English Placement Exam and ESL Program

State University of New York at Binghamton, Spring 2013

What is the placement exam like?

  • About 2 hours
  • Reading passage and fill-in correct words
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Short Essay

When will the test results be available?

The results of the English placement exam will be used to determine which of Binghamton University's English as a Second Language (ESL) courses is most appropriate for you. It's also possible your scores will indicate that your English proficiency is too advanced for any of our courses to be helpful. Course recommendations based on your test results will be available to you on-line the morning after the day you take the test. You are not able to register on-line for any ESL course until you take and receive the results of your placement test.Students who have questions about their ESL placement may see the ESL Director in LN 2412 or email at

Who should take the ESL Exam?

  • Undergraduate Students:

1. ALL conditionally admitted students must take this diagnostic examination, no exceptions.
2. Diagnostic examination also required for students who scored:

TOEFL below 106
TOEFL below 625

TOEFL below 263
IELTS below 8.0

3. International students who graduated from an American high school must take the writing portion of the exam.
4. International students graduating from an “International School” must take the writing portion of the exam.
5. International students transferring from an American University or College:

· If you have not taken 2 composition courses you need to take the writing test
· If you have not taken an oral communication course you must take the listening part of the test

  • Graduate Students:

1. All conditionally admitted students must take this diagnostic examination, no exceptions
2. All students with TOEFL below 80 must take this test.

Who should take the ESL classes?

Some of you have been admitted to Binghamton on condition that you register for an ESL course your first semester here unless the results of this test show that this requirement may be waived. If you were admitted in this way, you must register for whichever ESL course is recommended for you, if one is recommended. You must email the director to register ( or visit the office, LN 2412 the week before classes begin.If you were not admitted on a conditional basis and your department does not require you to take an ESL course, you do not have to take one. However, if an ESL course is recommended for you, it is very advisable that you register for it, whether or not it is required. The additional instruction and practice in English that the ESL courses provide will help you perform your best in your other courses throughout the time that you are enrolled in college in the U.S.A.

How do I register for ESL courses?

Undergraduate conditionally admitted students will be able to register after taking the Placement Exam the week before classes. You can visit the Director in LN 2412 or email her at Undergraduate students not conditionally admitted will be able to register themselves the Friday before classes begin. Graduate students may register themselves at any time.

Graduate students taking an ESL course:

Graduate students do not receive credit toward their degrees from ESL courses, but these courses do count toward the number of hours they need in order to be full‑time students. You may register for 1, 2, 3 or 4 hours of any ESL 700-level course, depending on how many hours you need in order to be considered a full‑time student. Your advisor can help you decide how many hours you should register for. The computer will automatically register you for one hour of a 700-level ESL course, so if you need to register for more, be sure to advise the program director and she can make the necessary adjustments.

Your grade for ESL 700-level courses will be either "S" (Satisfactory) or "U" (Unsatisfactory). Graduate students who have been conditionally admitted to the University because of a low or missing TOEFL score must receive an "S" in an ESL course and the permission of the ESL Director in order to have this conditional status removed. These requirements must be met within your first two semesters at Binghamton University.

What ESL courses are offered at Binghamton?

The following ESL courses will be offered during Spring 2013:

  • ESL 205/715: Advanced Speaking and Listening Comprehension.

The purpose of this course is to develop students’ listening comprehension and academic speaking abilities (class discussions, presentations, debates, etc.). It is designed primarily for students who have good skills in English but have never gone to college in the United States before. This is a general education 4 credit “O” course.

IMPORTANT: Because of limited time, we cannot test your speaking skills. We can only test your listening comprehension and recommend this course on the basis of your score on that. If you have a good background in grammar but your speaking skills are weak, you might want to discuss registering for this course with the ESL Director even if it is not recommended for you.

  • ESL 210/720: Advanced English as a Second Language.

This course emphasizes writing in English but also provides practice in speaking, listening, and reading. This is a 4 credit general education “C” course.

NOTE: It's possible that both ESL 205/715 and ESL 210/720 will be recommended for you. You may choose whichever of these you'd like to take depending on which skills you feel you're weakest in.

ESL 215: Speaking Skills for Bilinguals.

For non-native speakers of English who have been in the U.S. at least two years. They should be quite fluent in English and have excellent listening comprehension, but still need work in advanced speaking skills. Instruction emphasizes pronunciation and presentation skills. No Placement Exam necessary for this course.

  • ESL 720: Advanced English as a Second Language.

This is a writing course for graduates only focusing on writing in an academic style appropriate to North American Universities. Includes instruction in research writing and some grammar.

  • ESL 725: Oral Communication for Professional Purposes

Designed for teaching assistants, potential teaching assistant, doctoral candidates, and other graduate students who need to improve their oral communication skills for use in a variety of educational and professional settings. Emphasis on development of accurate pronunciation and cross-cultural communication strategies as well as such skills as presenting information effectively, facilitating discussions, and giving formal presentations. No Placement Exam necessary for this course.

  • GRD 575: Professional Language Development for International Scholars.

This course is free, non-credit bearing, and is only for international students admitted to Binghamton University who will be a teaching assistant in the Spring or following Fall. The course focuses heavily on pronunciation as well as teaching strategies for the scholar who speaks English as second language. You may register yourself for the class on BU Brain but the roster will be crosschecked with a list from the Graduate School of teaching assistant assignments.

  • English Conversation Pairs Program.

This is not a course. If you would like to participate in a volunteer program which pairs you with a native speaker of English for language and cultural exchange, then join Conversation Pairs! Applications can be found in the ESL Program office in LN 2412 the first three weeks of the semester, or you will see an announcement on BLine. Also, look for out of classroom workshops and activities throughout the semester.

  • English Conversation Circles.

This is not a course. Throughout the semester native English speaking assistants will hold conversation circles about different topics. All are welcome and more information can be found on the ESL Program facebook page and through B-line.

Good luck with your studies at Binghamton University!

Last Updated: 8/28/14