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English Proficiency Testing

TGS English Proficiency Requirement 

The Graduate School has established a minimum level of spoken English proficiency that graduate students must achieve before becoming eligible for funding as a graduate or teaching assistant. To fulfill TGS’s English proficiency requirement, students must demonstrate the required level of proficiency on a recognized assessment.    

Students who satisfy any one of the criteria below fulfill TGS’s English proficiency requirement. Score thresholds have been selected to correlate across exam formatsplease contact us with any questions about interpreting test scores.

Assessment Name Passing Score
TOEFL iBT* 26 or higher on Speaking Section
IELTS* 8 or higher on Speaking Section
Versant English Test** 65 or higher
63 or 64 on two separate Versant tests
SPEAK Test 50 or higher
Teaching Demonstration Assessment Earned score of Provisional Pass or Pass


*Only valid TOEFL iBT and IELTS scores count towards fulfillment of requirement. TOEFL iBT and IELTS scores are considered valid for two years after the test date. Other standardized test scores, such as TOEFL pBT, PTE, etc. are not accepted.
 

** Only Versant/SPEAK test scores from Versant and SPEAK tests administered at Northwestern University count toward fulfillment of TGS’s English proficiency requirement.

English Proficiency Test Schedule 

Assessment Name Assessment Offerings Eligibility Requirements
Versant English Test September New and continuing students who have not yet fulfilled proficiency requirement
February New and continuing students who have not yet fulfilled proficiency requirement
SPEAK Test November Continuing students who have not yet fulfilled proficiency requirement and who are nominated by their department
May Continuing students who have not yet fulfilled proficiency requirement and who are nominated by their department
Teaching Demonstration Assessment August Continuing students who have successfully completed LING 480: The Language of Teaching & Learning

Placement Testing 

The Versant English Test is administered to entering students subject to The Graduate School’s English Proficiency Requirement as a way to identify students who may need additional language support during their graduate careers. International PhD and MFA students who have not already fulfilled The Graduate School’s English proficiency requirement are required to take the Versant English Test during the first test period after they arrive on campus.  Based on their scores, certain students will be required to participate in the Integrated Academic Skills curriculum. Students are required to re-take the Versant test approximately every 6 months until they fulfill TGS’s English Proficiency Requirement.  

For questions about testing policies and procedures, please contact Dr. Erin Leddon.