Graduate Writing Exam: Non-Native English Speakers/ESL Students

Before the start of each semester, the English Evaluation Test (EET) is given to assess the academic listening, speaking, writing and reading skills of new MIT graduate students whose first academic language is not English.  The EET is usually a real-time, face-to-face diagnostic consisting of four parts and taking place on MIT’s campus the week before Registration Day.

New Procedures

Because of disruptions caused by COVID-19, the EET will be administered differently for Fall 2020.

The assessment will take place remotely via two mechanisms:

  1. The on-line Graduate Writing Exam (GWE) will take the place of the reading and writing components of the regular EET.

The GWE occurs in June (details provided below), with an on-line make-up exam in August.

Registration Opens: Monday, May 25, 1pm EDT **please note, the Essay Evaluation Portal will NOT be open prior to the opening of Registration. It will be linked in various places on our GWE website https://cmsw.mit.edu/graduate-writing-exam/

Registration Closes: Monday, June 15, 1pm EDT

Exam Begins: Wednesday, June 17, 1pm EDT

Exam Ends/Submissions Due: Wednesday, June 24, 1pm EDT

We are working closely with the Office of Graduate Education and members of the Writing Program to manage the communications and logistics.  MIT’s WRaP staff and the English Language Studies (ELS) group will email the appropriate students to explain the exam and provide the logistics for registration and completion.

  1. Individual Zoom interviews with members of the ELS group will take the place of the regular listening and speaking components of the EET. We will soon have a scheduling program in place for students to sign up for appointments over the summer.

For detailed information about the Fall 2020 EET, see https://mitgsl.mit.edu/english-evaluation-test-eet

 

Fall 2020 EET results and recommendations

Members of the ELS group will assess the students’ academic communication skills and report them.  Individual EET results and any recommendations for coursework will be emailed to the students and to graduate program administrators before Registration Day.  The results will be reported in the same format as in the past.

 

English Evaluation Test – Frequently Asked Questions for Fall 2020

What is the EET?

The EET is a diagnostic test of academic English given before each semester at the request of the Office of Graduate Education.  The English Language Studies Program (ELS) administers the EET, which is designed for entering international graduate students from non-English language academic backgrounds.  The exam identifies weaknesses in academic speaking and writing English that may interfere with course work, teaching and research at MIT.

The diagnostic is composed of two parts:

Part 1: Reading and writing task conducted online

Part 2: Short interview conducted via Zoom

When is the EET offered?

Part 1 is offered in June, 2020. Part 2 is offered by scheduled appointments throughout the summer via Zoom.

Who takes the EET?

The Institute requires all entering international graduate students to take the EET if their primary language of instruction was not English from the age of six through high school.

A student does not need to take the EET if s/he has attended all schooling from the age of six in English.  Many students from India, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries, as well as African and Caribbean countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and St. Lucia fall into this category.

International students who would normally be required to take the EET but have already done undergraduate or Master’s degrees at MIT or at other comparable universities can discuss with their departmental advisors the possibility of waiving the EET requirement.

Why do new international graduate students take the EET?

According to MIT policy, newly admitted international graduate students should take the English Evaluation Test (EET) as a means of determining the current level of their academic English skills.  Standardized English tests like TOEFL are not considered a reliable measure of communicative competence.

From the moment they enter the Institute, graduate students are expected to be productive members of a lively research community.  They are involved in some or all of the following activities:  participating in interactive seminars; completing coursework that requires presentations and research reports; teaching recitation or lab sections; interacting with representatives of industry; presenting research to peers, sponsors, and experts at meetings and conferences; as well as writing proposals, reports and journal papers.  Few international students have experience with these types of communication tasks in English.  Many have little experience even in their first languages.  The EET provides new students and their advisors with information to help them prepare for success in their graduate activities at MIT.

Who enforces the EET?

Individual departments determine their policies regarding the EET.  Members of the English Language Program are not responsible for regulations concerning who takes the exam, whether students act on any recommended course work, or what happens if an international student is unable to take the EET before the start of the semester.

What happens if a student has a scheduling conflict with the Graduation Writing Exam component of the EET in June?

If students cannot take the GWE in June, there is an online make-up in August.

Do I need to register in advance in order to take the EET?

Yes. The on-line Graduate Writing Exam (GWE) will take the place of the reading and writing components of the regular EET this year.

The GWE occurs in June (details provided below), with an on-line make-up exam in August.

Registration Opens: Monday, May 25, 1pm EDT **please note, the Essay Evaluation Portal will NOT be open prior to the opening of Registration. It will be linked in various places on our GWE website https://cmsw.mit.edu/graduate-writing-exam/

Registration Closes: Monday, June 15, 1pm EDT

Exam Begins: Wednesday, June 17, 1pm EDT

Exam Ends/Submissions Due: Wednesday, June 24, 1pm EDT

We are working closely with the Office of Graduate Education and members of the Writing Program to manage the communications and logistics.  MIT’s WRaP staff and the ELS group will email the appropriate students to explain the exam and provide the logistics for registration and completion.

Individual Zoom interviews with members of the English Language Studies (ELS) group will take the place of the regular listening and speaking components of the EET.  We will have a scheduling program in place for students to sign up for appointments over the summer.

When are the results available?

All the results of the Fall 2020 EET will be available the week before Registration Day. Results for each department will be emailed to departmental administrators. Students will receive individual emails with their results and any recommendations.

What do the results mean?

The EET results are strictly informative:  there is no “passing” or “failing.”  Students taking the EET have been admitted to MIT; the test results will not affect their status as admitted students.  A student’s EET results may indicate that:

  1. One or more academic English skills are weak enough to need immediate attention (inadequate).  A particular course is strongly recommended.  Departmental policy and a student’s advisor decide whether and when a student will act on the recommendation.
  2. One or more academic English skills will benefit from attention (limited) but problems with English may not interfere with first year activities at MIT.  Registering for a particular course is recommended for a future semester.
  3. A student’s academic English skills are proficient (adequate) for engaging fully in studies and research.  No course work is recommended.

What is the relationship between the EET and the Graduate Writing Exam?

Students fulfill the reading and speaking components of the EET by completing the GWE. If a student receives recommendations for an English language writing class, such as 21G.219, 21G.225, 21G.227 and 21G.794 Graduate Technical Writing Workshop, s/he should first act on the recommendation resulting from the EET.

Whom should I contact with questions about the EET and English Language Studies?

Jane Dunphy, Director of English Language Studies (dunphy@mit.edu)
A.C. Kemp (ackemp@mit.edu)

Eric Grunwald (egrunwal@mit.edu)