How colleges test international student’s English skills

The Exam of English as a Foreign Language, generally referred to as the TOEFL, is a standardized exam of English language expertise for nonnative English language speakers. This and the International English Language Testing System, also known as IELTS, are two of the most popular standardized exams for English expertise that several international students will need to take before applying for a university or college in the U.S.

IELTS and TOEFL are different from the ACT and SAT because those are comprehensive exams aimed to measure readiness for university. For the majority of international students, TOEFL is just one type of the application – but many universities are realizing that neither IELTS nor TOEFL or, for that matter, any standardized exam is the end-all predictor of a student’s achievement.

International students and their parents should know about English proficiency exams. What students’ choices are should the student not score well.

I recommend that all international nonnative English speaking students take the IELTS and TOEFL because the majority of universities still require one or the other or have a requirement for any English proficiency exam, in which case these exams are a good option. But the student must understand that universities will also evaluate the strength of the student’s high school activities and curriculum outside of school.

Take your exam early, just as you would any other standardized exam, to notice how well you score. Students might feel that they are English expert because they have studied English since day one in school, but their English may be more limited than they understand because they haven’t really spoken English often.

Taking the exam early will allow students to evaluate how expert they truly are and whether they want to address their expertise in other ways.

Some universities require interviews for international students to judge a student’s speaking capability. If you did score well on the critical reading part of the SAT and you are taking English as an A-level class, we could create an exemption for that student to give us the IELTS and TOEFL.

Not all universities review applications and scores the same way. Larger universities may not be able to dig into all of the points of an application since they get such a large amount of applications. Thus, some universities may require a very precise score and not review other qualities.

Some universities may also admit a student temporarily if the student agrees to enter that university English as a Second Language or ESL program, which could take a year, a semester and even a summer. An English Second Language program could give you vast insight to life at that university before full-time enrollment.

One more option for international students who need to enhance their English proficiency is an English language bridge program. Several universities or institutions offer bridge programs for nonnative English speakers who have met the university admissions requirements except for SAT and TOEFL scores that fall below the required level.

I recommend students who fit this group to get a bridge program that combines credit-bearing educational courses through courses in English. The English course may not provide credit, but it should give students with the proper coaching in reading and writing to convince the English proficiency requirement.

Finally, the universities international admissions staff should be able to walk the applicant through the process and choices for English Second Language or bridge programs that meet the student’s individual needs financially and academically. Read on for more information and tips on Expertsmind regarding your learning method, IELTS and TOEFL exam.


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