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Do I Need to Take the TOEFL to Apply to U.S. Universities?

Emily Toffelmire

Written by Emily Toffelmireon April 1st, 2017

I came to College Coach after working for many years in college admissions and high school counseling. As a school counselor, I assisted students in the college application process and wrote hundreds of letters of recommendation, while also helping them and their families cope with any emotional, social, and academic concerns throughout the year. I transitioned from the high school setting to the admissions office when I joined the University of Southern California as an assistant director, reading freshmen and transfer applications and collaborating on admission decisions for over 150 majors, including the liberal arts, engineering, business, cinema, and the fine and performing arts. I subsequently took on the role of senior assistant director in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, where I coordinated the division's Mork, Stamps, Trustee, Presidential and Dean's merit scholarship selection process, as well as recruitment publications and outreach, and traveled everywhere from Honolulu to Miami presenting to and interviewing hundreds of applicants each year.
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The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test that measures the English skills of non-native speakers. The Internet-based test consists of reading, writing, speaking, and listening sections, while the less common paper-based test covers only reading, writing, and listening. Most U.S. universities will expect you to take the TOEFL if you are a non-native speaker residing in a country where English is not the primary language. Even if you attend an English-language high school, many universities still expect you to take the TOEFL. If you dread adding another standardized test to your schedule, keep in mind that many U.S. universities will waive the TOEFL requirement if you do well on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT or the English section of the ACT. The definition of “doing well” varies school to school (think 600+ for the SAT portion and 27+ for the ACT), so be sure to check the international admission page for any university or college you’re considering. In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a similar test you’ll most likely see required by British, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand institutions. However, many U.S. universities will also accept the IELTS. If you’re planning to apply to schools in these countries as well as the U.S., the IELTS may be a more practical choice over the TOEFL, as you could take and submit one test rather than two. Contact-Us-CTA


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