International Student Blog

What is the TOEFL for International Students?

One of things that some international students may have to do as part of applying for programs in the United States is taking the TOEFL.

  • TOEFL is an acronym for Test Of English as a Foreign Language and is a standardized test that evaluates your ability to read, write and understand English.
  • Typically, a U.S. university will require an international student who is from a non-English speaking country to take the test.
  • The test is for non-native English speakers and is generally used for application purposes to enroll in universities that are English-Speaking.

The TOEFL is given in two formats: online and paper.

  • The online-based test is the most popular and widely taken, while the paper test is only administered in a limited amount of areas.
  • The online test takes about four hours to complete, and consists of four parts: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
  • Each section of the test evaluates your ability to understand English well enough to learn at an English speaking educational institution.

As stated prior, the TOEFL score is only one part of the admissions process for international students to study in the United States.

  • Each institution has different score requirements, and each program inside of an institution may also have different requirements.
  • It is strongly suggested that you contact the admissions office of the program and/or institution you wish to attend in order to check the minimum admissible TOEFL score.
  • Minimum scores in the United States vary greatly with some programs having minimums as low as 60, and others as high as 110.

Another similar test, the International English Language Test, or IELTS is also commonly accepted by English speaking institutions.

  • The main difference between IELTS and TOEFL is that the IELTS is administered by the British Council and therefore is more likely to be desired by United Kingdom institutions and institutions in Australia and New Zealand.
  • The TOEFL is administered by a United States organization and is therefore more likely to be desired by United States institutions.
  • However, either test is normally acceptable, and it is always suggested to check the admissions requirements of your desired program to make sure which tests they accept.

Like most standardized tests, there are many companies out there to help you prepare for your TOEFL exam. Here are a few of these services to help jump-start your search:

  • Education First: This service has been around for over fifty years and has a presence in over 115 countries. Since TOEFL test takers come from all over the world, most TOEFL preparation courses are taken online. Education First, on the other hand, gives live classes and has almost 550 offices and schools across the world. Classes are generally given in groups at one of the language schools and they work to help you master all aspects of speaking and understanding English.
  • Kaplan: Kaplan offers test preparation courses and materials for a wide range of standardized tests, including the TOEFL. They offer both self-paced online options and in-person options. The resources they offer are also wide, with large practice books with many questions, to preparation software, and even a computerized analysis that tracks your progress and shows you areas where you may need to improve. They also offer videos and explanations as part of their resources.
  • Magoosh: This is an online study course for the TOEFL. This one of the many online options there are for TOEFL preparation. They offer plans of different lengths and prices to cater to international students of different budgets and also different schedules (for example, if you are taking the test in a week and do not want to purchase a plan that lasts for a month). This service also offers a wide variety of different videos and lessons, and also has a score guarantee.

The above listed services are just a few of the many different types of services available to international students looking to study in the United States. The ETS, the United States company that administers the TOEFL, also provides a preparation course for the test. You can also find information on scheduling and registering for the test on their website. Additionally, there are private tutors, and services that provide online tutoring. It is strongly suggested that you do some of your own searching in order to find a TOEFL preparation program that fits your budget, schedule, and needs.

If you have any questions about how to search for international student loan options to study in the U.S. please visit us at We’d be happy to help you search and compare options for education loans or study loans, too. Please send us an email at if you have any questions! We are happy to help.




John Romanucci

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