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English Placement for Non-Native Speakers FAQs

What is the composition requirement for undergraduate students?

All undergraduates are required to take the English composition sequence, English Composition I and II. For native speakers, this sequence is English 101 and 102. For non-native speakers, the sequence is 131 and 132 or 102/132. Based on test scores and/or English Placement Exam (EPE) scores, some students may be required to take ELI 110 and English 121 before proceeding to the composition sequence.

The class sequence is as follows, depending on the student’s test scores or EPE score:

  • A student may place directly into English 131 via TOEFL or IELTs, or the EPE. ENGL 131 -> ENGL 132
  • A student may place into English 121 via TOEFL or IELTS, or the EPE. After successful completion of 121, the student will progress to English 131. ENGL 121 -> ENGL 131 -> ENGL 132
  • A student may place into ELI 110 via TOEFL or IELTS, or the EPE. After successful completion of ELI 110, the student will register for and take the next EPE to determine the next class in the progression. Students will be instructed to register for English 121 or English 131 after the EPE is administered.   ELI 110 -> ENGL 121 -> ENGL 131 -> ENGL 132  OR ENGL 110 -> ENGL 131 -> ENGL 132   (*****DEPENDING ON RESULTS OF EPE****)

The English 102/132 class is composed of ½ ESL students and ½ native speakers. Although the class usually has modified paper length requirements for ESL students, it is nonetheless a more challenging option than English 132. It is recommended for students who made high marks in English 131 and for students who are confident in their spoken language skills.

In both 132 and 102/132, the goal is to advance the concepts learned in English 131.  The course involves intensive writing instruction focused on inquiry and research. It covers strategies for formulating and investigating research questions; locating and evaluating information; using varied sources and research methods; developing positions on intercultural and interdisciplinary from diverse texts, and presenting research using appropriate rhetorical conventions.

For more information and specific course descriptions, please visit:

What is English 121?

English 121 is Academic English for Undergraduate Students. This 3-hour course is open to undergraduate students who place into the course based on their TOEFL or IELTS scores. English 121 focuses on academic literacy (including academic reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar), and also focuses some attention on listening and oral presentation skills. This course does not meet University undergraduate requirements for freshman composition. Note to exchange students without TOEFL scores: this course is recommended if you have not had extensive experience with English academic composition.

What is English 122?

English 122 is Academic English for Graduate Students. English 122 focuses on intensive reading and writing instruction for international graduate students, focusing on a variety of critical and rhetorical approaches to academic writing in the disciplines. The class also includes strategies for improving professional oral communication. There will also be comprehensive review of the essential grammar for research writing.

What is ELI 110?

ELI 110 is Fundamentals in Academic English. This class is offered by the English Language Institute (ELI). If students are placed into this class and desire further information about course content, they should contact the ELI at and Jim Hamrick (

Course Description: Intensive instruction in the English language designed to prepare students for college-level courses taught in English. Strategies for developing proficiency in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and pronunciation and for increasing students’ understanding of both U.S. culture and academic expectations at the University of Tennessee.

How are students placed into a writing course?  

Undergraduate students are placed into writing courses based on TOEFL or IELTS scores, and subscores. If no scores are available for some reason, OR if students are unhappy with their placement, they will be required to take the English Placement Exam at the beginning of fall or spring semester, and their placement will be determined at that time.

What if I have not taken TOEFL or IELTS?

The English Placement Exam, which is given at the beginning of fall and spring semesters, will be required for undergraduate students who have no TOEFL or IELTS scores. The exam will be used to determine placements for those students.

What is the English Placement Exam?

The English Placement Exam (EPE), given at the beginning of fall and spring semesters, tests students’ reading comprehension and writing skills. All students will be required to write a brief timed essay, and answer specific questions based on an assigned reading.   Students will be notified if they are required to take this exam. The exam is optional for students who have been placed into a course (such as ELI 110 or ENGL 121), but want to challenge that placement.

When does the English Placement Exam take place?

The EPE is administered at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. Students will be notified by email of the place, date, and time of the exam. This information is also available during the orientation organized by the Center of International Education (CIE).

Can I retake the English Placement Exam?

No.  The EPE results are final.

(***ELI 110 students will be required to take the EPE after successful completion of that class. Please see the course sequence information for more on this**)

If I have already taken the English Placement Exam and have been placed into English 121or ELI 110, can I retake the exam to try to change my placement?

 No.  The EPE results are final.

Other related questions

Is there a limit on how many other classes graduate students can take when they are enrolled in ENGL 122?

A student may not enroll in more than nine additional hours of course work while enrolled in ENGL 122.

What other classes can I take to improve my English?

Other than the composition courses, students wishing for additional practice in their written or spoken English may wish to take other 200-level English classes, such as Public Writing (English 255).  Business majors may particularly benefit from Public Writing (English 255) and Business and Technical Writing (English 295). Additionally, students may wish to register for Communication Studies 210 (Public Speaking), for practice on diction and oral presentations, or other general Humanities courses.  Students who are specifically working on practicing and improving English skills, even graduate students, should NOT take upper-level English Literature courses, which are designed for English majors and will involve large amounts of reading and analytical writing.

Graduate students may wish to take one of the following two upper-level classes:  Technical Editing (English 460) or English 462 (Writing for Publication).

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