English Language Proficiency Test for New Students (Undergraduate)

Guidelines    |    About the Test    |    VIEW TEST RESULTS

Guidelines for Proficiency Test

ALL applicants to the University, unless exempted (see who is exempted below), are required to take a Proficiency Test in English. The application for the test may be obtained at the same time as the normal application form from the Student Affairs Section at Cave Hill, Mona or St. Augustine, or from Resident Tutors or University Representatives in Non-Campus Countries.

Who is exempted from the Test?

Possession of one of the following will exempt you from taking the test:
  • Grade 1 in CXC General Proficiency in English A
  • Grade 1 or 2 in CAPE Communications Studies Examination
  • Grade A in the Cambridge GCE 'O' Level examination
  • Grade A or B in the Alternative Ordinary (AO) General Paper
  • Graduates of the Barbados Community College who have completed the course CORE100 English and Communication with Grade B or higher.
  • Entrants to the Faculty of Law, who already hold a degree or a pass in English Literature at Advanced Level.
What happens after I pass the test?

Those who pass or are exempted (as listed above) from the test, are qualified to take the two compulsory Level I Foundation Language courses*.  Students in the Faculty of Humanities and Education must register for the following in their first year:
    1. FOUN1001English for Academic Purposes AND
    2. Either FOUN1002 Language: Argument OR FOUN1003 Rhetoric I. (Psychology students do FOUN1008 Rhetoric II).
It is highly recommended that students not do both Foundation courses in the same semester.

* Students in Faculties other than Humanities and Education, please check your Faculty Handbook for guidance on the Foundation courses you are required to take.

What if I fail or did not take the Proficiency Test?

Those who fail or did not take the test or are not exempted are required to pass the foundation writing course FOUN0100 Fundamentals of Written English BEFORE registering for any of the two required Level I Foundation Courses. FOUN0100 Fundamentals of Written English is offered in both semesters for a fee of Bds $500 as well as in the Summer School for the regular Summer School fee.

About the ELP test

The test lasts for two hours and covers the following areas:


Candidates are required to answer alternative/multiple choice items on any or all of the following :
  • Grammar of the simple sentence
  • Grammar of complex/compound sentences
  • Idiomatic usage
  • Mechanics of writing and spelling
  • The focus is on the candidate’s ability to distinguish between correct and incorrect structures rather than on their knowledge of formal grammar.

Candidates should be able to detect differences in meaning based on punctuation and should also be able to recognise ambiguous sentences and be able to rewrite them in a way that disambiguates their meanings; and must demonstrate an understanding of idiomatic English (idioms, proverbs, figurative expressions)


Candidates will be required to read three or four passages and to critically analyse the passages to summarise the main ideas.


Candidates are required to write a 750-800 word essay in which they have to demonstrate satisfactory performance in the following areas:

1. Structure and organisation
  • Clear coherent thesis
  • Clear introduction, body and conclusion
  • Good paragraphing skills
  • Adequate use of connective devices
2. Content
  • Adequate number of points to address the issue
  • Coverage of all parts of the question
  • Originality of ideas or treatment of the topic
3. Style
  • Fluency
  • Appropriate variety and level of formality
  • Good grammar (few errors)



Faculty of Humanities and Education
Telephone: (246) 417-4385/87 Fax: (246) 424-0634 E-mail: humanities@cavehill.uwi.edu