This information is intended to assist admitting departments with questions surrounding certification of English proficiency.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires universities admitting international students to verify that each nonnative English speaking student has sufficient English language proficiency to succeed in the academic program. Therefore, admitting departments must present proof of this level of proficiency for each nonnative English speaking student before visa eligibility documents can be processed by the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS).
The standard way to ensure the appropriate level of English language proficiency is 1) to require applicants to complete an objective, standardized English language assessment, and 2) to require an appropriate minimum score in order for applicants to be considered for admission. The test most frequently taken by WashU applicants is the TOEFL iBT.
When Applicants Should Take the TOEFL
Educational Testing Service (ETS, which administers the TOEFL) will not report scores that are more than two years old. For an applicant’s TOEFL score to be valid for the purpose of English proficiency verification, the applicant needs to plan on taking the test within two years before requesting that the score be reported to the university.
|TOEFL iBT (total score)||Computer-based TOEFL(total score)||Paper-based TOEFL (total score)|
|Source: Educational Testing Service (2005), TOEFL Internet-based Test Score Comparison Tables, p. 6|
In addition to the composite score, the TOEFL iBT score report includes sub-scores for four skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each sub-score ranges from 0-30.
For WashU, the OISS recommends that departments establish a minimum composite score of at least 90 in order for applicants to be considered for admission. For programs whose students will need to serve as teaching assistants, do extensive reading and writing, or otherwise meet a particularly high standard of English communication skills, departments may find that a more appropriate minimum composite score is 100.
The overall IELTS score ranges from 0-9. The score report also includes component scores of 0-9 for four skill areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
For WashU, the OISS recommends that departments establish a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS Academic in order for applicants to be considered for admission. For programs whose students will need to serve as teaching assistants, do extensive reading and writing, or otherwise meet a particularly high standard of English communication skills, departments may find that a more appropriate minimum score is 7 on the IELTS Academic.
As a reminder, students submitting scores from the above temporarily accepted test, Duolinguo, must also complete testing upon arrival within the school to determine if they need additional English courses. If additional courses are needed, the schools are required to submit documentation to OISS along with the specific action plan created for the student. This will help us to ensure that students have the appropriate support given their situation.
If a student has completed three or more years of study in an English-medium university-level academic program in a country other than the ones listed above, the admitting department may request a waiver.
Alternatively, departments may choose to require the TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic for all applicants whose first language is not English.