What is the ESL Assessment Exam?

The PCC ESL Assessment tests your skills in reading, sentence meaning, and language use. The test will help you determine which level of English as a Second Language (ESL) you should start with.

Who has to take the ESL Assessment Exam?

You need to take the ESL Assessment exam if you:

  • Are a first-year college student at Pasadena City College (PCC) and you come from a country where English is not the native language.
    OR
  • Would plan to take an ESL course for the first time.

However, if you are a native English speaker or you attended junior and senior high school in the United States, then you should take the English assessment exam.


What’s on the ESL Assessment Exam?

  1. Reading Skills (20 questions)
    • This section evaluates your reading comprehension. It has both brief (50 words or less) and moderate-length (50-90 words) passages. For each passage, you will be asked questions that measure your literal comprehension and ability to make inferences.
  2. Sentence Meaning (20 questions)
    • This section will test your understanding of English word meanings in one or two sentence contexts. Questions are broken into four content areas:
      • Particles, Phrasal Verbs, and Propositions
      • Adverbs, Adjectives and Connectives Sequence
      • Basic Nouns and Verbs
      • Basic and Important Idioms
  3. Language Use (20 questions)
    • The Language Use section measures your proficiency in using correct grammar in English sentences. This section assesses you in five areas:
      • Nouns, Pronouns, and Pronoun Case Structure
      • Sentence Structure
      • Subject-Verb Agreement
      • Adverbs, Adjectives, and Verbs
      • Subordination and Coordination

Scoring for the ESL Assessment Exam

Your test will begin by giving you a question of intermediate difficulty. It will adapt to your answers. If you answer a question correctly, the next question will be more difficult and worth more points. However, if you answer a question incorrectly, the next question will be less difficult and worth fewer points. Correctly answering the first few questions will increase your chances of placing into a higher level of ESL.