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Articles / Applying to College / TOEFL Required for US Citizen in India?

Sept. 12, 2016

TOEFL Required for US Citizen in India?

Question: I'm a US citizen by birth but did my entire schooling in India. I've studied English for 14 years now and speaks the language better than my ancestral language of malayalam. Do I need to take TOEFL or similar exams along with my SATs?

If you, as an American citizen living abroad, indicate on your applications that English is your primary language, you will not be expected to take the TOEFL. The college folks don't want to waste your time … or their own.


However, if any of your college Web sites insist that the TOEFL is REQUIRED for all students attending a high school where English is not the main language of instruction, you should send an email to the admission office asking for a waiver.

Most admission offices have at least one staff member who oversees applicants from outside of the US. So it's not a bad idea to make contact with this individual at all of your target colleges. Introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have. You can also use the email to explain what you have told “The Dean"–that the TOEFL would not be appropriate for you.

But … if your verbal SAT scores are below the medians at the colleges you're considering, you might want to take the TOEFL anyway and not be so quick to proclaim your prowess in English!

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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