22 Sep 2023

Why is your English proficiency so important to universities?

With almost 1.75 billion people speaking English as their first or second language, English is one of the most popular languages in the world.

So it makes perfect sense that a large majority of the universities around the world would expect their international students to exhibit a certain level of fluency when it comes to speaking, writing, and understanding English.

After all, admissions officers want to be confident that you’ll successfully complete your studies, when they are taught in English, without any language barriers. They know you’ll need to actively participate in classroom discussions, understand the textbooks, and complete your assignments to finish your education and move forward to a great future.

By demonstrating your English capabilities with an English proficiency test, you prove to the university that you have the language skills necessary to succeed.

Of course, the need for universities to understand your level of English proficiency goes beyond academics. They know that your ability to speak and understand English will greatly enhance your school experience as you collaborate with, and live alongside, students who grew up with English as their first language. They also know that the greater your understanding of the English language, the greater your chance for success after you graduate — no matter where in the world you decide to work.

Which English proficiency test should you take?

While there are several English-language tests, there are a few reasons why the TOEFL tests from ETS stand out from the rest with their reputation for unmatched quality.
The TOEFL iBT test, for example, is built on rigorous research. Every question is checked for fairness to ensure that no one culture will have an unfair advantage. Currently, TOEFL iBT scores are accepted by more than 11,500 institutions worldwide, making it the most trusted test of its kind. The TOEFL Essentials test follows in this tradition of high-quality, high-standard tests.

Of course, there is one other reason a TOEFL test might be the right choice for you. Over the years, more than 35 million other students worldwide have placed their trust in it.

Choose the TOEFL test that’s right for you.

To do your best on an English proficiency test, you need to feel comfortable with the test you select. That’s why TOEFL offers you a choice: the TOEFL iBT® test or the TOEFL® Essentials™ test.

Both tests measure the 4 core language skills — Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking— to make sure you have the necessary English skills to succeed in the classroom. And both are accepted by universities all over the world.

The TOEFL iBT test

Over the years, the TOEFL iBT test has become the most trusted and most accepted English proficiency test. It consists of 100% academic content and includes longer in-depth tasks that measure your English skills the way they’re used in a university classroom. The computer-based Speaking section of the test follows this traditional approach and records your responses to on-screen prompts.

All content in the TOEFL iBT test is carefully pre-selected to provide the most accurate assessment of your academic English skills and ensures that your TOEFL scores will be a true reflection of your abilities.

The TOEFL iBT test takes about 3 hours to complete and includes a 10-minute break. You can take the TOEFL iBT test one of three ways: the traditional test taken on a computer at a test center, the TOEFL iBT Home Edition, or the TOEFL iBT Paper Edition.

The TOEFL Essentials test

Designed to measure the foundational elements of English-language proficiency, the content of the TOEFL Essentials test assesses both academic and general usage. It offers a faster-paced, more engaging format with shorter tasks that adapt to your proficiency level as you take the test to help show your English-language strengths.

Instead of a traditional computer-based Speaking section, the TOEFL Essentials test includes a simulated virtual interview with a pre-recorded interviewer for a more interactive experience. It also offers you the opportunity to create a Personal Video Statement to share your insights and showcase your personality.

The TOEFL Essentials test is taken at home and takes about 90 minutes to complete. It’s also more affordable than other major English-language tests.

So let’s recap. You need to show universities your English-language skills by taking an English proficiency test. The TOEFL test is the gold standard trusted by university admissions officers everywhere. And now TOEFL offers you a choice of two outstanding tests.

That just leaves one more question that needs to be answered: Are you more of a TOEFL Essentials or a TOEFL iBT kind of test-taker? Visit: ets.org/TOEFL to find out.

Accepted by 11,500+ institutions in more than 160 countries, the TOEFL iBT test is recognized as the gold standard of English-proficiency tests. Institutions trust TOEFL iBT scores because of the exam’s academic focus, established high standards of quality, and fair and unbiased scoring. Get more information about registering for the TOEFL iBT test here.

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Last update: 22 Sep 2023

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