Does the TOEFL Expire?

Does the TOEFL Expire?

Is your TOEFL score getting a little old? In that case, you may wonder: does the TOEFL expire? Yes, it does. But when?

When Does the TOEFL Expire?

Under official ETS rules, TOEFL scores expire after two years. Most universities will follow this rule and will want to see TOEFL scores that are less than two years old.

In very rare cases, a university may have its own rules for TOEFL score expiration, different from the ETS 2-year rule. For example, the Harvard Extension School accepts TOEFL scores that are up to three years old.

If you’re not sure of your school’s rules for expired TOEFL scores, double check with the admissions office.

Why do TOEFL Scores Expire?

If your TOEFL score is about to expire, this may be a question you ask in frustration. It definitely can be upsetting to have an otherwise good TOEFL score expire.

But there is a reason for TOEFL expiration policies. Your ability in your second language can change over time. It’s possible for ESL students to improve as the years pass… But they can also get-out-of-practice and actually lose some of their English.

Believe it or not, having to retake the TOEFL after two years can be good for you. It allows you to reassess your own English abilities and get in some more English practice before you go back to school.

Do Other English Test Scores Expire?

Yes, definitely. The IELTS expires in two years. So does the TOEIC. And even if you take an alternative test to the TOEFL that doesn’t have an official expiration date, the school you apply to will probably not accept older scores.

What Happens if Your TOEFL Score is Almost Expired When You Apply to School?

This is a tricky one. If your TOEFL score won’t expire until after your first day of class, you’re probably OK. Still, some schools may not want to accept a TOEFL score that expires before the end of your first semester of study.

Now, what if the TOEFL score expires before the application deadline? In that case, you will likely need to retake the TOEFL before you apply. However, if your TOEFL is going to expire less than a month before the deadline to apply, it may not hurt to ask your school if they’ll still accept the score. Some schools are flexible on this, especially smaller public universities.

Finally, what should you do if your TOEFL will expire after the application deadline, but before your first day of school? That’s the trickiest situation. A lot of schools will be OK with such a “borderline” TOEFL score. But there are also plenty of schools that won’t accept a TOEFL score under those circumstances. If your TOEFL expiration date is “trapped” between the application cutoff and the first day of school, you should definitely ask your school about this, ASAP.

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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