Much of your success in graduate study in the United States will rest on your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English. Therefore, graduate and professional students whose first language is not English are required to take oral and written English placement exams administered by the EIS program upon matriculation. Depending on your exam results, you are either exempted from or placed into one or more EIS courses.

The purpose of these exams is to assess your English-language skills in terms of readiness for graduate-level study. Your results indicate whether you would benefit from targeted instruction in academic speaking and writing for success at Duke and beyond.

EIS Exam Schedule

The English language placement exams for fall matriculates take place before or during Orientation Week. The exams for spring matriculates take place in the week before classes begin.

In fall 2024, the exams will be administered online. You will need a picture ID and your Duke NetID and password. You must take your exams within the dates and times provided by EIS and your department or program. If you have any problems, you should immediately notify EIS at

You will need your Duke NetID/password and a picture ID to take the exams.

Fall 2024 Exams

Writing exam: August 1-5, 2024; 1 hour; via Duke Canvas

Oral exam: August 8-16, 2024; 20 minutes; via Zoom

You will receive information on how to schedule your exams directly from EIS.

You are required to take a writing exam and a speaking exam if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are an admitted student. 
  • Your first language is something other than English.
  • You are pursuing one of the following degrees at Duke:
    • Ph.D.*
    • Master of Arts
    • Master of Fine Arts
    • Master of Science*
    • Master of Arts in Teaching
    • Master of Biostatistics (School of Medicine)

*Note: Students admitted to the Pratt School of Engineering take placement exams administered by Pratt instead of EIS.

Student records are reviewed holistically. Students are exempted if 1) English is their first/native language or 2) if their application materials clearly show that English is one of their dominant languages and if they completed a four-year undergraduate degree (all 8 semesters) in an English-speaking institution in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States.

In the written exam, you will write a summary and response to a reading. This exam will take approximately 1 hour. Your writing will be assessed on content, organization, language use, and successful paraphrasing.

The oral exam consists of a Zoom interview with one or more instructor(s); this interview will last approximately 20 minutes and will be recorded. You will be assessed on fluency, language (grammar and vocabulary), situational appropriateness, content and organization, and listening comprehension.

Your exam results will be sent to your Duke e-mail address before classes begin. The email will indicate which EIS courses you are required to take. If you are placed into EIS courses, they are Graduate School requirements and you must complete them to receive your degree. EIS courses are intended to be taken early in your academic career. If you are placed into GS 720 and/or GS 721, you must complete these courses during the first year of graduate study.