Grammar/Usage Proficiency Descriptors

Pre–Level 1
Although students scoring at Pre-Level 1 may have some limited knowledge of English grammar and usage, they have provided insufficient evidence that they possess the skills typical of Level 1 students.
Level 1

Students at Level 1 typically can recognize simple present tense, plurals, correct word order in simple sentences, and simple pronominal references.

Sample Question

Level 2
Students at Level 2 typically can recognize correct structuring of simple sentences using a variety of tenses including simple past and present, future, past and present continuous, and high-frequency irregular verbs.

They also typically can recognize correct word order in statements, imperatives, simple yes-no questions, some Wh-questions, and sentences with simple relative clauses.

Level 2 students know many of the conventions of capitalization and punctuation. They recognize correct uses of the basic auxiliary system, time markers, and appropriate end-of-sentence punctuation.

Sample Question

Level 3
Students at Level 3 typically can recognize high-frequency uses of the present perfect and past perfect tenses and correct uses of most regular and irregular verbs, simple modal verbs, passive verbs, and participial adjectives.

They can select correctly structured compound sentences as well as complex sentences using subordinating conjunctions. They can correct the punctuation in many run-on sentences or sentence fragments within a context.

They can often recognize correct uses of gerunds, infinitives, and conditional clauses.

Level 3 students can select appropriate transition words to join clauses and sentences, and they can recognize unnecessary shifts in construction and lack of parallelism at the word and phrase level.

They can select correct uses of subordinate clauses, and they can recognize and correct some errors in more abstract kinds of writing, including prose intended for academic or occupational needs.

Sample Question

Level 4
Students at Level 4 typically can select correct uses of nearly all the verb forms of English. They can recognize unnecessary shifts in construction at the clause level.

They can recognize accurate relationships among clauses and correctly formed interactions among verb tenses in related clauses.

They can recognize correct word order, agreement, and the complex relationships between and among clauses at a near-native level, including correct uses of coordinating, subordinating, and correlative conjunctions, appropriate transition words, and various other cohesive devices at the level of discourse, not just at the clause or sentence level.

They can select correct punctuation related to meaning.

Level 4 students recognize formal and informal registers, know when language is appropriate for a given context or situation, and understand how meaning can change with context.

Low-frequency uses of language may still cause problems even for these advanced students.

Sample Question