I go to school in Mexico and have grown up here all my life, but my English is great. Do I still need to take the TOEFL if I'm applying to school in the States?


Dave Nguyen, Education Consultant, College Lecturer, PhD

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Each school has different requirements regarding skipping the TOEFL. You should check the website of each school for this information. In general, if you took 4 years of regular high school English at your high school in the US, and passed those classes, then you may not need to take the TOEFL. Some schools will be satisfied if your reading and writing scores on the SAT I Reasoning test is above a certain number.

Amy Yvette Garrou, College admissions expert (US and international colleges)

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In most cases, the TOEFL (or the IELTS, or some other proof of English proficiency) is required of students whose first language is not English. That's the underlying reason for requiring the TOEFL (not your citizenship, or where you live, as many people think). The other writers are correct that you should check with each college you're interested in regarding its English-proficiency requirements. Even if English was not your first language, some colleges will exempt you from the TOEFL because you've studied at a school where English is the language of instruction, or exempt you if you make a certain SAT Critical Reading score, or if you've earned a high score on an English AP exam, for example. But if English was not your first language, then it's a good idea to take the TOEFL or IELTS because a) you'll do very well on it if you are a fluent English speaker, and b) one or more of your colleges is likely to require it. Best wishes in your college-application process.

Barbara Bellesi, Writer, Editor, and Educator

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Hello! Good question. While every school has its own policy on the TOEFL, you will likely need to take the exam anyway, unless English is the language used for class instruction at your school. If it is not, I'm not sure how you would be able to prove your fluency other than by taking the TOEFL. The best thing for you to do would be to reach out to each college or university to which you are applying and ask about the possibility of a waiver. They might be able to offer another opportunity for you to demonstrate your fluency. Good luck!

Robyn Scott, Educational Consultant, TutorNerds LLC

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Each school will have its own policy but most likely you will be required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. Schools want to make sure that every student will be able to take courses in English and be successful. That being said, there isn't a rule that prevents you from making an appeal. If you speak English in the classroom or English at home, or if you have another compelling reason to be excused from the exam, its possible to write a well thought out and well documented appeal to a university. I would start by contacting each school individually to see what their specific requirements are before beginning the application process.

I hope this helps!

M. Erez Kats, Seattle Language Arts Teacher, Author, and Artist

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Yes, I agree with the above expert. Often times you can either test out of this requirement by taking a more personalized exam with a school representative, (often a reading, speaking, writing and listening exam) or possibly give examples of your writing or speaking in English that could be viewed as a possible credit waiver. I would definitely inquire about waivers as Barbara said above, and read the fine print or ask prevalent questions to make sure you qualify. You may even be able to get credit for certain courses you've taken in Spanish, if you can demonstrate English proficiency, and show that the curriculum would be approved in English as well. Good luck!

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