English Proficiency Testing

Most schools require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL tests your proficiency in English reading and writing. You may also be required to take the Test of Spoken English (TSE), which tests your speaking ability. Most schools require a score of at least 500 on the TOEFL exam for admission (700 on the new computer-based TOEFL). A score of 600 or better will be required for fields which require a higher English language proficiency, such as journalism or literature, or at the more selective schools.

Some schools use other tests of English language proficiency, such as the MTELP, TOEIC, IELTS, and Cambridge EFL. Others may accept completion of the advanced level of their own intensive English program in lieu of the TOEFL. But chances are you’ll have to take the TOEFL.

Some schools offer on-campus English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and will admit you to these programs without requiring the TOEFL exam. If you score high enough on the TOEFL exam after completing the ESL program they will admit you to the regular academic program. It is often much less expensive to study English in your home country and take the TOEFL there than to participate in a school’s ESL program.

Before considering an ESL or intensive English program, it is best to take the TOEFL. It will help you determine how much additional study you need to qualify for admission.

After you arrive on campus, you will probably have to take the school’s own English proficiency examination. Based on your score on this exam, they may require you to take special classes to improve your English speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills. They may also have courses designed to help you learn how to write technical English in your chosen field of study, improve your study skills, and teach you job interview skills.

Information about the TOEFL can be obtained by calling 1-800-GO-TOEFL (1-800-468-6335) or 1-609-771-7100 (TTY 1-800-529-3590 or 1-609-734-9362), fax 1-609-771-7500, sending email to toefl@ets.org, or writing to TOEFL, PO Box 6152, Princeton, NJ 08541-6152 USA.