Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Health Sciences First Year Diagnostic English test

The 2019 Health Sciences English Diagnostic Test will be held on Thursday 21 February in the St David Lecture Theatre.

Please attend the appropriate session:

9:00am - 10:00am = For students with surnames starting with A-F
11:00am - 12:00 noon = For students with surnames starting with G-L
2:00pm - 3:00pm = For students with surnames starting with M-R
3:30pm - 4:30pm = For students with surnames starting with S-Z

Note: Students not attending their given time slot may be turned away.

Results notifications will be sent via Otago University student email only. Please do not forward emails to another account, as this does not always work with the University system.

Frequently asked questions

^ Top of page

What is the Health Sciences English Diagnostic Test?

The test is designed to identify students who will benefit from added instruction in spoken and written communication skills in order to progress through the demanding Health Sciences professional programmes.

The test reflects what is considered the minimum expectations for reading, writing and/or comprehension skills at a university level according to the standards set by Health Sciences and the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago.

It is not designed as a gatekeeping exercise to keep people out of the programme. Rather, it is designed to identify a potential need for help early on (please see more on this under What happens if I do not pass?).

^ Top of page

Who must take it?

The test is required for all first-year students enrolled, enrolling or planning to enrol in Health Sciences programmes.

^ Top of page

Where is the test held exactly?

In the St David Lecture Theatre, which is located on the Dunedin Campus.

^ Top of page

What must I bring?

You must bring a blue pen and your Student ID. If you do not have your Student ID yet, you must bring some form of photo ID.

^ Top of page

What is the structure of the test?

There are three sections of the test, each worth 10 points for a total of 30 possible points. The duration of the test is approximately 50 minutes. The content of the sections is as follows:

I. Reading Comprehension. Students will read a short article and write a short answer in complete sentences to 5 questions. A complete sentence starts with a capital letter, ends with a full-stop, and includes a clear subject and verb.

II. Listening Comprehension. Students will listen to 5 short scenarios and answer a question about each one.

III. Written Communication. Students will read a short article then choose one of two essay questions and write a brief essay (approximately 200 words).

^ Top of page

What is the pass mark?

You must score 18/30 or 60 percent in order to pass.

^ Top of page

Are there copies of the test available from previous years?

No. But students wishing to prepare should focus on following instructions carefully and being able to respond to written and spoken material clearly and concisely.

^ Top of page

How do we find out our results?

You will receive an email notification approximately 3 weeks after you have sat the test advising you of your result and giving you clear instructions on how to proceed if you do not pass. This email will be sent to your university email address, so it is essential that you check this address.

^ Top of page

What happens if I do not pass?

Students who do not pass the test will have an opportunity to re-sit the test near the end of the first semester, on Monday, 13 May 2019 at 7pm in the St David Lecture Theatre

The re-sit is structured the same way as the first test.

Students who do not pass this second test will be required to enrol in ENGL 126 English for University Purposes.


You can enrol directly in and pass ENGL 126 during Semester Two. This paper is designed to provide students with the writing and speaking skills necessary to succeed at a university level. The majority of students who enrol in and complete this paper pass it.

Students who do not pass the English Diagnostic Test or ENGL 126 will not be eligible to apply for admission into Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine, Pharmacy or Physiotherapy via the Health Sciences First Year Category.

^ Top of page

Where can I get additional help?

We recommend the services of The Student Learning Centre. Phone 479-8801 or go to

^ Top of page

Will I be able to see my script after the results are released?

Yes. Students who do not pass the test can view the test script in the Department of English and Linguistics reception area (located in the Arts Building Level One) between the hours of 11.00am and 4.00pm. They must return the script when they have finished viewing it.

^ Top of page

What kind of feedback can I expect?

Feedback is provided on the Writing Section of the scripts as follows:

SC = general problems with Sentence Construction
P = general problems with Punctuation
VT = general problems with Verb Tenses and Verb Use
SP = general problems with Spelling
S&O = general problems with Structure and Organisation
(and the overall presentation of ideas)

Errors on the other sections will be indicated by the markers.

^ Top of page

What if I have a question about my test result?

You must contact Dr Michael Cop via email at in the first instance.

^ Top of page

How do I enrol in ENGL 126?

Enrolment in this course is NOT automatic. Details on how to add second semester papers can be found here:

^ Top of page

What if I have not passed all of my Semester One papers?

If you have not passed all your Semester One papers, you may need to contact Course Approval Staff to discuss your options.

^ Top of page

Who can I contact if I have not found what I need here?

You can contact Dr Michael Cop via email at in the first instance if you have further questions about the test.