ELAE

Why the ELAE?

The English Language Assessment Exam is different from international proficiency exams such as IELTS and TOEFL since it has been designed specifically for the context of academic study at Sabanci University. It was created on the basis of analysis of what students will need to do in their Freshman year at the university. The ELAE was designed in collaboration with international language testing experts and with input from instructors at the School of Languages. 

Because the ELAE is specifically produced for students who will study FDY university courses at SU, it has several important advantages over other, more general tests. The exam materials are very similar to those that students will study in their Nature of Science (NS), Social and Political Sciences (SPS) and Mathematics courses in Freshman, in terms of:

* The themes/subjects covered. 
* The types of texts (lectures, textbook readings, etc.). 
* Greater length of texts.
* The specific academic language (in both grammar and course-specific vocabulary).
* Authentic listening, reading and writing tasks involving skills/strategies required to perform successfully in SU university courses.
* Situations students may face, e.g. skimming large quantities of text to find main ideas quickly, listening to dialogue while in a tutorial/seminar situation.
* The percentage of grades given to each skill reflecting its importance in later university studies.

Other more general points about the ELAE that are worth noting:

* It takes into consideration candidates’ educational background so that all sections of the exam are accessible to students recently graduated from Turkish high schools. 
* Most questions in reading and listening are open-ended, needing short written answers of a few words. There is no multiple choice in the ELAE.
* Candidates pass the exam if they gain an overall grade of 65% on any ELAE. There is not a fixed number of people who ‘must’ pass or fail in any year. 
* The content and skills needed for the ELAE reflect the objectives of courses at the School of Languages.

As a result, both students and teaching staff can be more confident that candidates who are successful in the ELAE will have a level of English which is suitable for coping with Freshman studies at Sabanci University.

Since international proficiency exams attempt to be universal and are used by a wide variety of people and institutions, they face certain difficulties:

* They cannot be suited to the differences between individual institutions/universities.
* They may use tasks which are not relevant to academic study.
* The topics used may be completely unrelated to SU Freshman studies.
* They may include language which is not relevant to academic study at SU.
* The grade given to a candidate may depend on the overall ability of the other people who take the test. In other words, the same performance could be given different grades from exam to exam according to the level of the other candidates.

Importantly, this means that preparatory courses for the international exams also contain material which is less relevant to the needs of Freshman students at Sabanci University.

"Memorised” ELAE essays: For the ELAE and other exams, some candidates are advised by people outside Sabancı University to memorise a ‘formula’ with which they can answer any essay question that may come up in the exam. This involves paragraphs, sentences and phrases which are then combined with words taken from the essay question and a small number of sentences which are the candidates own words and ideas. 

An example of this kind of essay is given here. In this sample, the parts which seem to have been memorized as a ‘formula’ are underlined. They make up about half of the essay, which means that only half of the essay is the candidate’s ‘original’ work. However, it is important to note that this is not an effective way to answer the ELAE essay question. The sample paper given would receive a failing grade according to the ELAE criteria.

Writing papers which depend on this type of formula often have the following problems, and are not satisfactory answers:

* They contain overgeneralised introductions and conclusions which have no relevance to the essay topic.
* There are grammar problems because when ‘filling in the blanks’ in the formula, the language does not fit the rest of the sentence.
* Vocabulary in the formula and the candidate’s original sections do not match.
* The essay repeats a lot of phrases.
* The formula is usually not suitable to the essay topic, e.g., ‘controversial issue’.
* There is a minimum of the writer’s own material, which is not enough to answer the question.
* Experts and statistics may be referred to which are not named or may not be real.

Here are some important points to consider for the ELAE writing section:

* All parts of the essay should be clearly related to the question.
* It is very important to develop relevant points with explanations and examples in clear language.
* Information in the essay should fit together coherently – there is no fixed format required. Features such as introductions and conclusions may help the organization of the essay, but they are not necessary if the essay is well organized in other ways. 
* The overall organisation of the essay is important – grades are not given according to the use of topic sentences, thesis statements, etc.

A copy of the criteria used to grade the ELAE writing section can be found here.

For more tips on being successful in the writing section and the other sections of the ELAE, read here

In addition to its varied curriculum, the SL is also responsible for ensuring that all students entering their Freshman year have the required level of English as well as the academic skills needed for success at SU. This is assessed through the SL's own English Language Assessment Exam (the ELAE). The ELAE is administered four times a year; in January (for students who successfully complete Upper-intermediate, and for Graduate students) at the end of the academic year (June/July), prior to the beginning of the academic year (September), and again at the end of September to those students who narrowly failed the earlier September exam. All newly admitted students are required to take the ELAE at the beginning of the academic year for which they are registering. Students who pass the exam are enrolled directly into Freshman Year courses. Depending on their score, the rest are placed in one of three levels of language instruction: Basic, Intermediate, or Upper Intermediate. Depending on their major, Graduate students may or may not be required to pass the ELAE by the end of their studies. If their faculty requires an ELAE pass they may take the ELAE when it is offered.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ELAE

Who takes the English Language Assessment Exam?
The exam is taken by all newly enrolled Sabancı University students as well as those students who have successfully completed the Upper Intermediate course.

What happens if I already have an internationally recognised English language certificate?
In accordance with the change in the Instruction Letter of the Higher Education Council regarding Foreign Language Education and Foreign Language Medium Education (Clause 5 RG-28/06/2009-27272) and the decision taken by the SU Academic Council (2009/14) dated 15 July 2009, the following international exams and minimum scores will exempt students from the SU Foundation Development Year. [Read more here]

When is the ELAE?
The ELAE is administered four times a year; in January (for students who successfully complete Upper-intermediate and for Graduate students) at the end of the academic year (June/July), prior to the beginning of the academic year (September), and again at the end of September to those students who narrowly failed the earlier September exam. All newly admitted students are required to take the ELAE at the beginning of the academic year for which they are registering. Those students who pass the exam are enrolled directly into Freshman Year courses. For the ELAE exam dates, please see the relevant academic calendar.

How do I register for the Exam?
As soon as a student is accepted by the University s/he is automatically registered for the September English Language Assessment Exam. An information exam pack detailing examination arrangements will be given to all registered students.

If I get a very high grade on the Upper-intermediate course, can I be exempt from the ELAE?
Yes, you can. If you receive an overall grade of 80% or more, you do NOT have to take the ELAE ; you directly become a Freshman student.

If I get a very high grade from the ELAE, can I be considered exempt from Freshman English courses?
Please click here for the answer

How many sections are there in the Stage II exam? How much is each section worth? What do I need to get in order to pass the exam?
There are 3 main sections in the Stage II exam: Writing, Listening and Reading (Please refer to the exam sample for Stage 2). The Writing and Listening sections are worth 30% each and the Reading section is worth 40%. Students need to receive an overall minimum grade of 65 out of 100 to pass the exam. 

Is there a make-up for the ELAE?
No.

What happens if I fail the ELAE?
Please refer to the 'SL requirements' as well as the Foundations Development Year Instruction Letter (Temel Gelistirme Yili Yonetmeligi) located in the main SU web-site.

Please click here for an interactive practice English Language Assessment Exam, and study guidelines on the SL web site.