Through Moxon English and iTalki, I tutor a lot of English learners from Europe. Often, my European students know little or nothing about TOEFL. But should European students know much about the TOEFL? Should they consider taking the TOEFL? This post is a guide to the TOEFL for European students.
Should European Students Take the TOEFL to Study in Europe?
In most cases, if one of my European students is preparing to study at an English-language campus, he or she is headed to the United Kingdom or Ireland, not to the USA or Canada. As a result, most of the European test-preppers I work with come to me for help with the IELTS. After all, the IELTS is widely regarded as the standard British exam for academic English. The TOEFL Is much more strongly associated with North America (especially the US). In addition, the UK government recently removed TOEFL from its list of acceptable exams for student visas, as did Ireland.
So if you’re a European student and you are planning to study at a UK university, is there any reason to take the TOEFL? Surprisingly, the answer might be yes. While the United Kingdom’s central government has rejected the TOEFL, the UK still lets individual schools choose to accept the TOEFL. If a UK uni you apply to sees the TOEFL as acceptable proof of English ability, they can still sponsor your student visa. This is true in the UK even with the supposed government ban, and the same is true in Ireland. And in fact, pretty much all of the UK and Irish universities that accepted the TOEFL in the past still accept it.
But what of universities in the European Union, the Schengen Area, and other parts of Europe? Don’t they also tend to treat IELTS as the gold standard? Many people assume that to be the case, but it’s not. Most English-language degree programs in Europe are equally accepting of the TOEFL and the IELTS. The TOEFL is almost always an acceptable English exam for European students who want to study in English on their own continent.
So the TOEFL is certainly an option to consider. And if you are a European university student, it may be your best option. This depends on your testing preferences and whether or not you’re more comfortable with North American or British English (see “TOEFL vs. IELTS“). It also can be a matter of convenience. Anywhere you go in the world, the TOEFL has more testing centers than the IELTS. It may very well be easier for you to get to a TOEFL testing site than an IELTS one (see “Why is the TOEFL an Internet-Based Test?“).
Should European Students Take the TOEFL To Study Outside of Europe?
If you want to study in the USA or Canada, the TOEFL seems like the most obvious choice, and it certainly is an option. Bear in mind, however, that the TOEFL and IELTS are equally accepted at nearly every North American university. The same goes for schools in most of the rest of the world. So, you should always weigh the TOEFL as a potential ticket to international study, alongside more European English assessments, such as the IELTS.