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If English is not a student’s native language, TCC requires the student to take the English as a Second Language (ESL) placement test. Results from the ESL placement test must demonstrate ability to benefit from study at the college.

If the placement test results indicate that the student needs ESL instruction, then the student must successfully complete the required ESL courses before enrolling in non-ESL courses.


TCC offers an extensive ESL program consisting of four levels: Intermediate I and II, Advanced, and Bridge.


Students whose first language is not English can demonstrate English proficiency in one of the following ways:

    •    Paper TOEFL score of 550.

    •    Computer-based TOEFL score of 213.

    •    Internet based TOEFL (iTB) score of 80.

    •    ACT Verbal (Writing and Reading) score of 21 or higher.

    •    SAT Critical Reading score of 500 or higher.

    •    Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) grade of A, B, or C.

    •    British “O” Level English pass (grade A-C)

•   Possession of an American degree (associate, bachelor, or master) or the equivalent from an accredited institution located in a country where English is the native language.

•   Successful completion of one college-level English course at a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This course must be equivalent to Tidewater Community College’s English Composition I (ENG 111). Successful completion is defined as obtaining a grade of C (2.0) or higher.

•   Successful completion of Tidewater Community College’s ESL bridge courses.

ESL courses are offered at the Virginia Beach Campus. ESL placement testing is available at all four campuses.


Students may be exempt from placement testing based on the following scores on the ACT or SAT college entrance exams, provided the scores are less than three years old:

    •    ACT Verbal (Writing and Reading), minimum score 21

    •    ACT Mathematics, minimum score 21

    •    SAT Critical Reading, minimum score 500

    •    SAT Mathematics, minimum score 500