English Placement Test (EPT)

The California State University requires all students to take the English Placement Test and the Entry Level Mathematics test prior to enrollment in the California State Universities unless they are exempt by means of scores earned on other appropriate tests such as the ACT, AP, EAP and/or SAT. Although your EPT and ELM test scores are not requested as part of your admissions application to the university, you must satisfy the requirement before enrolling in classes.

Unless exempt, you must take the EPT and ELM tests by May 2, 2015 for fall 2015 enrollment. Because of heavy demand and limited seating, you should sign up for the tests much earlier than the May deadline. If you are required to take the EPT and/or the ELM but fail to do so, you will not be allowed to enroll at California State University, Northridge. If you do not perform well on the test(s), you will be placed in an appropriate developmental program during your first term of enrollment.

General Information

The English Placement Test is designed to assess the level of reading and writing skills of students entering the California State University. The California State University EPT must be completed by all non-exempt entering undergraduates prior to enrollment in any course including remedial courses. At CSUN, students who score 147 or above on the EPT will be placed in a one-semester college-level writing class. Students who score 146 and below will be placed in a two-semester college-level writing class. 

The EPT requires approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to administer and contains the following three sections.

  • Essay: 45 minutes on an assigned topic
  • Reading skills: 30 minutes to answer 45 multiple-choice questions

  • Composing skills: 30 minutes to answer 45 multiple-choice questions

The first section asks you to write an essay. The next two sections assess your ability to comprehend and interpret reading material and your understanding of sentence construction and paragraph development.


To be exempt from the EPT, students must present proof of one of the following:

  • A score of "Exempt" or "Ready for college-level English courses" on the California State University Early Assessment Program taken along with the English Language Arts California Standard Test in grade 11
  • A score of "Conditionally ready for college-level English courses" or "Conditional" on the California State University EAP taken along with the English Language Arts California Standard Test in grade 11, provided successful completion of the Expository Reading and Writing Course, AP English, IB English or an English course approved for extra honors weight on the University of California "a-g" Doorways course list
  • A score of 500 or above on the critical reading section of the College Board SAT Reasoning Test
  • A score of 22 or above on the American College Testing English exam
  • A score of 3 or above on either the Language and Composition or Composition and Literature examination of the College Board Scholastic Advanced Placement Program
  • Completion and transfer to California State University of the credits for a college course that satisfies the California State University general education requirement in English composition, provided such a course was completed with a grade of “C” or better

Note: The College Board SAT I and SAT II were renamed SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Tests, respectively, beginning March 2005.

Students who qualify for an exemption that is not reflected in university records should check to see if the qualifying score was sent to CSUN when the test was taken. Contact ETS at (925) 808-2142 to double check where your scores were sent. If your scores have not been reported to CSUN, send a copy of your qualifying test scores to the address below so the exemption can be documented on your permanent academic record at CSUN. Please remember to keep a copy of the exemption notice for your records.

Admission and Records
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330-8207

Test Dates

All 23 California State University campuses administer the EPT (and the ELM) on a variety of variable dates. For a complete listing, check the California State University EPT/ELM Information bulletin. Pay close attention to the registration deadline listed by each test date since your registration must reach the testing office by the registration deadline.

Students may take the test at the most convenient California State University campus. Online registration is available for all campuses.

If you wish to take the EPT at CSUN, online registration is available. It is highly recommended that you test by one of the test dates listed below. 

CSUN EPT and ELM testing calendar

Test and Registration Dates for English Placement Test (EPT)
Test DateRegistration Begins at 8 a.m. onRegistration Ends at noon on
February 14, 2015*November 17, 2014January 30, 2015
March 21, 2015*November 17, 2014March 6, 2015
April 11, 2015January 25, 2015March 27, 2015
May 2, 2015*+March 1, 2015April 17, 2015
June 20, 2015March 29, 2015June 5, 2015

*System-wide EPT and ELM test dates.
+Last day to take EPT and ELM for fall 2015 enrollment.

For information on specific exam time and location, visit the Testing Calendar page.


The English Placement Test is given in conjunction with the Entry Level Mathematics exam. Online registration is available for all campuses. Go to the California State University EPT/ELM Information bulletin for a complete list of EPT and/or ELM test dates and registration procedures.

If you wish to take the EPT at CSUN, online registration is available.

There is an $18 charge for the EPT, payable when you register for the examination. Students who are unable to pay online via credit card, Paypal or e-check, must contact ETS at (925) 808-2142 for an alternate payment method. No student will be tested without proper payment and picture identification.

Testing Accommodations

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Alternative testing accommodations such as extended time, electronic text, readers or scribes are available through the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) department to students that have a documented disability and require accommodations to take the exam. If you are not a registered student with DRES and have a disability, please visit the DRES website for registration procedures.

In order to receive testing accommodations for the EPT and/or ELM tests, you will need to contact Disability Resources and Educational Services to provide proof of a disability and to schedule the tests. After review of your documentation, DRES will contact you to make an intake appointment with a disability counselor. This appointment should be scheduled at least 14 days prior to the EPT and/or ELM tests. To ensure all accommodations are in place for your tests, it is imperative that you contact the DRES office as soon as possible. Please understand that without the disability documentation and intake appointment we are unable to provide the requested accommodation.

Accommodations for Religious Observances

Non-Saturday testing is available for religious observances. If your religious observance prevents you from taking the test on the scheduled test date, students must sign up for the EPT online and contact the Testing Center to receive alternate testing arrangements at (818) 677-2369. Be prepared to provide documentation. The university EPT registration deadlines apply to all students, and accommodation requests must be submitted by the registration deadline.

Test Day

  • Students should report to the location listed on their admission ticket. Rooms are assigned on site.
  • Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your test time to allow for parking.
  • Current photo ID (driver's license, student ID, passport, etc.)
  • Several #2 pencils
  • Know your social security number (do not bring your card)
  • Your printed admission ticket

Visit our Test Reporting Locations Map for driving directions to all on-campus testing locations.

Out of State Testing

Students who are non-California residents and are unable to test at one of the California State Universities and need to test in their home state, must register online at the ETS website and select the test campus as "Out of State.” Please note that there is an out of state testing fee of $75 in addition to the testing fees.

Test Scores

After you have taken the appropriate placement tests, schedule an appointment with your advisor to select the appropriate course(s) to enroll in for your first semester at CSUN.

Total test score: Your total test score is the combined scores of all three sections. It will indicate whether you have the skills in reading and writing that will permit you to perform according to the standards expected of you in regular college writing courses. A low total score indicates that you should enroll in a class and/or laboratory designed to improve your skills.

Reading skills score: Your score on the reading skills section of the test will indicate whether you are reading on a college-entry level or whether you should receive special instruction in reading.

Composing skills score: Your score on the composing skills section of the test will indicate your ability to select sentences that establish clear meaning, your knowledge of sentence structure according to the conventions of standard written English at the college-entry level, and your ability to recognize statements that support or help develop a given idea.

Essay score: Your score on the essay will indicate whether you have the skills necessary to write in-class papers or examinations in college.

Because the EPT is a placement test, scores determine what courses students must attend. The chart below will help you and your advisor select the appropriate course:

Course Placement Determined by EPT Score
EPT ScoreCourse Placement
139 and belowENGL 113A/UNIV 061 followed by ENGL 113B/UNIV 062
140-146ENGL 114A followed by ENGL 114B
147 or higherENGL 115

Failure to complete the required developmental courses in two semesters will result in disenrollment from CSUN. For information about compliance policy, consult the California State University Executive Order 665.


Helpful Sample Materials

To find out more about what's on the test, see Focus on English, which provides information about the entry-level English requirement of the California State University EPT test. The document explains scores on other tests that will exempt students from EPT and it includes answers to a number of frequently asked questions. The Focus on English pamphlet includes samples of the types of questions appearing on the new EPT test, as well as examples of essays and how they were scored. (Note: You will need Acrobat Reader to view these documents. It is available as a free download.)

See the California State University English Success website for test review questions.

Additional Information

Additional details may be found at the official California State University EPT/ELM website or the Online ETS Bulletin.


We have also provided a list of EPT and ELM FAQs for any additional questions you may have.

Early Assessment Program

Early Start Program