Placement Exam


When applying for admission to UTEP, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment will determine if an applicant should enroll in the ESOL program.  Typically, students whose native language is not English, and/or whose post-secondary education was not in English, are advised to enroll in ESOL courses.  Enrollment in ESOL courses is by permission of the Department of Languages and Linguistics, and prospective students need to take an English language placement test before they register in an ESOL class.

At present, the ACT Compass-ESL exam is being used for placement into the ESOL program.

Who is required to take the placement test?
* Non-English speaking students who received their secondary education (high school) in a language other than English.
* Students who attended English as a Second Language or bilingual classes in high school.
* Students who have taken the TOEFL exam but did not attain the score required to be placed directly into regular courses offered in English.
* Students taking the Prueba de Aptitud Académica (PAA) as part of the admissions requirements.

The English language placement exam is administered by the Student Assessment & Testing office.  For more information on requirements, procedures, and testing dates, please call (915)747-5009 or go to

Please take the placement exam as early as possible to secure a space in the appropriate ESOL course, and to be able to find a class that best fits your schedule.

What does the ACT Compass-ESL exam evaluate?
The ACT Compass ESL is a comprehensive computerized-adaptive testing system that helps place students into appropriate ESL courses and maximized their chances for success.  The test has 4 sections: Grammar/Usage, Listening, Reading, and Essay Writing.  All sections except the essay consist of multiple- choice items and there is no time limit to complete them.  The essay section has a 45-minute time limit. Essays are scored in terms of organization and structure, academic language use, grammar, and spelling.

How are the ACT Compass-ESL scores used?
Based on the scored obtained, students are placed into one or more ESOL courses.  The chart below outlines the placement criteria and what Compass-ESL scores are required for placement in ESOL courses.  Note that, depending on the score obtained in the Grammar section, students may or may not qualify to take the essay section.

Reading + Listening    Grammar    E-Write (essay)         PLACEMENT
90-99        8-12                         ESOL 1310 & ESOL 1311
70-89        0-7                           ESOL 1309 & ESOL 1406
120-159                  50-69         *                             ESOL 1610
Less than 120           Less than 50     *                             ESOL 1910
*Does not qualify for essay

NOTE* To be placed in ESOL 1610 or ESOL 1910, scores in both the combined Reading + Listening and the Grammar sections should be met.  To be placed in ESOL 1309/1406 or ESOL 1310/1311, scores in both the Grammar and the E-Write sections should be met.

How do I register to take the placement exam?
A space can be reserved online at http://testing.utep/edu, via phone by calling (915) 747-5009, or in person at the Students Assessment & Testing Office, located in the Academic Advising Center Bldg., room 127.  Information about test dates, procedures, fees, and required forms of identification are available at
Note* An official identification card (with photo) is required to take the exam.

Is it possible to re-take the exam?
The ACT Compass-ESL can be re-taken after one year from the previous test date (unless ESOL courses are taken during that period).  There is a fee to re-take the exam.

How is theACT Compass-ESL different from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
Students whose native language is not English may opt to take the TOEFL test and submit their TOEFL score when they apply for admission to UTEP.  If the TOEFL score is high enough for admission into regular courses offered in English, no ESOL courses need to be taken.  More information on the TOEFL test is available at or in the Educational Testing Services website