Are English Language Proficiency Tests Necessary?
You may be familiar with acronyms such as IELTS and TOEFL, especially if you are planning on applying to colleges in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. These English Language Proficiency Tests are one of the many documents and test scores that colleges require you to send along with your application. The score indicates that you can read, write and understand advanced English and will be able to cope with university-level instruction and discourse.
Even though it may seem obvious that you will be able to cope, especially if you studied an international board, have attended an English medium school or college, or have studied abroad. However, it is still worth taking this test for the following four reasons:
Some colleges have a blanket policy for all international students:
While most colleges might recognise your high school or college curriculum and waive the TOEFL or IELTS requirement, there could be an odd college on your list that demands it. Some colleges have standardised policies for all international students. For example, The University of Maryland’s policy is that if you do not hold a degree from a US institution or from an English-speaking country, regardless of your citizenship, you must provide a test score. To avoid last-minute panic and confirm policies case-by-case it’s better to take the test and send it out to all your colleges.
A strong English Language Proficiency Test score can supplement a weak reading and writing standardised test score:
When applying to a college in the US, you may have to submit standardised test scores. If you haven’t been able to achieve a high score in the reading and writing section, a TOEFL or IELTS score can serve as an additional data point. This can be used by colleges to further evaluate your profile. For fluent English speakers, a strong test score can only be an added benefit.
English language requirements are only waived in certain circumstances:
There are instances when the English Language Proficiency Test can be waived but only if other conditions are met. For instance, if you meet the specified minimum score on the reading and writing section of the SAT/ACT or are attending a high school whose primary language of instruction is English you might not have to submit a test score. However, these criteria vary considerably from college to college. In the past, there have been cases when an IBDP student thought that they were exempt from the English requirement as they were studying an international curriculum that was recognised by US colleges. However, their IB English grade didn’t meet the criteria for exemption under the University of California (UC) system and they ended up having to do the TOEFL after submitting their UC application. Students must check the individual requirements of each college to which they apply. Additionally, taking these tests affords you the flexibility to submit last-minute applications to colleges that require proof of English proficiency.
You might require it for a visa:
When you apply for certain visas, you might be asked to submit an English language test score. For example, even though a student visa to the United States doesn’t require you to submit your test scores, sometimes consulates might ask for the scores in the visa interview. If you are applying to a country that requires it for visa purposes, you might as well do the test early and send it to your college during the admissions process.
Students who are native English speakers will find common English Language Proficiency Tests such as IELTS, TOEFL or Duolingo simple. Our blog has a number of additional resources that can help you with your undergraduate, postgraduate or MBA applications. If you require any further information, get in touch with us.