English Language Placement Test Sample

International students applying for admission without providing any TOEFL or other English proficiency test scores will take an English language placement test during orientation. This test was designed by an experienced team of  Shoreline faculty members  with advanced degrees in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). The English placement test has three sections: reading, writing, and listening. Click the tabs below to see each section.

The reading section of Shoreline Community College's English placement test has five passages. Each passage is followed by five multiple-choice questions. Here is a sample:

"Ted Serios is not a normal person. He was in his mid-forties when he was introduced to Jule Eisenbud, Professor of Psychiatry at Denver Medical School in 1963.

"During the next several years, Eisenbud showed that Serios had the bizarre ability to produce images on film by simply staring into a camera. Together, Eisenbud and Serios produced more than two hundred of these "thoughtographs." Most of them were images of buildings, landscapes, people, and machines. The thoughtographs were created under carefully controlled conditions and the process was observed by many witnesses, some of whom were very skeptical of Serios' claimed abilities. The experimenters were careful to exclude the possibility of fraud by using methods such as medical examinations and X-rays. They even put Serios in a straightjacket and removed all of his clothes.

"No one has ever been able to give a satisfactory explanation for the pictures that Serios and Eisenbud made."

1. What is the main idea of this reading passage?
    a. A man named Ted Serios met a psychiatrist named Julie Eisenbud.
    b. A man was able to create photographic images by looking into a camera.
    c. Ted Serios was examined very carefully by scientists.
    d. Electromagnetic radiation can create images on film.

2. Which of the following is true, according to the reading passage?
    a. Ted Serios was a doctor at a medical school in Denver .
    b. The images that Serios created were limited to people and buildings.
    c. Serios forced some other people to wear a straightjacket.
    d. No one has ever been able to explain how Serios created “thoughtographs”.

3. What is the most likely meaning of the word “fraud”?
    a. disease
    b. fakery
    c. machinery
    d. beauty

4. The word “them” in paragraph 2, line 3 refers to...
    a. Eisenbud and Serios
    b. “thoughtographs”
    c. people and buildings
    d. respectable witnesses

5. If this reading passage continued, what do you suppose the next part might be about?
    a. some other strange phenomenon
    b. Ted Serios' family life
    c. the history of Denver Medical School
    d. difficulties in taking good vacation photos


Answers: B, D, B, B, A

For the writing section of Shoreline Community College's English placement test, students may choose to write for the higher level or the lower level.

Higher level: a student who writes an essay based on a higher level topic will be placed in English 101, the appropriate English for Academic Purposes (EAP) level, or the appropriate ESL level.

Lower level: a student who chooses to write a paragraph based on a lower level topic will be placed in the appropriate ESL level.

Here is an example of the Writing Section of the English placement test:

Higher level: If you would like to be considered for English 101 or EAP, please write an essay on ONE of the following topics:

1. Explain two ways that some form of transportation has changed urban life.

2. Argue that people should not be allowed to marry until they are more than thirty years old.

Lower level: If you would like to be considered for ESL, please write one or two paragraphs on one of the following topics:

1. Tell about a time you lost something important.

2. Tell about a funny experience you had with a friend.

The listening section has five passages that are tape-recorded. Students listen to each passage on tape and then answer five multiple-choice questions. Here is a sample:

"The following short listening passage is part of a listening test. You will hear a short sample of speech followed by five questions. Each question will be repeated on the tape, but the questions do not appear in the test booklet. You may take notes on the provided piece of paper. When you answer the questions, be sure to mark your answers on the scantron and not on the test booklet. Your notes will be collected after the test."

Listening passage one

"The banjo is a musical instrument which originated in Africa. Because African music is very much based on rhythm, the banjo looks very much like a drum and probably developed from a drum. It also has a neck and from four to six strings. The banjo was probably brought from Africa to America by slaves in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the United States, white country musicians began using the banjo to play their dance music. Eventually, the four-string banjo became an integral part of early jazz, called Dixieland and the five-string banjo became the foundation of a kind of fast country music called bluegrass.

"Listen to the following questions and mark your answers on your scantron sheet." 

1.  What is a banjo?
    a. a musical instrument
    b. a slave
    c. a kind of music
    d. a dance

2. Where did the banjo originate?
    a. in Asia
    b. in Europe
    c. In Africa
    d. In America

3. What are two kinds of music in which the banjo is used?
    a. four-string and five-string
    b. rhythm and strings
    c. the 16th and 17th century
    d. dixieland and bluegrass

4. What would be the most likely source of this listen passage?
    a. a music appreciation lecture
    b. a radio advertisement
    c. a political speech
    d. a TV situation comedy

5. If this listening passage continued, what would the next topic probably be?
    a. types of drums in Africa
    b. the problem of slavery in America
    c. some famous banjo players
    d. classical music today


Answers: A, C, D, A, C