If you are an international graduate student whose first language is not English, you must take oral and written exams upon arriving at Duke to demonstrate proficiency in academic English. This is required regardless of the TOEFL or IELTS score you submitted with your application for admission.

Depending on your placement exam results, you will be either exempted from or placed into one or more English for International Students courses. The courses you place into will be part of your degree requirements, and you must show satisfactory progress toward completing these courses in your first year of study.

Visit the English for International Students section of our website to learn more about the language exams, courses, and services for international students.

Exam Format and Times

The written exam includes summarizing a reading and writing an essay. The oral exam is similar to the SPEAK test.

The exams are given in the weeks leading up to the beginning of classes each semester, and you must register for and complete them in a timely manner. Details about the time and location of the tests will be sent to you by EIS and/or your department.

You will be notified of your placement exam results before the beginning of classes.


Non-degree and exchange students are exempted from the exam and course requirements.

Exemption requests for other students are handled on an individual basis and should be directed to EIS director Brad Teague (brad.teague@duke.edu).