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English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE)

What is the English Language Proficiency Examination (ELPE)?

The ELPE is typically the first exam many Waterloo students write. Students are asked to respond to a question and write 4-5 paragraph impromptu essay in 60 minutes.

The ELPE is handwritten.  If you are registered with AccessAbility Services, you may be allowed to write the exam in a different format.

Who writes the ELPE?

All University of Waterloo undergraduate students enrolled in the faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Environment and Science are required to write and pass the exam. Students enrolled in the faculty of Math can review their options on the Math website. 

If you are an Extended Learning student (formerly known as Distance Education), please contact the Writing Centre at to register to write the ELPE.

If you require an accommodation to write the ELPE, please contact AccessAbility Services to ensure you're registered.

When is the ELPE held?

The ELPE is offered a number of times each year: summer during Student Life 101 (for registered Student Life 101 students only); September, December and April for on-campus students; and December, April, and August for Centre for Extended Learning students.

Students who have issues of accident, illness, or bereavement can arrange to write the ELPE at another time other than the scheduled sittings of the exam.  Documentation is required (medical certificates, etc.).  There is no charge for the exam.

How can I prepare for the ELPE?

Check out our ten tips to help you prepare for the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE)  and review the Preparing for the ELPE (PDF) resource. You can also attend an ELPE strategy session. An ELPE strategy session is offered the day before the ELPE. It's a one-hour session that will give you information on: 

  • Basic requirements of the exam
  • Typical errors
  • Tips for planning, writing and time management

Check back closer to the date of the ELPE to find the date and times for an ELPE Strategy Session.