A few weeks back, I ran across a US university admissions policy that required a TOEFL score for any international student applying to the college. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily unusual but I was surprised that this policy mentioned that only TOEFL and IELTS were acceptable as part of admissions to the campus.
When I followed up with my colleague on the other side of the desk, explaining that my students had IGCSE 1st language English and was studying English A as part of their IBDP program, I was told that they would still have to submit an IELTS or a TOEFL score.
I was really curious as to the reasoning behind this policy.
Now, I want to be clear, I get that putting together an admissions policy around language is not easy and presents a significant challenge. I also get that universities want to be fair and transparent to all of their applicants. I also understand that admissions colleagues are under pressure and accountable for the levels of English that the students have that are admitted onto their programs.
I also understand that in some cases there may be visa and immigration requirements that require an institution to make students take the IELTS or TOEFL.
But, when these factors don’t apply, it seems like madness to my mind to be asking students to undertake another test even it is one that they can “bag” easily.
Firstly it adds another (unnecessary) cost to families during a process that is already expensive. Secondly it adds another level of uncertainty and stress to students who don’t always understand the reasons for it. Often they see it as another test that they need to take multiple times to get the best possible score even though the university is only looking for a score above a certain number. Thirdly, IB students are busy! They have coursework in 6 subjects, plus their Extended Essay (4000 words) plus their CAS projects plus their TOK essay (1600 words) and presentation (10 minutes).
By asking these students to take an extra test just because that’s what your policy states and for no other reason than, this is what other institutions we compare ourselves to are doing then that shows that:
- You don’t understand the IB Diploma Programme
- You don’t know what students are actually studying in Group 1 subjects of the IB Diploma Programme
- That you really don’t care.
Aside from the very good detailed subject briefs that show the sheer volume of literature group 1 subjects require students to engage with the IBO has even gone so far as to produce a signed letter by the director general explaining the equivalence of language A subjects and what these subjects actually assess.
If you are a university and requiring IBDP students who are studying English in group 1 to take an additional test for the sole reason that they reside in a country where English isn’t the national language then I will be counseling my students to not apply to you. At the very best it shows that you don’t value international students enough to actually find out what they are studying and at worst shows that you don’t really care.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts…