Proficiency Exam and Examples

The proficiency exam is a test that measures the English language proficiency of new university students to determine if they have the necessary level to study in their respective departments. The required English proficiency level varies among universities. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is accepted by all universities, but the specific score required is determined by each university.

Bilkent University, Istanbul Technical University, Middle East Technical University, and Boğaziçi University conduct their own exams. Those who wish to pass with TOEFL must achieve a minimum score of 203 in TOEFL CBT (Computer-Based Test) or 74 in TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test). Koç University, on the other hand, does not administer its own exam and considers TOEFL results.

Average University Proficiency Scoring System:

Exam OverviewContentMarks (% of total)Purpose
Reading (1 hour 30 minutes)3 parts/35 questions35%Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers, and manuals.
Writing (2 hours)2 parts20%Requires you to be able to write a variety of items, such as essays, proposals, reports, and reviews.
Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes)5 parts/35 questions45%Tests your ability to use the right words, tenses, and idioms in the right situation, at the right time.

Some Universities’ Proficiency Exams:

The proficiency exam consists of three sections. The Use of English section evaluates students’ grammar and vocabulary skills at an academic level. Students are given 4 to 5 different reading passages with blanks to fill. Four options are provided for each blank, and students must choose the correct one. There are 35 questions in this section, with each question worth 1 point, making a total of 35 points.

In the Reading section, students’ reading comprehension, interpretation, and ability to deduce the meanings of unfamiliar words are measured. They are given 3 to 4 different reading passages and are asked to answer questions related to these passages. The questions are multiple-choice and cover the main idea of the passage, specific details, students’ opinions about what is stated in the passage, and meanings of certain words. There are 30 questions in this section, and each question is worth 1.5 points, making a total of 45 points.

The Writing section assesses students’ ability to express their ideas in writing, such as essays, reports, etc. They are given three or five different essay topics and are asked to write a composition of 250-300 words on one of the topics. This section is worth 20 points.

What Do We Gain by Passing These Stages?

  1. Helps us use the language at the highest level and communicate effectively with people.
  2. Enables us to use the language confidently in our classes and seminars.
  3. Contributes to our persuasive skills in international projects and job interviews.
  4. Helps us understand written texts with complex structures.
  5. Enables us to comprehend any document and report.
  6. Allows us to express ideas confidently on complex and sensitive topics.
  7. Helps us communicate fluently in both spoken and written English.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What kinds of texts are included in the Reading section? A: Different texts with various purposes are selected from diverse sources. Generally, questions are based on contemporary and fictional/non-fictional books, extensive newspaper and magazine articles. Additionally, texts related to economics and marketing may also be included. Therefore, this section will provide an extra benefit for those who enjoy reading.

Q: What is tested in the Reading section? A: It aims to measure the understanding of the text at the word, expression, sentence, and paragraph levels. It includes the usage of words in a context (idioms, sequences, etc.), understanding details, inferences, global and general meaning, coherence, and consistency in meaning.

Q: How can I prepare for the Reading sections? A: First and foremost, you should read concise and authentic written texts. This reading can be either for pleasure or more intensive. This will familiarize you with a wide range of language and text knowledge. Regular reading practices should start at least 5-6 months before the exam. A text consists of several paragraphs, and understanding one paragraph may take some time. Regular readings, including past exam questions, will make it easier to transition between paragraphs because visual familiarity with a language is essential. Especially when reading in a different language, this becomes even more critical. For example, someone with general knowledge about a scientific experiment or the solar system will be more familiar with the texts on these topics.

Analysis of questions in the Reading section is essential. This requires professional assistance. For instance, in the Reading section:

  • Main idea, drawing conclusions, summarizing, reasoning, and interpreting are evaluated.
  • For vocabulary parts, you should study how words are used in their own meaning and synonyms. For example, finding the main idea in the last sentences of the first paragraph is needed, and determining whether the sentence structures are noun or adjective clauses requires a particular strategy. We will explain this in more detail when answering the questions.

Acquiring good question techniques will enable you to grasp and mark the questions correctly. Diverse sources of reading will help you achieve this.

How Much Time Should I Spend on the Reading Section? When preparing for the exam, adjusting the standard duration of reading sections can be more or less dependent on your ability. Some students prefer to mark their answers at the end of each section rather than waiting until the end of the time. It is essential to be careful while marking the answers on the answer sheet.

How Should Exam Preparation Be? It is worth mentioning that the foundation of all sections is based on the “Use of English,” which requires a good grasp of English grammar and vocabulary. For this purpose, students should either complete a grammar book with the help of a course or an instructor and establish connections between topics. Sometimes, a question may not only cover a single grammar topic. Therefore, establishing a relationship between grammar topics will facilitate understanding the questions. Solving past years’ questions will also familiarize you with the question types.

Vocabulary: In Turkey, it is often discussed that students have good grammar knowledge but insufficient vocabulary, which leads to difficulties in speaking or passing exams. However, this is not entirely accurate. We believe that students are not adequately trained in grammar either. Understanding English at a good level can be achieved with the right vocabulary practice. How should proper vocabulary practice be?

First, you can create a good vocabulary list. By compiling a list from past questions, you can determine which words are commonly used. However, in the long run, extensive reading is essential. You should read articles in magazines and newspapers, scientific writings, film reviews, and reports repeatedly. Eventually, students should be able to deduce some words from the context. Thus, they will make sense of the word themselves, and the general meaning of the text will also be permanent, making it easier to mark the questions.

Reading the original texts of reading passages will leave a more lasting impression than reading simplified versions. As academic English articles are read, it will be understood which words are emphasized. Vocabulary lists derived from these readings should be memorized at regular intervals. The memorization method may vary for each student.

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