TOEFL Eligibility

The times when you most likely need to take the TOEFL are well-known. The TOEFL is most often required as part of the admissions process for universities, and TOEFL scores are also sometimes accepted for the purposes of work visas or professional licensure.

TOEFL Eligibility

There can be a bit more confusion about when someone can take the TOEFL. Some people mistakenly believe that there are age restrictions for taking the TOEFL, or that you can’t take the TOEFL until you’ve completed a certain amount of schooling or reached a certain level of English proficiency.

The truth is that anyone can take the TOEFL. There are no eligibility requirements to take the exam, other than the ability to register for the test, pay the fee, and submit proper personal identification on test day. Anyone can take the TOEFL, regardless of age, prior schooling or English ability.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.


Who should take the TOEFL

So anyone can take the TOEFL. Eligibility aside however, it’s good to ask yourself if you actually should take the TOEFL. As a general rule, it’s best to take the TOEFL if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Completion of at least some high school courses. The TOEFL is geared towards high school and early college-level academic skills.
  • English ability sufficient to meet the normal range of TOEFL score requirements for school admissions, immigration or professional licensure. The TOEFL is designed for individuals with intermediate to advanced levels of English. Minimum score requirements are set accordingly.
  • Interest in a school or program that grants conditional acceptance to students with lower TOEFL scores. Some schools are willing to accept very low TOEFL scores, provided students with lower scores attend intensive English program courses before beginning their regular degree path. If you are applying for possible conditional acceptance, you should take the TOEFL even if your English proficiency isn’t quite at the intermediate or advanced level.
  • Acceptance into a program that uses the TOEFL for placement in a specific level of English coursework, rather than as an admissions exam. Some schools use the TOEFL only to place students in the correct level of English courses as they begin their studies. Schools that do this sometimes use the TOEFL iBT. However, it’s more common for schools to use alternative version of the TOEFL such as the TOEFL ITP or TOEFL Junior for level-testing and placement.


Who should not take the TOEFL

There are cases in which you probably shouldn’t take the TOEFL. It’s best to avoid this exam if any of the following applies to you:

  • You are under 16 years old or more than two years away from completing high school. Most of the opportunities available to successful TOEFL test-takers are adult opportunities—university attendance, skilled migrant visas, medical professional licensing, and so on. TOEFL score reports expire in two years. If you take the TOEFL at too young of an age, your scores could expire before you get old enough to take advantage of TOEFL-based opportunities. In addition, the TOEFL measures advanced academic skills that may be difficult for younger test-takers.
  • You have low-intermediate or beginner-level English in one or more of the four TOEFL skill areas—listening, speaking, reading, or writing. As mentioned early in this article, the TOEFL is for students with intermediate or higher English ability. In fact, if you have really low ability in a receptive skill such as reading or listening, you may not even be able to understand the instructions and prompts on the test.
  • You are specifically exempt from taking the TOEFL. Schools and other programs may exempt certain groups of people from having to take an English proficiency exam. Applicants who have already completed years of English-language schooling, hold permanent residency in the US, or come from a TOEFL exempt country do not always need to take the exam. If you English ability is demonstrated in other ways or you don’t qualify as an international student, you may be TOEFL-exempt. Check with your prospective schools to see if there’s a chance you don’t need to submit TOEFL scores.


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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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8 Responses to TOEFL Eligibility

  1. Vipnaz February 3, 2018 at 10:56 am #

    I’m 16 years old from Spain can I give toefl test? And after how much time I’ll be able to study there?
    Pleasee tell me help!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm #

      Hi Vipnaz,

      There are no age requirements for the TOEFL–you can take the TOEFL at any age. The better question is if you SHOULD take the TOEFL right now. The TOEFL score is only valid for 2 years, so you should think about your timeline for when you plan to use your TOEFL score to study. If you plan to study when you are 18, for example, then you should probably wait until you are closer to applying for school. If you plan to study right away, then you might want to take the TOEFL soon. You can also take the TOEFL now if you just want to practice and understand the test and then take it again once you are making concrete study plans.

  2. Afrah August 17, 2018 at 1:23 am #

    I’m a 14 year old student living in Dubai. I would like to know the effective TOEFL coaching centers and how useful it would be in my college admissions and scholarships

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 17, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

      Hi Afrah,

      It sounds like you are planning ahead, which is great! Magoosh is an online test prep company, so you can take our course from anywhere in the world, at your own pace. I’m sure that there are in-person TOEFL tutoring services in Dubai, but I’m afraid we don’t have a list of centers. An English proficiency test like the TOEFL or IELTS is required in most universities in the US, Canada and the UK, and many in Europe. You’ll have to research the specific score requirements for the schools you are interested in, but this blog post might help get you started: TOEFL Scores for your Dream University. Keep in mind that TOEFL scores are only valid for two years, so you may want to wait a little while before starting to study too earnestly 🙂

  3. Massimiliano Randon July 23, 2019 at 3:42 am #

    Hi I just got my toefl few moths ago and I got the score which I need for the university where I wanna apply.
    The question is, do I need to take the new kind of toefl if I wanna apply for universities or I can just use my old score until the two years that is valid.
    Until when can I use my old score?

    Thank you!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 30, 2019 at 7:52 pm #

      Hi Massimiliano!

      This is a fantastic question. The TOEFL score scales are not changing with the new update so you should be able to apply for universities without retaking the new exam. However, you should reach out to the schools that you’re interested in directly for the most accurate information. For additional information about the new TOEFL, check out this FAQ.

  4. Souvik Pal August 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm #

    I am from India, i have not completed 10+2, but have completed diploma. am i eligible for toefl test?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 7, 2019 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Souvik! Yes, I believe you should be eligible for the TOEFL. If you want to be extra sure, I would reach out to ETS customer service to make sure for your specific case 🙂

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