Michigan EPT

The Michigan English Placement Test (Michigan 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 Michigan EPT score. Michigan EPT forms D, E, F, G, H, and I are parallel forms of the test.

The paper-based Michigan EPT is only available in the USA and Canada.

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 Michigan 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 Michigan EPT

The Michigan EPT is designed for use as a placement test for incoming English language learners (ELLs). Teachers, program administrators, and supervisors can use Michigan EPT scores to make informed decisions about learners’ ability levels based on their Michigan EPT scores. These decisions may include placement into the appropriate class of an intensive English program (IEP), 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 Michigan 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.

Test Scoring

Purchasing institutions score the test. The test package contains reproducible answer sheets and a scoring stencil. The test can be scored quickly, easily, and at the convenience of the purchasing institution. It is possible to administer the test, calculate scores, and report them back to learners within one working day.

Placing Students

The Michigan EPT Administration Manual contains guidance on how to interpret scores. Michigan EPT scores can be used to place learners into at least six distinct levels and the manual provides specific cut points as reference for first-time users of the Michigan EPT. It is very important that users determine final cut scores within their own institution, but the administration manual does provide clear guidance in this respect.

Description of the CEFR Levels

The CaMLA EPT measures overall receptive language proficiency. Scores on the Michigan 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 Michigan EPT and the CEFR can be found in Linking the Common European Framework of Reference and the CaMLA English Placement Test.


This table, from the study linking the Michigan EPT to the CEFR, shows where Michigan 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 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)

Transitioning From Other Tests

If your program still uses the old University of Michigan EPT, there is a table that shows how scores on the Michigan EPT correspond to scores on the 100-item University of Michigan EPT in the EPT Administration Manual. This makes it easy for programs to transition from the older version to the new test.

If your program used Compass ESL, contact us for guidance.

Proven Results and Effectiveness

The Michigan 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 Michigan EPT will successfully discriminate between students at different levels of language proficiency regardless of their language background or current ability level. Please refer to the EPT Development Report.

Using Parallel Test Forms

The Michigan 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.

How are the Michigan EPT and the MTELP Series different?

The two tests have different intended uses. The Michigan EPT should be used to stream ESL learners into similar ability groups. The Michigan EPT is designed to be used with learners whose proficiency level is unknown and will efficiently place these learners into level-appropriate classes.

The MTELP Series is designed for use after a period of instruction with learners whose approximate proficiency level has been determined. The test items on the MTELP Series forms are level appropriate. That means that all the test content on a test form of the MTELP Series is targeted at beginner, intermediate, or advanced learners depending on the level used. So, the Michigan EPT test forms contain test items across a broad range of proficiency levels while the MTELP Series test forms contain test items at a focused level.

Based on a learner’s Michigan EPT score, an institution can predict the appropriate level of the MTELP Series to use and approximately what score to expect.

A very efficient measure of incoming learners’ ESL proficiency, aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).