Student sitting in class.

The Iowa Intensive English Program offers four courses: Reading, Writing, Grammar, and Communication Skills. See course descriptions below. Students on F-1 visas must take all four classes.

Course Placement

Upon registering in the IIEP, students are given a placement exam to determine their proficiency in English. Assignments to levels of instruction are based upon the results of this exam. The IIEP placement test has three parts:

  • a 10-minute oral interview with two ESL teachers
  • a 30-minute writing sample
  • a multiple-choice reading test. It has 44 items and takes 50 minutes.

You will receive your placement results when you receive your class schedule, two days after you take the test. Based on the results of the test, you will be placed in the appropriate level for each of your classes. If you think that your placement in any class is not correct, go to the IIEP office in 1112 UCC and ask for a form to request a level change. Your teacher will assess your performance in class during the first week. The director and the faculty will meet to discuss student placements and make changes the following week. You will be notified by either your teacher or the director the day following the meeting if your level will be changed.

Progress from Level to Level

Continuing students do not take a placement exam at the start of the semester. Continuing students will move to the next level if they:

  • Score 70% or higher on their final assessment (exam) in each of their classes and
  • Earn a course grade point.average of 2.0 (C average) with no grade below C-. 

Continuing students will be registered for the next semester within a week of completing the current semester. Once you are registered, you are responsible for all tuition and fees.

Completion of the Program

If you are placed in the advanced level, you will be preparing to begin your academic program. Standardized test scores (such as TOEFL and IELTS) will not be used for IIEP students to move on to the University. To begin study, all IIEP students who are academically admissible or are conditionally admitted to The University of Iowa, must successfully complete IIEP. It is possible to complete the program from either Level E2 or Level P, depending on grades.

Graduate admission requirements and decisions are made by individual departments. The ESL Programs Director is happy to write letters evaluating students' English language proficiency and making recommendations regarding readiness for academic work.

While the duration of intensive English study required for an individual student varies depending on personal motivation, level of proficiency, and aptitude, we estimate the following IIEP completion timeline:

  • Students starting intensive English studies at the beginning level will typically acquire sufficient proficiency to begin academic work after three to four terms in the IIEP.
  • Intermediate students usually require two to three terms.
  • Advanced students normally require one term.

At the end of the program, the IIEP issues a Certificate of Attendance to students who have attended 95% of their classes and have received passing grades.

Course Descriptions

Communication Skills, 0 semester hours

This course provides a link between the classroom and the community. The course focuses on three areas: aural comprehension; spoken English; and American attitudes, values, and customs. The first two areas provide practice in giving and receiving information. The addition of the third area is based on the belief that students learn a language more quickly in a comfortable, familiar environment. Through interviews with Americans and discussions in class, students begin to understand and accept cultural differences and to have positive feelings toward American culture.

Reading, 0 semester hours

The IIEP reading curriculum is designed to be comprehensive and to help students become effective readers. To this end, students are taught a variety of skills and are given an opportunity to practice many strategies while reading different kinds of written material (newspapers, magazines, schedules, documents, textbooks, correspondence, literature, etc.). Learning by doing is emphasized, and an eclectic teaching approach is employed.

Grammar, 0 semester hours

The emphasis in grammar class is on the correct use of the grammatical structures of English. Students learn the grammar in a systematic and logical way and then practice extensively to meet the goal of communicative competence in English.

Writing, 0 semester hours

In the writing course, students do personal and academic writing. Throughout the semester, students have a chance to experiment with a variety of forms of writing, from journal entries and letters to critiques, essay examinations, and short papers that involve use of the library. Students read and respond to each other's writing, and in the process become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as writers. They learn to revise and edit their papers as they learn how to express their ideas as clearly as they can.

Classes are 50 or 75 minutes long. Students receive official grades (A-F) for each of their courses. These grades are recorded on an official University of Iowa transcript.

For more details on the student learning outcomes at each level, see this document.