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UT Austin International Office English as a Second Language Services

J-bar Information

What is the J-bar?

The J-bar is placed on certain international graduate students' records to require them to go through English screening before they can register for classes. This bar was instituted by the Graduate School to ensure that all graduate students have sufficient English proficiency to be successful in their courses. The J-bar English screening is different from the ITA English certification.

How do international students know if they have a J-bar?

When international students check in at the International Office, they will be given a slip of paper indicating whether or not they have a J-bar. The paper will also explain what they need to do to remove it. Students may also check their bars online through UT Direct.

Why are certain students given a J-bar?

There are two ways for a J-bar to be placed on a student record. The first is the automatic J-bar. This is placed on any international student record with a TOEFL below 600 PBT / 250 CBT.  For students with IBT scores, the bar will be placed on anyone with a speaking and/or writing score below 23.  For students with IELTS scores, the bar will placed on anyone with a speaking and/or writing score below 6.  Students who do not submit English Language test scores at the time of admission will also be given a j-bar.

The second way for a J-bar to appear on a student record is for a department to contact ESL Services and ask that a J-bar be placed on a particular student.

How is the J-bar removed?

In order to remove a J-bar, international students must go through an English screening, which is done by ESL Services' faculty in the International Office. This screening is done at the start of each semester, during the same time frame that the International Office does new international student check in. Click here to schedule a J-bar screening

The screening consists of a 30-minute essay and a 15-minute oral interview. After the screening is done, the results are discussed with the students and they are informed whether there is a requirement for further coursework in English.   If English classes are required, then information on those classes is provided to the students, and a copy of the requirement is sent to the students' individual departments.

Once the students have participated in the screening, the J-bar is removed or waived. If requirements for additional English coursework are not fulfilled, the J-bar appears again for the following semester. Coursework requirements must be fulfilled within the first year of graduate study.