American Language Program Essay Exam

American Language Program Essay Exam

Who Should Take the Exam

Columbia University students must be fully proficient with written and spoken English. They must also be able to produce academic essays that display grammatical accuracy and lexical sophistication, as well as cogent argumentation at a level commensurate with that of educated native speakers of English. Upon review of your application and as a condition of your admission, you are required to take the Columbia University American Language Program (ALP) Essay Exam prior to finalizing your course registration. The need to take the ALP Essay Exam is a determination made by the Admissions Committee at the time of acceptance and your enrollment at Columbia University is contingent on taking the exam.

No exceptions will be granted to the requirement; this includes but is not limited to the fact that you may have taken the TOEFL, the Duolingo English Test, IELTS, SAT, Online GS Admission Exam, or ACT exams prior to admission. Coursework completed at any other university or college also cannot be considered as an exception from the need to take the exam.

Exam Description

The ALP Essay Exam is designed to measure a test-taker's ability in writing; no speaking portion is included. Test takers will be given 105 minutes to write an essay in response to two short reading passages.

For more information, please consult the American Language Program's FAQ website.


The ALP Essay Exam will be held for incoming GS students on the following dates.

Exam Results

The ALP Essay Exam results will be emailed to students and to their respective department ten business days after the exam date. Results will be used by a student’s academic advisor to determine the appropriate academic plan for the first semester. Students will be required to take additional English language courses if their score on the examination is below level 10. A score below level 8 may require a deferral of the offer of admission to facilitate further, full-time, English language study.

All students who earn a level 9 on the ALP Essay Exam are required to take a 3-point advanced writing course designed f or international students.

More information about scores and score appeals may be found on the American Language Program website.


If you are currently enrolled in the American Language Program or have already taken the ALP Essay Exam please contact ALP at (212) 854-3584 and have them forward your results to the School of General Studies Office of Admissions.