ELAE (Face to Face) 

The School of Languages (SL) is 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), a proficiency exam with a pre-determined standard of achievement. ELAE consists of two stages that are administered on different days. Stage I is a placement exam and passing it is a prerequisite for eligibility to take the Stage II exam. Students who receive a “UL” grade from Stage I are placed in the appropriate route of the SL FDY program based on their scores. Those who receive “SL” as their grade take the Stage II exam. Those students who pass the Stage II exam are enrolled directly into Freshman Year courses.


Who takes the English Language Assessment 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 the appropriate Route of the SL FDY English program.

When is the ELAE?
The ELAE is administered several times a year; in January, at the end of the academic year (June/July), and prior to the beginning of the academic year (August/September). For the ELAE exam dates, please see the relevant academic calendar.

How do I register for the Exam?

As soon as students are accepted by the University, they are automatically registered for the August/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 from the ELAE, can I be considered exempt from Freshman English courses?

How many sections are there in the ELAE Stage I exam? How many questions are there? 

There are three main sections in the ELAE Stage I exam: grammar, vocabulary and writing. Students are given 60 minutes to complete the first two sections and then are allowed 30 minutes to complete the writing section of the Stage I exam.

Sample questions can be found at the link below. Only students who are successful in Stage I can take Stage II.


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 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 70 out of 100 to pass the exam.

Is there a make-up for the ELAE?


What happens if I fail the ELAE?
Please refer to the 'SL handbook’ on the SL website as well as the Foundations Development Year Instruction Letter (Temel Geliştirme Yili Yönetmeliği) located in the main SU website.

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

What happens if I already have an internationally recognised English language certificate?
If students can certify that they have passed one of the national and/or international foreign language examinations at a level determined by the university, they will be entitled to begin their undergraduate programs. (Read more here)


How can I prepare for the ELAE? 

  • Study vocabulary. A good starting point would be to check the following word lists: 

K1 - first thousand words

K2 - second thousand words

K3 - third thousand words

K4 - fourth thousand words

K5 - fifth thousand words

New Academic Word list 


  • Study grammar: If you have any grammar books it would be useful to review and revise sentence structures. ELAE Stage I assess language at A1-B1 levels based on CEFRL (Elementary-Intermediate), and Stage II assesses language competence at B2 level (Upper Intermediate / Advanced). 

Please see the Global CEFRL Scales at: https://www.coe.int/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages/table-1-cefr-3.3-common-reference-levels-global-scale

Why the ELAE?

The English Language Assessment Exam is different from international proficiency exams such as PTE and TOEFL since it has been designed specifically for the context of academic study at Sabancı University. It was created on the basis of an 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:

* Most questions in reading and listening are open-ended, needing short written answers of a few words.
* Candidates pass the exam if they gain an overall grade of 70% 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