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English Proficiency Assessment

Some applicants are required to successfully complete an English language proficiency assessment to determine their eligibility to meet Sheridan’s admission requirements. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the assessment as well as some sample assessment questions.

Click here for more information about the English Proficiency Assessment and/or sample assessment questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the English Proficiency Assessment?

The English Proficiency Assessment is an assessment instrument used at Sheridan to evaluate the English language proficiency of applicants who have applied for admission to Sheridan programs.

The English Proficiency Assessment consists of the Institutional CanTEST for Reading and Listening, and a Sheridan-developed Writing Assessment.

The results of the English Proficiency Assessment administered at Sheridan are non-transferable and can be used exclusively for the purpose of admission to Sheridan programs. The results that you receive cannot be reported to any other institution.

Why do I need to take the English Proficiency Assessment?

Some applicants to Sheridan’s programs are required to complete the English Proficiency Assessment to determine if they meet the admission requirements. The Admissions Office will send a letter to the applicants who must take the English Proficiency Assessment.

Applicants who have valid TOEFL or IELTS results which meet the admission requirements may be exempt from taking the English Proficiency Assessment. Applicants who choose not to take the English Proficiency Assessment and whose first language is not English would meet the language requirement for most Sheridan postsecondary programs by completing the General Arts and Science –English Language Studies –English for Academic Purposes program.

What is the assessment fee?

A fee of $45 is charged for the English Proficiency Assessment (EPA). The fee may be paid at the Assessment Centre with debit only.

What do I need to bring?

  •   Government issued photo ID
  •   Letter from the Admissions Office 
  •   Proof of fee payment from the Registration Office 
  •   Pens, pencils, eraser 
Do not bring electronic devices (e.g. cell phones) or printed materials such as dictionaries or notes

Where and when can I take the English Proficiency Assessment?

  • EPA exam can be written in one of our Assessment Centre locations  - Trafalgar Campus (BB26), Hazel McCallion Campus (A246) or Davis Campus (B117)
  • You can register for the assessment by logging in here:
  • If this is your first time using Sheridan's online booking system, you will need to register here:
  • Please allow 3 hours to take the English Proficiency Assessment. 
  • If you must take a Math or Science assessment in addition to the English Proficiency Assessment, the additional assessment may be booked for a different day, if you choose. 

How will I know the results of my English Proficiency Assessment?

The English Proficiency Assessment results are communicated to the Admissions Office and are viewable through myStudent Centre within 5 days. You will then receive communication from the Admissions Office regarding your status, usually within two weeks of your English Proficiency Assessment.

The results of the English Proficiency Assessment administered at Sheridan are non-transferable and are used exclusively for the purpose of admission to Sheridan programs.

What English language skills does the English Proficiency Assessment measure?

The English Proficiency Assessment measures three skills: Reading, Listening and Writing.

The Reading and Listening skills are assessed through the Institutional CanTEST. The Writing skills are tested through a Sheridan-developed Writing assessment.

Each Assessment section is described briefly below.

Institutional CanTEST Reading

The Reading section consists of two parts: Reading Comprehension, and Skimming and Scanning. 

Reading Comprehension requires that you read three passages of 400-700 words, and answer multiple-choice and short-answer questions about them. You will also complete a cloze section where you will choose the correct words to fill in the blanks in a passage. You will have 50 minutes to complete the Reading Comprehension part. 

Skimming and Scanning requires that you read quickly to find specific information in texts such as newspapers, university calendars, web pages, and bibliographies. You will have 10 minutes to complete 15 questions. There may be two types of questions: short answer and multiple choice. 

Institutional CanTEST Listening

In the Listening section you will listen, first, to three short dialogues and, second, to three longer passages; the passages last from about one to five minutes. Each passage is followed by questions that are multiple choice or that require a short answer. In the first part of the Listening section, you will hear the short dialogues only once. For this section, the questions are recorded and are not printed in the test booklet; you will only see the answer choices. In the second part of the Listening test, you will hear each of the three passages twice. 

The Listening section includes 40 questions and lasts 50 minutes. 

Sheridan Writing Assessment

In the Writing section, you will write a 300-350 word composition on a topic which will be given to you. The time limit for this section is 45 minutes. 

Note: For information about the Official CanTEST, you can visit their website at   

What topics appear in the English Proficiency Assessment?

All Institutional CanTEST Reading and Listening material is taken from real documents such as newspapers, magazines, textbooks, and radio broadcasts. Topic areas include: agriculture, medicine, engineering, history, and education. All the texts are intended for the general reader/listener. You do not have to be a specialist in any of these fields to answer the questions.

In the Writing Assessment, essay topics are general and do not require specific knowledge. 

How can I prepare for the English Proficiency Assessment?

Attend an English Proficiency Assessment information session. Sessions are held every week.

    Visit for further details on available information sessions.

    You can practice using the samples available in the English Proficiency Assessment Sample Test and Essay Questions
    Applicants who have been invited to write the English Proficiency Assessment may book a practice test at the Assessment Centre through Bookings must be made at least 1 day in advance. On the day of the practice test, please bring photo ID as well as the testing letter or email from Admissions. Applicants will practice all sections except for the essay.

    If you are unable to practice at the Assessment Centre, the Practice CanTEST Reading and Listening test material are available for purchase for $30 at the Assessment Centre. We recommend that you contact the Assessment Centre first to inquire if stock is available. Payment is to be made using a Canadian debit card only.
     A course in academic English would also be good preparation for the English Proficiency Assessment.

    What do the English Proficiency Assessment scores look like?

    The Reading and Listening scores, called Bands, tell you your level from 1 to 5. Please see below for Band descriptions.

    In Writing, your composition is evaluated by a trained assessor according to Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) on the scale from 5 to 9. Please see below for Writing CLB descriptions.

    Based on your English Proficiency Assessment scores, the assessor may recommend eligibility for admission to:

    •   1 Year Certificate or 2-3 Year Diploma program 
    •   Graduate Certificate or Bachelor Degree program 
    •   English as a Second Language program 
    •   English for Academic Purposes program 
    •   Academic Upgrading program 

    What scores do I need to pass?

    For entrance to a 2-3 Year Diploma Program and/or to a 1 Year Certificate Program, the minimum language requirement is a score of Band 4.0 in the Listening and Reading sections, and a CLB 7 in the Writing section. For entrance to a Graduate Certificate Program and/or Bachelor Degree, the minimum language requirement is a score of Band 4.5 or better in the Listening and Reading sections, and a CLB 8 or better in the Writing section. 

    Based on rough guidelines, you must answer 60-65% of questions correctly to achieve Band 4, and 70-75% of questions to achieve Band 4.5.

    If I don’t pass, what are my options?

    Students who do not pass their English Proficiency Assessment may choose to enroll in the English as a Second Language program at Sheridan. You may also choose to take the English Proficiency Assessment again. English Proficiency Assessment re-takes are allowed after three months. The test fee applies.

    Descriptions of Band Levels: CanTEST Listening and Reading

    5.0 Very Good User:
    Very good command of the English language, even in demanding contexts; high degree of comprehension; only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriateness in communication, which very rarely impede communication. Level of proficiency is acceptable for full time academic study. 

    4.0 Competent User:
    Generally effective command of the English language in fairly demanding contexts, with a satisfactory level of comprehension. Some inaccuracy and misunderstanding in less familiar contexts with more complex language. Weaknesses exist which sometimes impede communication, and could affect performance in an academic program. Additional language training would be helpful to improve accuracy, speed, and overall proficiency. 

    3.0 Limited User:
    Fair command of the English language only in familiar language contexts or in interactions with a sympathetic speaker; limited comprehension; markedly reduced effectiveness in demanding and unfamiliar situations. Systematic inaccuracies and misunderstandings significantly impede communication and comprehension; additional language training is required before being considered for academic placement. 

    2.0 Very Basic User:
    Some ability to function in highly contextualized, familiar situations, but no real command of the English language; frequent breakdowns in communication. 

    1.0 Novice:
    Extremely limited command of the English language. 
    Please note that half-bands (e.g. 4.5) are awarded where a candidate’s performance exceeds that described in one band but does not fully meet the next higher level 

    Descriptions of CLB Levels: Canadian Language Benchmarks – Writing

    CLB 5 
    Main ideas are difficult to distinguish from supporting details; support provided is not adequate; uses many awkward sounding expressions. There is no clear progression of ideas and the message is difficult to follow. Demonstrates control of simple and compound sentence structures and has frequent difficulty with complex sentence structures; uses simple vocabulary and may have major problems with spelling and punctuation. 

    CLB 6
    Introduces ideas and supports them with some details. There is some awkwardness in expression; arguments may not be clear. Writing causes strain for the reader and the message comes through and can be followed, but often with difficulty. Demonstrates good control of simple and compound sentence structures and is developing ability to use complex sentence structures. Uses basic vocabulary; word choice may be inappropriate; may have problems with spelling and punctuation. 

    CLB 7
    Expresses main ideas and supports them with appropriate details; generally presents a clear point of view with only occasional lapses. There is occasional strain for the reader, yet control of organizational patterns is evident (for example, uses introduction, development and conclusion); uses basic connectors to organize ideas. Demonstrates use of complex sentence structures, with occasional difficulty and demonstrates adequate vocabulary for topic; some errors in word choice and word formation; accurate spelling and punctuation; errors are minor and slightly intrusive. 

    CLB 8
    Expresses main ideas clearly and provides appropriate detailed support; ideas and evidence are generally relevant (only minor isolated problems); conveys a sense of audience although there may be inappropriate use of style and formality. Provides introduction, development and conclusion; has good control of paragraph structure; uses appropriate logical connectors. Demonstrates control of greater ranger of complex sentence structures with occasional difficulty and demonstrates adequate range of vocabulary; some errors in word choice and word formation. Demonstrates accurate spelling and punctuation; makes few spelling errors. 

    CLB 9
    Conveys main ideas and supports them with convincing detail; clearly states and argues a position; has developed a sense of audience, using appropriate style and formality throughout. Presents text as a coherent and developed whole; uses wide range of logical connectors to achieve coherence within and across paragraphs. Demonstrates control of a range of complex and diverse sentence structures; uses an expanded range of vocabulary accurately and flexibly; errors in word combinations still occur; grammatical and occasional spelling errors may still occur. 

    Helpful Hints

    1. Get a good night’s sleep before the assessment. Arrive at the Assessment Centre a few minutes before your appointment. 
    2. Don’t let the thought of writing an assessment make you too nervous, although a little nervousness is natural and even helpful. 
    3. At the Assessment Centre, when the Assessment Centre Specialist is explaining the instructions for the assessment, listen carefully and follow all instructions. 
    4. Ask questions if anything is unclear; the Assessment Centre Specialist is there for that purpose. 
    5. Most questions in the Institutional CanTEST are in a multiple choice format. You will be required to choose the best answer to a question from several choices. You may mark an answer even if you are not perfectly sure it is right. The Sheridan Writing Assessment is in essay format. 
    6. If one question is too hard, leave it and go on to the next. 
    7. If you come to a section in the assessment that you cannot do, don’t give up on the entire assessment. There may be parts further on which are easier for you. Keep working. 
    8. Work steadily and complete as many questions as you can.
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