ORAL ENGLISH ASSESSMENT (EPI)
EPI pages
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For questions or information, please contact:

EPI Coordinator
(217) 265-6136
citl-epi@illinois.edu


OFFICE HOURS

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Interpreting EPI Scores

Graduate students’ oral proficiency is rated on a global rating scale that addresses overall communicative ability for teaching.

To arrive at a global score, the EPI assesses examinees' speaking ability in terms of the following five features:

  • Fluency: smoothness in delivery and only occasional hesitations and re-starts.
  • Linguistic Accuracy: pronunciation and grammatical accuracy (minor errors may occur); sophisticated vocabulary range.
  • Discourse Management: the ability to develop and organize ideas and to speak at length.
  • Question Handling and Listening: the ability to give appropriate answers, and negotiation skills for communication.
  • Listener Effort: the ease or difficulty in processing the examinee's speech.

Possible global scores are 2, 3, 4, 4CP, 5, and 6. Scores of 5 or 6 are passing scores and the applicant is then cleared to teach. A score of 4CP is a “conditional pass” which allows the student to be a TA provided he or she successfully completes ESL 508 during or before the first semester of teaching.  Students who receive a 4CP, 5, or 6 on the EPI must attend the Graduate Academy for College Teaching prior to teaching their first semester.

Score descriptors

Level

Description

Result

Level 6

Communication is always effective; speaker has sophisticated language skills appropriate for a teaching context.

Pass; student is permitted to be a TA with no restrictions

Level 5

Communication is generally effective; speaker has satisfactory language skills at ranges appropriate for a teaching context.

Level 4CP

Communication is generally effective; however due to isolated weakness, communication is occasionally difficult. Further ESL coursework is required during or before the first semester of teaching in order to refine the speaker's language skills for a teaching context.

Conditional Pass; student is required to successfully complete ESL 508 during or before the first semester of teaching

Level 4

Communication is somewhat effective. Inconsistent performance indicates speaker is not ready to be a classroom instructor.

Non-passing; student is NOT permitted to be a TA and must retake the exam

Level 3

Communication is marginally effective; speaker has limited language skills for a teaching context.

Level 2

Communication is generally not effective; speaker has unsatisfactory language for a teaching context.

 

The following video explains how to interpret an Official EPI Score Report

What if a student fails the EPI?

Students who fail the EPI must complete an English improvement activity in order to be eligible to retake the EPI. Students may choose one or both of the following improvement activities:

1) enroll in one of the three ITA-focused ESL courses (ESL 504, 506, or 510), or

2) complete at least 8 weeks of tutoring with an approved EPI tutor. Please note that tutors are not employed by the university. They offer their services on a freelance basis and charge for their services.

If the student selects tutoring for the improvement activity, the following requirements apply:

  • Students must meet with the tutor at least once a week. Starting in Fall 2016, students must meet weekly for a minimum of 8 weeks. Note: Plan ahead! You should start your 8 weeks of tutoring early in the semester during which you plan to retake the EPI. Start searching for a tutor at least 4-6 weeks before you plan to start tutoring.
  • Students who received a 4 on the EPI must complete a minimum of 10 hours of tutoring.
  • Students with an EPI score of 3 must complete a minimum of 20 hours of tutoring before retaking the EPI.
  • Following are dates by which tutoring must start for students to be eligible to retake the EPI in Fall 2017:

Fall 2017

EPI Exam Date

Start tutoring by (NO MEETINGS during Thanksgiving Break)

Start tutoring by (includes meetings during Thanksgiving Break)

Week of November 13

September 17

September 17

Week of November 27

September 24

October 1

Week of December 4

October 1

October 8

Week of December 11

October 8

October 15

  • A letter from the tutor detailing the work that was completed as well as dates and times of tutoring must be submitted to the EPI Coordinator at least one week prior to any subsequent English Proficiency Interview.  Tutors have the appropriate contact information for submitting the completed form.

Once the English improvement activity has been satisfactorily completed, the student is eligible to retake the EPI. Students may retake the EPI during the same semester they are enrolled in an ESL course. Students who plan to do this will be assigned an EPI date that is late in the semester, so they can complete most of the ESL coursework prior to their interview. Students must satisfactorily complete the ESL course in order for their EPI score to be considered official.

Students may not take the EPI twice in the same semester, and they are allowed a maximum of three attempts at the EPI. A "no show" (missing a scheduled EPI without cancelling the appointment at least two business days in advance) counts as an EPI attempt.

Individual language assessment meeting

Students who receive a 3 on their second EPI attempt are strongly encouraged to arrange for an individual language assessment meeting with the ITA Program Coordinator in the Linguistics Department, Suzanne Franks. This one-hour consultation is free of charge. At this meeting, the student will be given a diagnostic exam. Based on that exam, a study plan will be developed to guide the student’s oral English improvement.