The English Language Institute (ELI) is a service unit of the Department of Second Language Studies, whose primary purpose is to help degree-seeking students at UHM, both graduate and undergraduate, improve their English. Graduate Division Student Services sends to the ELI a list of admitted international students who intend to enroll at UHM. Upon arrival, newly admitted international students who do not meet the exemptions below, need to report to the institute which evaluates the students’ level of proficiency in English. Students are not permitted to register for classes, until the evaluation is complete.


The following international students are exempted from the ELI placement test:

  • Native speakers of English.
  • International students who received a TOEFL score of 600/100 (paper/Internet) or IELTS score of 7.0 or above.
  • International students who received a GRE verbal score of 460 or above.
  • International students who have received within the last five years a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree from an accredited/recognized college in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, or Ireland.

Placement Tests

Evaluation of students’ English proficiency is based on TOEFL and ELI Placement Tests (ELIPT). The ELI administers the three-hour ELIPT and uses the results for ELI clearance and course placement purposes. Tests are scheduled at the beginning of each semester and summer session. Seating is limited so students are advised to sign up immediately upon arrival on campus. In the case of a student who has not taken the TOEFL because of extenuating circumstances, evaluation is made solely on the basis of the ELI test battery. The ELIPT measures the following:

  • ability to read academic texts with understanding and reasonable speed,
  • vocabulary proficiency,
  • ability to understand academic lectures in English, and
  • facility in written self-expression.

Courses and Registration

The ELI strives to serve the individual needs of the students. ELI offers courses in listening comprehension, reading of academic materials, and writing with special emphasis on the preparation of term papers and similar reports. Registration for ELI courses in the fall and spring semesters is limited to students who have been officially admitted to the university. Students may not apply to the Graduate Division for the sole purpose of entering the English Language Institute in order to improve their English. Except under unusual circumstances, students may not audit ELI courses. They must complete all ELI courses within the first year of study at the university.

Students enrolled in ELI courses take a reduced regular academic course load, so that they may devote enough attention to to gaining satisfactory competence in English. The amount of course load reduction is proportionate to the amount of time required by the assigned ELI course(s). Those required to take a relatively large number of ELI courses should expect to make proportionately slower progress in their regular academic program.

Back To Top