English language exam and interview (Exam formats)

Each fall ( October to December), Waterloo's Faculty of Science will send a certified examiner to each partner university to assess the English proficiency of Science 2+2 applicants with a written test and a personal interview. Year 2020 is different, and there is no face-to-face interview. Information about the English exam in year 2020 can be found here (in a pdf document). Admission decisions will be made based on both your English test score and academic standing.

There are four timed parts in the written test:

Below is a breakdown of the structure of each section:

Part I: Listening comprehension (35 marks)

The listening comprehension test must be administered by a native speaker of English.

  1. Word Recognition: Students identify which word of a choice of four they hear a speaker say. There are 15 items.
  2. Sentence Completion: Students complete a spoken sentence with the word most suitable of four options. There are 10 items.
  3. Sentence Response: Students choose the best of four answers to a question they hear the speaker ask. There are 10 items.

Part II: Reading comprehension (35 marks)

  1. Paraphrase: Of the four sentences in each of 10 items, students choose the one which most accurately repeats the information in the model.

    Example: It took John a long time to find out that he couldn't do the exercise .

    a) John spent a long time working on the exercise before he finished it.
    b) John spent a long time trying to finish the exercise.
    c) John spent a long time on the exercise before realizing that he didn't know how to do it.
    d) John spent a long time working on the exercise before he discovered how to do it.
  2. Sight passage: After reading a 350-word passage, students read 10 statements about it and determine which are true and which are false.
  3. Vocabulary: Each item consists of a word followed by four possible meanings. Students identify the word that is closest in meaning to the test word. There are 15 such items.

    Example: perhaps

    a) always
    b) maybe
    c) truly
    d) therefore

Part III: Grammar and usage (50 marks)

  1. General grammar questions: Students mark the letter corresponding to the word or phrase which most appropriately completes each of 25 sentences.

    Example: Those towels are. . . . . . . for us to use to dry the dishes.

    a) so wet
    b) too wet
    c) as wet
    d) wet enough
  2. Idioms: Students fill in the blanks in 15 sentences with appropriate prepositions.

    Example: Parents are expected to look _____ their children well.

    Answer: Parents are expected to look after their children well.
  3. Sentence construction: On a separate page, students are asked to write grammatically complete sentences using each of 10 given words meaningfully.

    Example: however We read the instructions three times; however , we still could not understand it.

Part IV: Writing (50 marks)

On paper provided, students are to write a short essay on their choice of two given general topics. They may write as much as they want; but should aim for at least 300 words. If unsure about the topic, they are allowed to ask for help.

Important: Students must also count their words and put the total at the top of their first page.

Miscellaneous information

Students are expected to complete each section within the allotted time. Students who finish early are to review their answers. They may use pen or pencil, whichever they prefer. They may not use any outside aids such as a dictionary.

The questions in Part I and in Part II: A and B are all multiple choice, and the answers are recorded on the actual test pages. The questions in Part II: C and in Part III are to be completed on paper supplied to the students. When the students are asked to do their own writing on this paper, we insist that they write on every other line.