Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the ALI office located?

The ALI office is located at 649 West 34th Street.  The office is located on the first floor of the Royal Street Structure in Room 106. The Royal Street Structure was formerly named Parking Structure D or PSD. The office entrance is off of W 34th Street. There is no entrance from Jefferson Blvd. 


What is a Continuing Registration Requirement at USC?

If your admission letter states that you have a continuing registration requirement, it means that you must satisfy a certain requirement before you register for classes.  One of these requirements may have to do with English proficiency. If you have the ALI 01 restriction, it means that you need to take the International Student English (ISE) Exam before registering for classes. You should take the ISE Exam as soon as possible since you will not be able to register until you receive your ISE Exam results. For information regarding the University’s English language proficiency requirement for admission into an undergraduate or graduate program, please visit the sites below.

Who is Exempt From Taking the ISE Exam?

Students who meet certain conditions may not be required to take the ISE Exam.

If you meet one of the conditions and still have an ALI-01 hold, please email with your name and USC ID number from your USC email account.

How do I send my TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test scores?

Students must send their scores electronically through the testing service for scores to be considered official. Photocopies or paper copies of scores are not acceptable.

TOEFL: USC’s institution code is 4852. No department code is required.

IELTS: Select “University of Southern California” from the list of available institutions when you register to take the IELTS test. Alternatively, provide this information to your testing center after you have taken the test. Contact information for the USC department to which you are applying is not required.

PTE: Select “University of Southern California” from the list of available institutions when you register to take the PTE Academic test. Alternatively, provide this information to your testing center after you have taken the test. Contact information for the USC department to which you are applying is not required.


What is the ISE Exam?

The ISE Exam is a free placement exam given to determine the English proficiency of international students. After taking the ISE Exam, students are either “released” from any ALI requirement or will receive an ALI placement.

The ISE Exam is a two-part exam:

  1. Written Portion: Students have 50 minutes to complete a written exam on a given topic.
  2. Oral Interview: Students are interviewed by 2 raters for approximately 12-15 minutes.

Both parts of the test are graded on a scale of 0-7. Students who score 6 or above will not be required to take ALI courses. The oral interview may be on a different day than the written portion. You will be given information about the time of your oral interview when you take the written portion.

What should I bring to the ISE Exam?

In order to take the ISE exam, you will need to bring your USCard, passport, or other official ID with your picture and signature. Additionally, students will be required to bring a LockDown Browser enabled device to type their essays.

Exam results will be emailed to your USC email account within 1-3 business days after you complete the exam.

How do I sign up for the ISE Exam?

You can sign up for the ISE Exam at

If I can’t come to the ISE Exam on the date that is on the website, what should I do?

If you cannot attend the ISE Exam that is currently posted on the website, you may check back on or after that test date for additional tests. We recommend that you take it as soon as possible because you will not be able to register for any classes until after you receive your ISE Exam results.

I signed up for the ISE Exam but now my plans have changed and I can’t make it. What should I do?

Please email with your USC ID number to be removed from the exam. You may check back on or after that test date to sign up for the next exam.


I am a new international student. How do I register with an ALI-01 hold?

  1. Make sure your USC email account has been activated so we can email your exam results. If you haven’t activated your email account yet, go to and click on “Activate your USC NetID”.
  2. Take the ISE Exam.
  3. After taking the exam, you will receive an email with your test results and further instructions.
  4. You can then visit USC Web Registration to register for classes.
  5. Before registering online you may need to clear any other registration restrictions you have and see an advisor in your department.

Why do I have an ALI restriction even though I already took the ISE Exam/ITA Exam and I am registered in an ALI course?

All students who have an ALI requirement will continue to have the ALI restriction until the requirement is satisfied. During registration, the restriction will be temporarily removed so that students can use web registration to register for their ALI courses, as well as their major courses. Students will be notified by email when this happens and will be given a deadline by which they must register for all their courses. After this deadline, students with an ALI requirement will see the ALI hold back on their account.

If you need to add or drop a class after your ALI hold reappears on your account, you may do the following:

  • If you need to add or drop a non-ALI class, email USC Registrar One Stop via their contact page. Your email must be sent from your USC email account and must include your student ID number and the 5 digit section numbers of the classes you want to add or drop. All requests will be processed by their staff as soon as possible during normal business hours.
  • If you would like to add or drop an ALI course, please email


When must I take required ALI courses?

ALI courses must be taken starting the first semester and continued each semester thereafter until all required course(s) are completed.  ALI courses cannot be deferred. ALI courses are taken concurrently with major courses.

How much do ALI courses cost?

ALI classes are billed at the regular USC tuition rate.

How many ALI courses do I need to take?

The number of ALI classes you need to take will depend on your English proficiency level which will be determined from the ISE Exam. Your writing and oral skills will be evaluated when you take the ISE Exam. You may be placed in a writing and/or oral skills class. After taking the required ALI course, you may have another course assigned or be released from ALI courses.

It’s after the first week of class and I want to change sections. Can I change sections since I have until the add/drop deadline to do so?

Given the nature of the curriculum and the format of ALI classes, joining a section after the first week of the semester places a student at a severe disadvantage in terms of the goals and requirements of the course. For this reason, requests to change sections after the first week are usually denied. On the basis of extraordinary circumstances, a student may initiate an exception request to the ALI Advisor ( Such requests require both administrative and instructor approval.


Where do I go if I have questions about my I-20, Visa, or Immigration Status?

Please visit the Office of International Services (OIS) for more information.

For additional advisement, the ALI Advisor is available to help with any questions. You may email