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Articles / Applying to College / Is TOEFL required after 8 Years in the US?

Feb. 7, 2013

Is TOEFL required after 8 Years in the US?

Question: I am a high school senior. I applied to Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and they sent me a email saying that it is required of me to take the TOEFL exam. I didn't have a problem with any of my other colleges. I have been in New York for the past 8 years. I took ESL when I first came and passed their test in a couple of years. I took the SAT and the ACT. My high school career does show that I am strong in academics. Do I really need to take the TOEFL for them? I don't understand what to do.


For reasons that mystify me, Albany College Pharmacy and Health Sciences requires the TOEFL from ANY applicant whose first language isn’t English and who has been in the US (or studied in an English-language school) for fewer than 10 years. Typically, colleges use 4 years—not 10—as the cut-off, and 10 seems extreme!

Some colleges that require the TOEFL for all non-native English speakers will waive it when standardized test scores are good. How were your Reading and Writing scores on the SAT and ACT? If they were strong—or at least fairly strong—you might want to contact the college and ask if they will waive the TOEFL requirement for you. (By "strong," I mean that they were roughly at the median at ACPHS, which means about 575 in Critical Reading or mid- to upper-20's on the ACT English test.)

You can either try to do this via email or you can telephone the admission office and ask to speak to the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school. Explain your situation and cite your grades (especially in English) and your tests scores, assuming that they were decent. If the staff member agrees to waive the TOEFL requirement, ask him or her to send you an email to confirm the decision in writing.

(posted 2/6/2013)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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