty members from the graduate student’s department are invited to observe.

The Graduate School and Departmental Policies

The English Language Program follows guidelines established by the Graduate School . The Graduate School 's Policy Concerning English Language Proficiency can be found at

It is important that you contact your department to learn its policy regarding the time frame in which you are expected to pass POPT.