When studying in the U.S., nearly all classes, textbooks, and communications from the school will, of course, be in English. Many international students speak some level of English, but universities in the U.S. want to know that an incoming international student has sufficient English skills to succeed in their studies.
This is why so many schools require that international students pass an English proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or the IELTS, before they are able to enroll in classes. Before we tell you about these tests, we would like to tell you about today’s example and featured school: the University of Arkansas, who also offer conditional admission to students who do not meet English proficiency requirements via the Spring International Learning Center.
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas is a public university in the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas – one of U.S. News and World Report’s “Top 5 Places to Live in the U.S.” It offers over 200 academic programs between graduate and undergraduate levels, the most degree programs offered at any school in the state of Arkansas. According to the Carnegie Foundation, the University of Arkansas sits among the top 3% schools when it comes to level of research activity.
The school is proud to have an international student population of nearly 1,500 students from over 110 different countries. Like most universities in the United States, the University of Arkansas requires an English language proficiency test for students from countries where English is not the native language. As an international student interested in applying to the University of Arkansas, you have two options: the TOEFL or the IELTS. Both tests are designed to test your proficiency in the English language, but the TOEFL is more academically focused, while the IELTS is more focused on communication skills. Let’s take a look at both tests, and see how they compare, and how they differ.
The TOEFL is used by over 6,000 colleges, government organizations, and businesses worldwide. 98% of students taking the TOEFL take the test online. The TOEFL is designed to test what are usually considered the four necessary skills when learning another language: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. During the test, you will be required to do tasks that combine all four of these skills to test your proficiency with the overall language itself.
The test has four sections. Each section is graded on a 30-point scale, and the grades factor into an overall score out of 120. However, the required score for admission at your school of choice will be much lower. For example, at the University of Arkansas, a minimum score of 79 is required to be considered for admission. Sections of the TOEFL include:
- Reading: 4 academic passages, followed by multiple choice questions about the passages.
- Listening: Listen to lectures and classroom discussions and then answer questions about them.
- Dialogue: First, you will read a prompt, and then you will have 15 seconds to prepare a 45 second speaking response. As you respond, you must clearly support your opinions.
- Writing: You’ll have to write an essay comparing a passage you’ll read to a passage you’ll listen to, and you’ll have to write an essay supporting your opinion on a topic.
Signing up for the TOEFL is simple. All you need to do is create a TOEFL profile and choose a test center and date, then register your seat and make a payment. There are TOEFL test centers all around the world, and you can register anytime, but it is best to take your test at least two (2) or three (3) months before your earliest admissions application.
The IELTS test is used to assess whether or not you are capable of studying or training in an environment that relies on use of the English language. The test is accepted as evidence of proficiency in the English language by 10,000 institutions worldwide. The IELTS is graded on a scale of 0-9. At the University of Arkansas, you’ll need a 6.5 or higher to be considered for admission.
The test is divided into four sections:
- Listening: Listen to four recordings of conversations and monologues, and write your answers to a few questions about the recordings.
- Reading: 40 questions that are designed to test all necessary reading skills. You will read three long passages taken from books, journals, magazines, or newspapers, and answer questions about them.
- Writing: For the first task, you are given a graph, table, chart, or diagram, and asked to explain the information in your own words. For the second task, you will be asked to write an essay in response to an argument or a problem.
- Speaking: First, you’ll be asked general questions about yourself and your life for about five minutes. Next, you’ll receive a card with a certain topic. You’ll be given a minute of preparation time before you’re required to speak for two minutes about the topic, followed by a set of questions from the examiner, and then another set of questions that dive deeper and require you to discuss more abstract ideas. This last set typically lasts about five minutes.
To register for the IELTS, simply login to www.ieltsipdindia.com and select your test date and test city, and once you’ve made a payment, you’ll get your seat booked immediately.
Spring International Language Center
For applicants to some University of Arkansas graduate programs, the school offers conditional admission if you meet all requirements except English proficiency. You will be guaranteed admission to the program you’ve chosen if you attend Spring International Language Center for intensive English language training. Conditional admission is also available for international undergraduate students as well.
These classes focus on grammar, reading, listening, speaking, and writing, in addition to electives that students can choose each term such as a class designed specifically for TOEFL Preparation, a Conversation class, and a Business English class. Throughout the year, SILC offers five nine-week terms to help students quickly complete their English studies. If you reach level 6 of the program with B grades or higher, and you have received a recommendation from the director of SILC, you can enroll full-time as a student at University of Arkansas.