General Information about Important Exams

Dear Students,

All courses at Işık University are conducted in English. As the School of Foreign Languages (SFL), our primary aim is to help our students acquire the necessary language skills (reading comprehension, writing, listening, and speaking) they will need throughout their academic studies. Each new student has to prove that his or her level of English is sufficient for academic studies. Students can certify their English competence either by passing the Işık University English Proficiency Exam or by bringing a matching score from one of the language exams that are officially recognized by Işık University (TOEFL, KPDS/ÜDS/YDS). (More information)

English Placement Test

The Placement test primarily aims to determine students' level of English knowledge. The test is 90 minutes long and assesses grammar and vocabulary knowledge and reading skill. Students who cannot pass the Placement test are directly placed in the EFL program. Those who pass the Placement test can take the Proficiency Exam.

English Proficiency Exam

The aim of the Proficiency exam is to decide whether students' level of English is adequate for academic studies in an English-medium university. The exam lasts about 4 hours and assesses reading, listening and writing skills. The exam is administered in two sessions – one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon after a lunch break.

The Işık University Proficiency Exam (PE) consists of four components:

1. Introduction (not graded)

2. Reading (25%)

3. Listening (35%)

4. Essay Writing (40%)

Being a thematic exam, all the sections are related to the same general topic.

Morning Session

1) Introduction: In the Introduction part, candidates look at the photos, read captions or brief information (if any), and answer the questions. The purpose of this part is to introduce the topic and get students to think about what is likely to appear in the sections that follow. This part of the exam is not graded.

2) Reading: In the first section, candidates read a text about the general topic (about 1300-1500 words). Then they answer 20 questions testing their comprehension of the text.

Questions Types: Multiple Choices, Matching.

Sub-Skills tested: Inference, finding referents, finding details, understanding the general purpose of the text, understanding main ideas, differentiating between facts and opinions, understanding the purpose of examples, guessing vocabulary from context.

Duration: 60 minutes

Afternoon Session

3) Listening: In this section, candidates listen to a lecture of about 1800-2,000 words, again on the same general topic. The Listening Section aims to test the candidates' note-taking skills. Because of the length of the lecture text, the lecture is divided into two parts. In the first part of the lecture, the candidates listen to the lecture and take notes. Then the candidates answer the questions for the first part of the lecture using their notes. In the second part of the lecture, which is the continuation of the first part, the same procedure is followed.

Question Types: Multiple Choices, Matching, and True / False

Sub-Skills tested: Noting down definitions, main ideas, important details, and figures; identifying the overall tone of the lecture; understanding the purpose of examples.

Duration: Lecture reading (part one and part two combined) by the lecture reader approximately takes 30 minutes. The candidates are given 13-14 minutes to answer the questions in each part.

4) Essay Writing: In the final part of the PE, candidates are tested on their ability to write an academic essay on the same general topic. They are expected to use the input from the readings and the lecture. However, they can also use their own knowledge and opinions about the given topic so long as they are well-supported.

Sub-skills tested: Use of sentence types; appropriate and accurate use of vocabulary; content development and support through examples and details; unity and coherence.

Duration: 60 minutes

Sample Exams

Exit Exam

The Exit Exam is administered three times a year, in January, June, and August. The January Exit Exam given at the end of the first semester is for Track 3 students. However, the prerequisites to take this exam include a term average of at least 70 and 90 percent attendance to lessons. All students who have not exceeded the absence limit can sit the June Exit Exam. The Exit Exam consists of three main sections: Reading, Listening and Writing. The Reading (%25) and Listening (%35) sections multiple choice type. The Writing section is made of two parts: In one part, students write a "Response Paragraph" (%15), and in the other, they write an "Essay" (%25).

Students who fail to pass the June Exit Exam have another opportunity at the end of the summer school.* If they fail again in the August Exam, they can sit the Proficiency Exam together with the new students in September. Another failure in the September Proficiency Exam means these students are resit students who need to repeat the Prep program.

The term average of all lessons makes up 50 percent of the passing grade in the Prep Program. The other 50 percent comes from the Exit Exam grade. The average of the Prep Program grade and the Exit Exam score should at least be 70, and the minimum exit exam score a student is expected to achieve is 65. The term grade is calculated by taking the average of homework assignments, quizzes, portfolios, participation and attendance, and midterms and finals.

Exemption Information

A student may be exempted from the Preparatory School Program without taking the Proficiency Exam, or Exit Exam, only if a student has received one of the following test scores from an officially accepted test centre within one year.

Undergraduate Students:

TOEFL Paper 480





Graduate Students:

TOEFL Paper 512




SFL Işık University accepts test scores only from the following Test Centers:

1. Boğaziçi University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Translation & Interpreting Studies, TOEFL Centre

2. Turkish-American Association, TOEFL IBT



*Summer school is not compulsory. Students are asked to pay tuition. However, students with scholarships are exempted the amount of their scholarships.