The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is designed to test your proficiency in the English language. Colleges in the United States require international admission applicants to submit TOEFL scores along with their application to prove that they have sufficient grasp in the English language to partake in college level education. However, many colleges have recently begun to waive the TOEFL requirement and are willing to accept other testing scores such as the IELTS, GCSE English, etc. While this provides some flexibility to prospective international students as to which English language test they should take, I personally think that taking the TOEFL is still be a very smart choice for prospective international students. A good TOEFL score is not only an important determinant in admission decisions, but also provides the following benefits outlined below.
1. TOEFL supports your F1 visa application
The TOEFL is not a mandatory requirement for obtaining an F1 visa. That being said, the visa officer will almost always want to see your scores for the TOEFL during your visa interview. This becomes more important if this is your first time going to the US for education and you are from a non English speaking country. A good TOEFL score tells the visa officer that you are a genuine student who is capable of studying in the English language. You could try substituting the TOEFL with the IELTS, GCSE but U.S. consulate officers are used to seeing the TOEFL. When I went for my visa interview, my TOEFL score was the second thing that the visa officer wanted to see after my SAT scores. Therefore, a good score on the TOEFL will strengthen your application for an F1 visa. Read 10 Commonly Asked Questions at the F-1 Visa Interview.
2. TOEFL will get you a scholarship
Many colleges in the U.S. will offer you a scholarship based on a good score on the TOEFL. Seek out these colleges and apply to them if you get a high score. Usually, the only criterion to get these scholarships is a high score on the TOEFL, unlike other scholarships for international students which are very competitive and the requirements are more than enough to make Albert Einstein cringe. The scholarships amounts are usually small in this case, but its free money.
3. Skip the ESL classes
If you do well on the TOEFL, you will not be required to take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes your first semester. Your ESL classes will automatically be waived. This will save you time and money. ESL credits are not counted towards graduation and can take up valuable time if you are required to take them. I have seen international students made to take only ESL classes their first semester, a semester that could have been spent taking classes that would actully count towards graduation. Another way to get ESL classes waived is to sit for an English test at your college, but my opinion is that these tests are more difficult than the TOEFL. So take my advice, do well on the TOEFL and say adios to those nagging ESL classes.
4. Accepted at all U.S. colleges
Although only a few colleges in the U.S. accept IELTS scores as proof of ability in the English language, almost all colleges will accept the TOEFL scores. In fact some schools exclusively look at TOEFL scores for proof of English proficiency. Therefore, if you want to apply to multiple schools, it is safe to take the TOEFL because then you will be sure that it’ll be accepted at any college in the U.S.
5. Improve your English
Believe it or not, studying for the TOEFL will actually improve your skills in the English language. The curriculum for the TOEFL is set in such a way that it’ll help you learn the English language very quickly. Your reading, writing and listening skills will improve dramatically when you start studying for the TOEFL.
So what are you waiting for? If you are a prospective international student and are yet to decide which English test to take, go ahead and take the TOEFL.
Do you see any other benefits of taking the TOEFL. Let us know in the comments below.
Filed Under: TOEFL