All incoming international students whose first language is not English are required to take an on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation upon arrival unless they meet any of the exceptions listed below. A $120 fee for the test will be added to the student's first university bill.

This requirement assures that incoming students know English well enough to study, understand lectures, and participate in class discussions without being hindered by a language barrier. There are additional requirements for graduate students who plan to become teaching assistants, listed below.

How the English Proficiency Evaluation is Used

The results of the English Proficiency Evaluation will determine whether admitted students will be:

Exceptions to Taking the English Proficiency Evaluation

Unless otherwise specified by the department offering your degree program, international students whose first language is not English do not need to take the English Proficiency Evaluation if they have:

  • a  score of 100 or higher on the internet-based version of the test (iBT), or
  • a score of 600 or higher on the paper-based (PBT) version of the test.

Newly admitted graduate students who present TOEFL scores below 100 on the iBT or below 600 on the PBT will be required to complete an English Proficiency Evaluation on campus before their first registration for classes. There is no conditional admission for graduate students whose TOEFL scores are below 550 on the PBT or below 81 on the iBT.

Some departments offering graduate and professional degrees may require an English Proficiency Evaluation regardless of your TOEFL Score. All applicants submitting an IELTS score in lieu of a TOEFL score are required to take an English Proficiency Evaluation.

Requirements for Teaching Assistants

Graduate students with teaching assistantships at Iowa are required to complete the English Speaking Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) to assess their command of spoken English. Students who perform at an acceptable level on the ESPA are also required to take the English Language Performance Test (ELPT), in which a presentation is made to an audience.

The ESPA and the ELPT are separate from the English Proficiency Evaluation, which also may be required. Affected students will receive more information about these exams from their academic departments. Research assistants are not required to take these tests.