Is TOEFL A Scholarship Exam? All You Need To Know

Is TOEFL A Scholarship Exam

TOEFL, an acronym that stands for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a widely recognized standardized test designed to evaluate an individual’s proficiency in the English language. It is a critical assessment tool for non-native English speakers seeking to pursue higher education, work, or immigration opportunities in English-speaking countries.

Is TOEFL A Scholarship Exam?

TOEFL, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language, is not a scholarship exam in the traditional sense. Rather, TOEFL serves as an assessment tool for evaluating an individual’s proficiency in the English language, primarily for non-native speakers who wish to pursue higher education or career opportunities in English-speaking countries. However, TOEFL scores can indirectly impact scholarship opportunities.

Many educational institutions and scholarship providers use TOEFL scores as one of the criteria for awarding scholarships. A high TOEFL score can enhance your chances of receiving financial aid, as it demonstrates your ability to excel in an English-language academic environment. So, while TOEFL itself isn’t a scholarship exam, performing well on it can certainly open doors to scholarship opportunities that rely on English language proficiency as a key criterion.

Overview of the purpose and significance of TOEFL

The TOEFL exam plays a pivotal role in determining one’s ability to communicate effectively in English, a skill that is indispensable in various academic and professional settings. It is used by universities, colleges, and other institutions to gauge the language capabilities of international applicants, ensuring they can succeed in English-medium academic programs. Moreover, TOEFL scores are often required by immigration authorities and employers as a measure of English language competency.

Preview of the discussion on whether TOEFL is a scholarship exam

This discussion aims to delve into the question of whether TOEFL can be considered a scholarship exam. While its primary role is to assess language proficiency, some institutions and scholarship programs utilize TOEFL scores as one of the criteria for awarding scholarships. In this expository content, we will explore the various facets of TOEFL, from its test format to its role in determining eligibility for scholarships.

Understanding TOEFL

 Explanation of the TOEFL test format and sections

The TOEFL exam is structured into four main sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each section assesses different language skills, collectively providing a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s English proficiency. The Reading and Listening sections consist of multiple-choice questions, while the Speaking and Writing sections require test-takers to convey their thoughts and ideas in spoken and written form.

Discussion of the primary purpose of TOEFL, which is assessing English language proficiency

The core objective of TOEFL is to assess a test-taker’s ability to understand, use, and communicate in the English language. It does so by evaluating various aspects such as reading comprehension, listening comprehension, spoken communication, and writing skills. This assessment serves as a critical benchmark for determining an individual’s readiness to engage in English-medium academic or professional environments.

Overview of the types of institutions and programs that require TOEFL scores

TOEFL scores are often mandatory for international students applying to universities and colleges in English-speaking countries. In addition to higher education institutions, TOEFL results are also required for various other purposes, including immigration applications, professional licensing, and job applications in multinational companies. Its significance extends far beyond academia, influencing various facets of an individual’s life and career.

Scholarships and TOEFL

 Explanation of how TOEFL scores are sometimes used as a criterion for scholarships

TOEFL scores are occasionally utilized as one of the criteria for awarding scholarships to international students. This practice is based on the rationale that English proficiency is a crucial skill for academic success, and scholarships aim to support students who can excel in English-medium educational environments. Institutions and scholarship providers may set specific TOEFL score thresholds that applicants must meet to be eligible for financial aid.

4 Examples of scholarships that consider TOEFL scores

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is one of the most recognized English language proficiency tests in the world. Institutions, particularly in English-speaking countries, use TOEFL scores to assess the English proficiency of non-native speakers. Many scholarships also consider TOEFL scores as a part of their selection criteria. Below are some examples:

1. Scholarships considering TOEFL scores

Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP): This scholarship program for graduate students often requires proof of English proficiency, which can be demonstrated with a TOEFL score.

2. Fulbright Program

This is a widely recognized U.S. international exchange program, which offers scholarships to students, scholars, and professionals. TOEFL scores are often part of the application requirements.

3. Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees

These scholarships for international master’s courses in the European Union often require English proficiency scores, including the TOEFL.

4. United World Colleges (UWC) Scholarships

While the application requirements can vary depending on the specific UWC school, many of them consider TOEFL scores as proof of English proficiency.

Countries that consider TOEFL scores

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a widely recognized English language proficiency test. Most countries with institutions that offer programs in English accept TOEFL scores. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of countries where a significant number of institutions accept TOEFL scores:

1. United States

Almost all universities and colleges that offer programs in English accept TOEFL scores for international student admissions.

2. Canada

While many Canadian institutions prefer the IELTS, they also accept TOEFL scores.

3. United Kingdom

Even though IELTS is more commonly recognized in the UK, numerous universities and colleges accept TOEFL as well.

4. Australia

Institutions in Australia, known for a significant international student population, accept TOEFL scores.

5. New Zealand

New Zealand’s major institutions recognize TOEFL.

6. European countries such as:

  • Germany: Many universities accept TOEFL for programs taught in English.
  • France: For their English-taught programs, many institutions accept TOEFL.
  • Netherlands: Universities with programs in English often recognize TOEFL scores.
  • Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland: Many universities in these Nordic countries accept TOEFL scores for their English-taught programs.
  • Spain, Italy, and Portugal: Many universities in these countries accept TOEFL for English-medium programs.

7. Asian countries like:

  • India: While the primary language of instruction is not always English, many institutions that do offer English programs accept TOEFL.
  • China: Major universities that have programs in English accept TOEFL scores.
  • Japan and South Korea: Top universities that offer programs in English recognize TOEFL scores.
  • Singapore: Being an English-speaking nation, its universities accept TOEFL.
  • Malaysia and Thailand: Institutions offering English-medium programs often accept TOEFL.

8. Middle East:

Countries like the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, which have numerous international universities and campuses, accept TOEFL scores.
Latin America: Many universities in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina that offer programs in English accept TOEFL scores.

9. Africa

In countries with significant English-medium higher education, like South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, TOEFL is widely recognized.

3 Universities In USA That Accept TOEFL

1. Princeton University

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL iBT Score: minimum total score of 90 to 100 for undergraduate and 108 for graduate
Ranked 7th in world university rankings, Princeton University continues to be the world’s most prestigious higher education institution, with Nobel Prize-awarded faculty members and advanced research centers. The university stands out for its Engineering and Architecture departments.

Just as Princeton offers the greatest opportunities to its international students, the university is highly selective when accepting prospective students. The minimum TOEFL iBT score varies depending on the type or degree of program, yet the average total score starts from 90 and goes up to 108 or more. For more details, please check Princeton’s program catalog for undergraduate and graduate programs.

2. University of Chicago

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL iBT Score: minimum 104 TOEFL iBT total score or more for undergraduate and postgraduate programs
The University of Chicago is one of the most innovative and long-established research universities in the world with a motto, let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched. It continuously provides great opportunities for international students in fields such as Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, Biology, and more.

UChicago is a competitive university with high expectations from its students. International students are charged $63,801 per academic year with several scholarship opportunities. They must also prove their English proficiency by taking a TOEFL iBT exam to be able to complete their application to any program at the university successfully. Although requirements can differ depending on the type or degree of program, an average minimum TOEFL iBT score requirement is stated to be 104 for all types of degrees.

3. Cornell University

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL iBT Score: minimum 100 TOEFL iBT total score for undergraduate and graduate programs
Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is one of the best universities in the USA, with an acceptance rate of 9%. Each of the university’s undergraduate faculties regulates autonomously, yet all graduates receive a diploma from Cornell University. One of its highly-recognized faculty is Cornell’s Business School. Additionally, Cornell’s annual tuition fee is estimated to be $65,204 with plenteous scholarship opportunities. TOEFL iBT score requirements may differ for certain study degrees or programs; this is why it is important to check the program-specific requirements on Cornell’s program catalog before the application.

When it comes to accepting international students, Cornell University has strict requirements, and English proficiency is one of them. To be accepted as a student at Cornell, international applicants must prove their English proficiency with a minimum TOEFL iBT score of 100 for most study programs. However, the higher you get, the more likely you increase your chances for acceptance.

3 Universities In CANADA That Accept TOEFL

1. University of Toronto

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL iBT Score: minimum of 100
The University of Toronto is one of Canada’s most prestigious and best-known universities. It is a public research university funded by the state. It is a world leader in inventions, start-ups, licenses, and options based on research. Located at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario, the university is right at the very center of a vibrant and diverse community.

More than 700 undergraduate programs in various disciplines such as the Humanities and Social Sciences, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Computer Sciences, and Engineering, as well as more than 300 postgraduate programs, are available for international students. The language requirement for admission into the university is a minimum TOEFL score of 100, with 22 for the writing section. A discretionary range of 89-99 with 22 for writing may also be accepted.

2. University of Alberta

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL iBT Score: minimum of 90
The University of Alberta is one of the oldest universities in Canada, established in 1908. It is ranked as the top 5 university in the country and is in the top 120 all over the world. It prides itself on offering a rich and meaningful experience on top of high-quality educational standards. With over 200 undergraduate programs and more than 500 graduate programs, the most popular selections are Nursing, Engineering, Chemistry, and Agriculture Science. To get into these programs, aspiring students must present a TOEFL score of at least 90, with no less than 21 in all skill sections.

3. Concordia University

University Language Requirement Page
TOEFL Score: minimum of 95
Concordia University is hailed as an innovative and diverse learning environment located in the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Quebec. It is defined by a culture of excellence, experiential learning, and cross-functional research.

The university offers a very diverse range of programs for graduate and undergraduate studies which include Aerospace Engineering, Biochemistry, Business Studies, Entrepreneurship, History, Political Science, and more. A minimum TOEFL score of 95 is required for admission, with no skill section below 20.

Discussion of the relationship between English proficiency and academic success in scholarship eligibility

The consideration of TOEFL scores in scholarship eligibility is often rooted in the belief that a strong command of English is essential for academic achievement. In English-medium educational settings, students must comprehend complex academic texts, engage in discussions, and write research papers—all of which demand advanced language skills. Therefore, assessing English proficiency through TOEFL scores can be seen as a reasonable criterion for ensuring that scholarship recipients can thrive academically in their chosen programs.

Critiques and Counterarguments

 Exploring potential criticisms of using TOEFL as a scholarship criterion

While the use of TOEFL scores for scholarship eligibility is not uncommon, it does invite criticism. Some argue that it may create barriers for otherwise deserving candidates who, despite excellent academic records, may not perform as well on standardized English language tests. Critics also contend that standardized tests may not accurately represent an applicant’s true language abilities, as factors like test anxiety or cultural differences can influence scores.

Addressing counterarguments in favor of TOEFL as a scholarship exam

Counterarguments in favor of using TOEFL scores for scholarships emphasize the need for a standardized measure of English proficiency. They argue that TOEFL provides an objective and consistent way to assess language skills, which is crucial in competitive scholarship selection processes. Additionally, proponents contend that scholarships that require TOEFL scores can encourage international students to improve their language proficiency, ultimately enhancing their academic and career prospects.

Considering alternative ways to assess English proficiency for scholarships

To address the critiques and find a middle ground, some scholarship providers may consider alternative ways to assess English proficiency. These alternatives could include interviews, written essays, or recommendations from English instructors. Such methods may offer a more holistic view of an applicant’s language abilities while still ensuring that scholarship recipients can excel in English-medium academic environments.

Critiques and Counterarguments

Exploring potential criticisms of using TOEFL as a scholarship criterion

1. Standardized Testing Limitations

Critics argue that standardized tests like TOEFL have limitations, including cultural bias and the potential to favor test-taking skills over true language proficiency. This could result in qualified candidates being unfairly excluded from scholarships due to lower test scores.

2. Financial Accessibility

Some contend that the cost of taking the TOEFL exam and preparing for it can be prohibitive, potentially excluding candidates who lack the financial means to access test preparation resources.

3. One-Dimensional Assessment

Critics maintain that relying solely on TOEFL scores may oversimplify language proficiency assessment, ignoring other important factors like communication skills, fluency in real-world contexts, and adaptability in diverse academic environments.

Addressing counterarguments in favor of TOEFL as a scholarship exam

1. Objective Evaluation

Proponents argue that standardized tests provide an objective and consistent measure of language proficiency, ensuring a level playing field for applicants from diverse backgrounds.

2. Merit-Based Scholarships

Institutions and scholarship providers assert that TOEFL scores are valuable for merit-based scholarships, as they help identify candidates with strong academic potential and English language skills.

3. Motivation for Improvement

Scholarships with TOEFL requirements can serve as motivators for students to enhance their English proficiency, preparing them better for success in English-speaking academic environments.

Considering alternative ways to assess English proficiency for scholarships

1. In-Person Interviews

Scholarship panels could consider conducting interviews or oral examinations to assess an applicant’s spoken English proficiency, allowing evaluators to interact directly with candidates.

2. Written Essays

Requiring applicants to submit essays or written responses on specific topics can showcase their writing skills and ability to express themselves in English.

3. Recommendations

Letters of recommendation from English teachers or professors can provide insights into a candidate’s language proficiency, particularly in academic contexts.

Summarizing the key points of the discussion

In summary, the question of whether TOEFL should be considered a scholarship exam is a nuanced one. TOEFL scores are sometimes used as criteria for scholarships, with the intention of assessing an applicant’s English proficiency and their readiness for academic success in English-speaking institutions. However, this practice is not without its criticisms and counterarguments.

Offering a balanced perspective on whether TOEFL should be considered a scholarship exam

The decision to use TOEFL scores for scholarships depends on the goals and priorities of scholarship providers and institutions. While TOEFL provides an objective measure of language proficiency, it must be considered alongside other factors, such as financial accessibility and the potential for standardized testing limitations. Institutions and scholarship panels should carefully weigh these factors when making scholarship eligibility decisions.


The question of whether TOEFL should be considered a scholarship exam is multifaceted. TOEFL primarily serves as a standardized test for evaluating English language proficiency, but it is occasionally used as a criterion for scholarships, particularly those targeting international students. While this practice has its merits in ensuring that scholarship recipients are academically prepared for English-medium institutions, it is not without its criticisms, including concerns about standardized testing limitations and accessibility. Ultimately, the decision to use TOEFL scores for scholarships should be made thoughtfully, considering the goals and priorities of scholarship providers and institutions while striving to maintain fairness and equity in scholarship eligibility.


1. Why do some scholarship programs require TOEFL scores?

Some scholarship programs require TOEFL scores as a criterion to ensure that scholarship recipients possess the necessary English language skills to excel in English-speaking academic environments. It serves as a measure of readiness for English-medium education.

2. Are TOEFL scores the sole criteria for scholarship eligibility?

Generally, TOEFL scores are not the sole criteria for scholarship eligibility. They are often used alongside other factors such as academic achievements, essays, and letters of recommendation. The weight of TOEFL scores in the selection process varies among scholarship programs.

3. What are the alternatives to using TOEFL scores for scholarship eligibility?

Alternatives to TOEFL scores for assessing English proficiency for scholarships may include in-person interviews, written essays, or letters of recommendation from English instructors. These methods provide a more comprehensive view of a candidate’s language skills and capabilities beyond standardized testing.

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