Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in Princeton’s English Language Program?

The English Language Program (ELP) offers classes and programs for international graduate students and postdocs at Princeton.   International graduate students who do not pass the placement test are required to enroll in ELP classes.   Students who pass the placement test, and interested postdocs, are invited to participate in ELP Continuing Support Opportunities including: Campus Conversations, English Communication Coaching and Workshops..

Who is required to take the placement test?

All students who score below a 27 on the Speaking section of the TOEFL iBT or below an 8 on the Speaking section of the IELTS and who have not received their BA/BS from a U.S. college or university must take the placement test and participate in ELP classes if required.  Students who hold a Master’s Degree from a U.S. university are still required to take the test.  To schedule your test, contact the ELP at

How do I prepare for the placement test?

Since the placement test is designed to evaluate your oral proficiency in English, the best way to prepare is to practice speaking English as much as possible.

Can I retake the placement test if I don’t pass it?

No, students can take the placement test only once.

What happens if I don’t pass the placement test?

You will be required to enroll in an ELP class during the fall semester.

If I don’t pass the placement test, how long will it take me to pass the POPT?

There is no real way to predict how long it will take a student to pass the POPT. Each student has his/her own aptitude for learning a language and some students will work harder than others. Experience has shown, however, that most students take at least two semesters of formal instruction to pass the POPT.

Can I enroll in ELP classes if I have passed the placement test or the POPT?

No. However, we offer weekly discussion groups, English Communication coaching and workshops for students who would like to continue to improve their oral communication skills.

What can I do to improve my writing skills?

Although the ELP does not offer writing classes, graduate students may contact the Writing Center for individual help. The Writing Center also offers discipline and course-specific workshops for student writers. For information, visit their website at