If you're planning to apply to university later this year, either for Fall 2015 or for next year, we recommend getting your English language requirement (IELTS or TOEFL) out of the way. It will be one less thing to think about as you prepare for the SAT, study for final exams, or begin the application process.
Do I Really Have to Prove I Speak English?
You might be thinking "I don't have to take an exam to prove I speak English because I went to an English speaking school." Unfortunately, almost all universities in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia will still require you to prove you speak English. Here are the requirements from the University of Chicago that show typical requirements to NOT have to take the TOEFL or IELTS:
The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Students who studied in English in other countries, for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., are not exempt from the English language requirement.
From the last sentence, we can see that the United Arab Emirates will fall into the same category as Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. If you went to school in Dubai and don't have a passport from the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or South Africa, you'll have to take the TOEFL or IELTS.
I Went to School in the UAE and I Don't Have a "Western" Passport
So what score do you need? Well, that varies by university and by program. Some require only a 70 or above. However, the following requirements from the University of Chicago are pretty typical:
Applicants whose total score on the four-part TOEFL falls below 90 (or IELTS falls below 7) will not normally be admitted unless other demonstrable evidence of proficiency in English is available. Individual departments may set higher standards for these scores, and applicants should consult the specific program web sites for details.
Some universities like Georgia Tech now even require online interviews for non-native English speakers!
I Went to School in the UAE and I Don't Have a "Western" Passport: The Exception
There is one exception to the requirement we just mentioned: a high score on the SAT Reading section. Many universities will not require you to take the TOEFL or IELTS even if you went to school in the UAE and don't have a "Western" passport IF you earned a high score on the SAT Reading section. Here are the example requirements from Cornell University:
The TOEFL and/or IELTS requirement for international applicants is waived for students achieving a score of at least 670 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT exam.
The score you need varies based on university (usually 620 and above) so be sure to read EVERYTHING on the International Applicants section of the website of EACH university to which you are applying. If you meet the university's requirements, they will automatically waive the requirement for you so you don't need to email them.
I Went to School in the UAE and I Don't Have a "Western" Passport: Applying to the UK
If you went to school in the UAE and don't have a "Western" passport but you are applying to the UK, you must take the IELTS. You have to meet the requirements of the university and course you are applying to AND the UK Government to qualify for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. If you're applying to both UK and US universities, make the process easier for yourself and take the IELTS Academic module because it will meet everyone's requirements.
I Went to School in the UAE and I Do Have a "Western" Passport
If you went to high school in Dubai and have a passport from the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or South Africa (even if you never lived there), you can qualify for a "TOEFL Waiver." It is also some times called an English language requirement waiver or a TOEFL/IELTS waiver but TOEFL waiver is the most common term. Here's how to get one from your universities.
How to Apply for a TOEFL or IELTS Waiver
1. Apply to the university via its website or through the Common Application. The university will not be apply to access your file to provide the credit until they have actually received the application. You can only apply for a TOEFL Waiver to universities in the US (and international universities in Dubai).
2. Wait for a confirmation email from the university. It may take 2-3 days after the deadline has passed for you to receive this email. It will include information for sending other parts of your application and provide an email address to apply for a TOEFL waiver (if this info is not included on the university website). If you don't get an email from the Admissions Department within a week of submitting your application, go to the next step.
3. Send an email to the Admissions Department requesting a TOEFL waiver.Here's a sample that you can cut, paste, and change:
Subject: TOEFL Waiver
I recently submitted my application to (university name) for Fall 2015. Here is my information to help you find my application:
- First and last names as they appear on the application
- Email address used on your application
- Date of birth
- Application number (if received in confirmation email)
I would like to request a TOEFL waiver because I am a native English speaker and hold a passport from (country), which meets the requirements shown on the university website. I have attached my passport copy as proof.
Please email me once my TOEFL waiver has been granted.
4. Wait for about 2 weeks for a response from the university. If no one replies, check the online application system for the university, call the admissions office, or email the admissions office again.
Congratulations...now you can start preparing for the SAT!
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Leave it in the comments!
In our previous post, we offered 6 Free TOEFL Practice Resources that you can find online to help you prepare IF you have already taken the SAT. In case you have decided to take the IELTS instead (good idea because it's easier than the TOEFL for most people and test dates are more widely available in Dubai), we have 6 free IELTS practice resources you should use.
How to Prepare for the IELTS
Our advice for TOEFL prep also applies here, but with a few changes:
Resources to Start Prepping with Now
Here are a few resources available on the web to get your IELTS preparation started:
IELTS Official Test Takers Test Sample
This test is an awesome resource for your IELTS prep because it: a) is from the official makers of the test, b) is full length, c) includes actual listening audio (a lot of online resources don't), and d) includes the actual IELTS style forms you use (this is very important because this is a written test!). You should use this test as your diagnostic to assess what your score would be on the real IELTS. You need the Academic module for university admission so use the following sections IN THIS ORDER:
British Council's Road to IELTS Test Drive
One of the administrator's of the IELTS, British Council, has developed a great online tool to give you more computer based IELTS practice. While this tool is awesome for the listening audio and sample answers to different test sections, we highly recommend that you print the test answer sheets (listening answer sheet, reading answer sheet, and writing answer sheets Task 1-use the same one for Task 2 since the website is down) and you use them in addition to putting the answers into the computer. You want to ensure that you are prepared to WRITE ON PAPER come test day. If you register for the IELTS through the British Council, you get FREE access to their Last Minute prep, which has even more IELTS activities and exercises.
This site has a wealth of practice for your IELTS prep (just ignore the ads). One the right side of the page you should see a menu for IELTS practice tests. Click those links and you'll find:
These tests aren't official and the format is a little bizarre, but they are great practice if you need free prep.
Hong Kong Polytechnic IELTS Prep
This is a weird little site from Hong Kong Polytechnic University that turns out to offer some pretty solid IELTS practice. Click the links off the main site for lots of practice with decent audio and some answer examples that the university has produced on its own. A great resource if you've finished all the material from IELTS, British Council, and Exam English.
A decent collection of IELTS study materials. For exam prep, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for menus on the right side. Otherwise, you might get lost in the sea of ads!
IELTS for Free
Yet another decent online resource for IELTS prep. Check each test to make sure there is no overlap in tests you've done before.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Leave it in the comments!
In our previous post, we recommended that students or people applying for immigration take the IELTS if they want to easily meet their immigration requirements. Here are the remaining test dates for 2014. If you're applying to universities, be sure to register for the Academic Module. The General Module is for immigration.
If you intend to attend university or immigrate to an English speaking country, you probably need to take an exam that proves you speak English as a second language. Although many people opt for the TOEFL, the IELTS may be a better fit for you. In general:
IELTS has 48 fixed test dates each year to ensure high levels of quality and security. The test dates for 2013 are listed below.
The Academic version (A) of the test is available on all 48 dates. The General Training version (G) of the test is available on 24 dates.
If you're applying universities, you need the Academic version. The General version is usually for immigration to Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Learn more about registering for the IELTS here: http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/how_do_i_register.aspx
Need help preparing for the IELTS and already took the SAT? APPLY ME offers private orientation lessons to familiarize students with the test. As part of this low cost and short program, we will create a customized study plan, recommend materials, and offer structured practice for you. Email or call us at 04 311 6830 to learn more!