TESOL - Comprehensive Exam

Department of English


Graduate Programs in Applied Linguistics & TESOL

Comprehensive Exam

The MS TESOL comprehensive examination is given once each semester; it is not given during the summer. Students should consult the Graduate Catalog and the Graduate Studies office concerning general requirements and the application procedure. The usual deadlines for applying are October 1 for the Fall examination and February 15 for the Spring examination. Adequate notification of the time and place of the examination will then be sent by the Department of English to each applicant; ordinarily, the Fall examination will be given the first Friday and Saturday in November and the Spring examination will be given the last Friday and Saturday in March. The Friday session will include questions on TESOL Theory/Second Language Acquisition, TESOL Practice, and Sociolinguistics. The Saturday session will include questions on Phonology and Syntax.

On some questions, a choice of topics may be offered, in which case students should be sure to select only one or as directed in the instructions. As far as scheduling is concerned, students who are answering only one question will have the first 90 minutes of the scheduled exam session to finish. They will write questions offered to other candidates on Friday at the Friday session and questions offered to other candidates on Saturday at the Saturday session. Students are advised that course-work alone may not fully prepare them for the examination and that not all course offerings relate directly to the examination. By way of preparation, a candidate may consult copies of past examinations accessible at:


Graduate School requirements for admission to the examination are 24 semester hours of course work completed or in progress, including the LING 598 research course, and a 3.00 GPA. Students who fail the examination may be allowed a second opportunity to pass it during the regular examination times. An application for a second attempt at the examination requires the signatures of the student’s advisor and the chairperson of the English Department. A student who fails only one question may be allowed to repeat that question only; a student who fails more than one question must repeat the entire examination. If, after a second attempt at passing the examination, a candidate has not passed at least four questions, the department may require that additional course work be undertaken before any further retakes may be approved. In any case, a third attempt requires the signatures of the student’s advisor, the chairperson of the English Department, and the Dean of the Graduate School. According to Graduate School policy, students are allowed only three attempts. Failure to pass the exam on all of the three attempts results in dismissal and a marking of Fail on the transcript. Failure to show up for an exam for which you have registered counts as a failed attempt, so students who wish to withdraw from taking the exams should do so formally. Students should consult the graduate catalog for more information on examination policy.

Students enrolled in Plan “B” who fail the comprehensive exam are not permitted to change to Plan “A”. Students who have completed all coursework but are planning to take the examination and are not registered in any other courses must pay a $40 continuation fee.

TESOL Comprehensive Exams Rubric