Exams Other than the TOEFL for U.S. Green Card Holders

U.S. Green Card holders face different college entrance testing rules than international students. This is true for the TOEFL and other exams.

TOEFL-like exams for U.S. Green Card holders

There are quite a few TOEFL substitutes out there. Universities commonly accept the IELTS as an alternative test to the TOEFL. The Eiken and TOEIC are sometimes also accepted as a TOEFL substitute too.

Like the TOEFL, these exams are given almost exclusively to international students. Some universities do ask Green Card holders to take these tests. But more often than not, those with permanent residency in the U.S. can skip these kinds of tests. If a school doesn’t ask U.S. permanent residents to take the TOEFL, it won’t ask for any other TOEFL-like exams either.

English skills placement tests for U.S. Green Card holders

When someone clearly comes from a non-English speaking background, schools usually ask them to do placement testing for English skill. Don’t worry though– a placement test can’t be “failed.”

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

In fact, placement tests aren’t used for admissions at all. Instead, this kind of English exam is used to decide which English classes a student should be placed in when they begin their studies. If your English abilities are a little low, you may be placed in an easier English class, so that you can build up your English skills as you work on your degree.

At the moment, the ACT Compass ESL assessments are the most common English placement tests in the U.S. However, the Compass will be discontinued at the end of 2016. Increasingly, universities are creating their own English placement assessments, often involving oral interviews as well as standardized testing.

The SAT and ACT for U.S. Green Card holders

The SAT and ACT (featured on the Magoosh High School Blog) are the standard entrance exams at four-year universities in the U.S.A. and Canada. Some North American universities require international students to take both the TOEFL and one of these regular college entrance tests, while other universities only ask international students for the TOEFL.

In contrast, U.S. Green Card holders must take either the ACT or SAT when applying for undergraduate study, and usually do not need to take the TOEFL. Permanent residents of the United States will be held to the same SAT/ACT score standards as native English speakers and U.S. citizens.

The GRE and GMAT for U.S. Green Card Holders

The GRE and GMAT are the two most commonly-required graduate admissions tests in North America. A grad school applicant’s U.S. status does not have any impact on GRE or GMAT requirements. International students, U.S. Green Card holders, and full citizens of the U.S. and Canada all face the same score requirements for these two exams.

The same goes for other more specialized exams, such as the LSAT and the Praxis. The minimum scores on graduate exams are the same for permanent residents, international students, and everyone else. This is the one type of testing standard where U.S. permanent residency makes no difference at all.

Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

Most Popular Resources


  • 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!

More from Magoosh

10 Responses to Exams Other than the TOEFL for U.S. Green Card Holders

  1. Priya December 5, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

    Hey! I am a green card holder and I did B.E in India. Will I need gre and toefl to apply for MS in USA?

    • David Recine
      David Recine December 6, 2018 at 6:49 am #

      You probably won’t need the TOEFL. With that said, some universities, in rare cases, will still ask Green Card holders for the TOEFL. If your Indian high school and B.E. education was in a language other than English, being asked for TOEFL is slightly more likely. But again, it’s rare regardless.

      You will need the GRE, since GRE testing for MS programs is required of all applicants, whether they are permanent residents, citizens, or international students.

      • Vedant Bhatt January 10, 2021 at 7:27 am #

        Hi David, I am a Green Card Holder of US, and I want to pursue Masters in Finance at Robert H Smith School of Business University of Maryland. So, Am I required to give GMAT?

        • Magoosh Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:36 pm #

          Hi Vedant, you should check the University of Maryland website and reach out to an admissions officer in your target program for more information about their specific requirements!

  2. Preet December 10, 2018 at 3:41 am #

    I loved the article, excellent work.I recently got my green card and I just had a couple of questions regarding admission into a medical college in the US.
    1.I have completed my Sr.Secondary education in India (I think it is equivalent to high school in the US). For admission into a medical college, which entrance exam(s) do I need to take?
    2. Is mathematics compulsory? As I haven’t taken mathematics (I have completed physics instead)

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 12, 2018 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Preet,

      Our expertise is in test prep, not admissions advice, so we may not be the best people to answer this question. However, I can provide you with some general information! In the US, medical school is a graduate program, which means that you must complete a four-year university degree in order to apply. Potential medical students must also take many pre-medical courses such as chemistry and physics, in order to apply for medical school. The MCAT is the admissions test for medical schools, and while there are no official prerequisites to take the MCAT, it’s recommended that you take all of those pre-med courses in order to prepare effectively. Most schools do require university-level math classes such as Calculus. I encourage you to do some more research into the requirements for medical school 🙂

  3. Richa May 18, 2020 at 8:08 am #

    I came to USA very recently n I got my green card . Do I need to take to TOELF test ?

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 15, 2021 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Richa, this depends on what you plan to do. Many universities will require a TOEFL test, but you should reach out to the admissions office of your target school to understand their specific requirements.

  4. Ahmad August 22, 2022 at 11:22 am #

    Hi There,
    Does a green Card Holder need to qualify in any sort of proficiency test (GRE, SAT, IELTS or TOEFL) for admission to Masters in Social Science, especially when the student holds a couple of master’s degrees from his native country?

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 27, 2022 at 7:08 am #

      Hi Ahmad,

      Whether you need to take a standardized test will depend solely on the program’s admissions requirements, and it should have nothing to do with your immigration status. Some schools require the GRE for their Master’s program, but other schools have transitioned to a test-optional application process, so it’s worth checking directly with the admissions office of the schools you’re interested in!

      Hope that helps!

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply