If you want to study or work abroad, one of the best ways to prove that you are proficient in the English language is to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The TOEFL measures your ability to use and understand English by assessing how well you listen, read, speak, and write in an academic setting. A TOEFL score of “Pass” is acknowledged by more than 8,000 colleges, businesses, agencies, and other institutions in more than 130 countries around the globe. This has made the test a sort of “global passport” to studying and working in English-speaking countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Every year, nearly a million people take the TOEFL test to demonstrate their English skills. The test can help anyone who wants to measure their progress in learning English, but most people who take the TOEFL are students planning to study at a college or university. The test can also help individuals seeking to enter an English-language program or prove they have successfully completed one. Candidates for scholarships, awards, and certifications—as well as students and workers who need a visa--may have to prove that they have proficient English skills with a passing TOEFL score, too.

Many colleges and universities around the world, especially those in English-speaking countries, require a passing TOEFL score before they will admit a candidate from another country. However, many other institutions and agencies, including those listed below, also rely on the score:

Test-takers for the TOEFL come from all over the world, and the test is well known in the international community. Xiaofoei Tang took the test in 1999 in China and now works as a marketing director in the United States. So Yun Park took the TOEFL while attending Korea University. Her scores enabled her to attend a global seminar on sustainability in Tokyo. She later used her TOEFL scores to attend the University of London as an exchange student.

Overseas students coming to English-speaking countries are not the only ones who may need to take the TOEFL; students from the United States who want to study abroad will usually need a passing score, too.

To prepare for the test, you can take an online English course on the TOEFL, purchase a study guide to use at home, or even hire a private tutor. Many web-based programs are interactive and can help you not only improve reading and writing skills, but speaking and listening skills, too. Some study guides may focus on English idioms and colloquialisms instead of straight vocabulary. There are even online practice tests that you can take in advance to get a feel for the TOEFL’s content.

Taking the TOEFL could not be easier. There are more than 4,500 TOEFL test centers that offer the test in approximately 180 countries around the world. The test is offered on paper and online. Because a passing TOEFL score will open doors for you professionally and academically, test centers have stringent security procedures to ensure that the right person is taking the test. You also must take the entire test in one sitting; the clock does not stop if you leave the testing area. The TOEFL is usually administered at colleges and universities, but some business facilities offer it as well.

If you take the computer-based TOEFL, you will receive your score immediately. Then you will have the option of accepting and distributing your scores to selected institutions or canceling the score. The option to cancel your score is helpful if you did not pass the TOEFL, since it ensures that institutions and business will not know about your prior low scores when you do pass it.

The TOEFL is probably the world’s best-known, most accessible, and most accepted test to prove English proficiency. If you want to study abroad or work internationally, or just become a skilled English speaker, the TOEFL can help you meet your goals.


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