There are many reasons to study at a university abroad. It might be your ticket to working in a different country or give you access to better opportunities upon returning home.
Either way, a certain level of English to handle school work and daily life in your new country is a must.
But how good does your English actually need to be to get into a university abroad? And how good should it be for you to succeed?
Check English Language Requirements
Most schools set minimum score requirements for IELTS, TOEFL, and other standardized tests of English. To get a general idea, check out the English language requirements for universities in the US and the UK.
You’ll notice that most top-tier schools in English-speaking countries require an IELTS score of at least 7.0 or a TOEFL iBT score of at least 100. But the requirement varies widely from school to school, so make sure to check the score for each school you’re interested in by looking at their admissions website for international students.
If you’re applying to graduate programs abroad, make sure to also check the score requirement for each program or department you’re interested in, as many of these set their own requirements.
Alternatively, take some practice tests to figure out how high you can realistically score. Then make a list of schools you can apply to (e.g. search “top schools that accept TOEFL iBT score of 79”).
Don’t Forget About Schools Outside the US and UK!
Make sure you don’t limit yourself to schools in the US and UK.
You can consider other countries in the English-speaking world, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, or Hong Kong. These parts of the world still offer excellent higher education programs, but demand slightly lower levels of English proficiency.
And don’t forget about non-English-speaking countries. For example, Germany has become a popular study abroad option in recent years. And countries like the Netherlands, Austria, France, Spain, Japan, and Thailand all host tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of international students each year, so you might want to consider them.
Programs in these countries tend to have lower minimum score requirements. Some, like the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering, don’t have minimum score requirements at all, but still highly encourage applicants to learn English.
However, this is not true of all programs. For example, HEC Paris requires a TOEFL iBT score of 100 and an IELTS of 7.0. So make sure you check carefully!
Don’t Have Enough Time to Prepare?
If you’re pressed for time, remember that you have options:
- Some schools let applicants submit TOEFL and IELTS scores after the application deadline.
- Some programs don’t require you to submit English test scores at all! The Yale School of Management is an example.
- Some programs give “conditional offers” or “conditional admission,” which means that they admit you without a score.
The third point is true of many programs in the UK and Europe, including top schools. For example:
- Oxford doesn’t require admitted students to submit a test score until July 31st.
- The London School of Economics considers applications without test results, though it strongly recommends that applicants submit test results along with the application.
And if you don’t get the required score, you can still attend the university, but you must take language courses (called “pre-sessional courses” in the UK) and pass some language tests before enrolling.
Finally, some schools don’t have strict score requirements. For example:
- Duke Graduate School doesn’t have requirements, but “generally seeks scores no less than” 90 (for the TOEFL iBT) and 7.0 (for the IELTS).
- If you don’t have an ideal score, you can still be admitted to Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, but you will most likely have to take an oral communication course.
So if you want to go abroad and don’t have enough time to improve your English significantly before leaving your country, look into these options.
But It’s Best To Arrive Prepared.
However, it’s best to already have good English skills before arriving on campus.
For starters, most schools will require you to apply in English. This means you’ll need to prepare application essays and résumés in English and sometimes even have interviews in English.
Depending on the school, you may also have to take difficult admissions exams in English, such as the GRE or GMAT.
Plus, you’ll need English skills after getting to campus.
- You’ll need English conversation skills to not only make friends with other students but also work together with them in group projects.
- In lectures, you’ll need adequate listening skills to keep up with the professor.
- In seminars, you’ll need to contribute to discussions with other students.
And ultimately, you’ll need more than English to succeed during your studies and beyond. You’ll need:
- Communication skills: When looking for jobs, will you be able to explain your degree and experiences to your future employers in a way that’s impressive but not confusing?
- Critical thinking skills: Are you able to tell if information is reliable or not? Are you able to delve deeper into a complicated problem and identify the real issue?
- Logical thinking skills: Let’s say you don’t know how to answer a question in an interview. What assumptions can you make to arrive at an answer?
- Cross-cultural communication skills: Wherever you go, you’re bound to take classes with students from not only the host country, but also all over the world.
And you’ll need to be able to do all this in English!
So it’s better to arrive at a university with decent English skills. To this end, we recommend you check out online tutoring platforms … like Engoo!
In addition to having tutors from around the world, we also have curricula designed to help you get admitted by schools abroad, but also succeed in your studies there. Check out our:
- TOEFL and IELTS lessons for test prep
- Conversation lessons to prepare yourself for conversations with peers and professors
- Health lessons to prepare yourself for any medical situations.
- Daily News lessons to prepare yourself for discussions on all sorts of topics.
So give us a try! Plus, the first lesson is on us, so there’s nothing to lose.