Center For Language Education-SUSTech | The CaMLA English Placement Test
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The CaMLA English Placement Test

The CaMLA English Placement Test


The CaMLA English Placement Test (EPT) is designed to quickly and reliably place ESL students into appropriate ability levels. It provides an accurate assessment of a test taker’s general language proficiency by measuring performance in the following key skill areas:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Grammatical knowledge
  • Vocabulary range
  • Reading comprehension

Teachers and program administrators will be able to confidently place ESL students into appropriate levels and classes based on a CaMLA EPT score. CaMLA EPT forms D, E, F, G, H, and I are parallel forms of the test.

Level: Beginning to Low-Advanced


  • 80-item multiple-choice exam
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Six forms available: D, E, F, G, H, and I
  • Scoring is by punched stencil (purchasers may use their own scannable answer sheets)


The exam questions on the CaMLA EPT assess the following:

  • Listening comprehension of questions and conversations (audio recording included)
  • Grammar in context
  • Selection of vocabulary to fit the context of single sentences
  • Reading comprehension of sentences and texts

How to Use the CaMLA EPT

The CaMLA EPT is designed for use as a placement test for incoming English language learners (ELLs). Teachers, program administrators, and supervisors can use CaMLA EPT scores to make informed decisions about learners’ ability levels based on their CaMLA EPT scores. These decisions may include placement into into a multilevel ESL program, and determining suitable work assignments in occupational settings where English language proficiency is required.

Test Questions and Format

There are 80 questions on all CaMLA EPT forms; 25 listening items, 20 grammar items, 20 vocabulary items, and 15 reading comprehension items. All questions on the EPT are multiple choice with three options for the listening section and four options for all other sections.

Each test form takes around 60 minutes for the test itself to be completed. Proctors need to allow additional time for administrative procedures (approximately 10 minutes to distribute and collect test materials and to read directions). All test directions are scripted and given in the administration manual.

Description of the CEFR Levels


This table, from the study linking the CaMLA EPT to the CEFR, shows where CaMLA EPT test takers fall in relation to CEFR, as well as providing skill level scores, which institutions can use as a guide for setting cut scores.

The CaMLA EPT measures overall receptive language proficiency. Scores on the CaMLA EPT are linked to the proficiency levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, with score ranges corresponding to the A1–C1 levels. More about the CaMLA EPT and the CEFR can be found in Linking the Common European Framework of Reference and the CaMLA English Placement Test.

The following descriptions of learner ability at each of the CEFR levels are adapted from the CEFR:

C1: Can follow most speech with relative ease, recognizing a wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms, and appreciating register shifts. Can understand in detail a wide range of lengthy, complex written texts likely to be encountered in social, professional, or academic life, identifying finer points of detail including attitudes and opinions, both stated and implied.

B2: Can understand speech likely to be encountered in social, professional, or academic life and identify speaker viewpoints and attitudes as well as informational content. Can read with a large degree of independence and understand texts in which the writers adopt particular stances or viewpoints.

B1: Can understand the main points of clear speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, or leisure. Can understand the main points of factual written texts on familiar subjects with a satisfactory level of comprehension.

A2: Can understand and extract the essential information from slow and clear speech dealing with predictable everyday matters. Can understand short, simple written texts containing the highest frequency vocabulary.

A1: Can follow slow, simple, and carefully articulated speech on familiar and concrete matters. Can understand very short, simple written texts a single phrase at a time.

(adapted from Council of Europe, 2001: 66–70; 75)

Proven Results and Effectiveness

The CaMLA EPT was extensively pretested with English language learners at many different levels of proficiency, from many different first-language backgrounds, and in many different contexts. This pretesting phase—after which any poorly performing items were discarded—can make users confident that the CaMLA EPT will successfully discriminate between students at different levels of language proficiency regardless of their language background or current ability level.

Using Parallel Test Forms

The CaMLA EPT has six test forms that are parallel forms of the test. Each of these forms has unique content; there are no shared items across them. However, the six test forms have been set at the same level of difficulty. Parallel test forms help users maintain test security as the different forms may be used at random, while maintaining the same level of measurement and score meaning across administrations.