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Do I Need to Pass an English Language Test to Study in the United States?

January 6, 2016

English is the primary language of the United States, and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) does not regulate how well an international student must speak the language in order to study in this country.

SEVP does require that prospective F-1 and M-1 students receive acceptance into an SEVP-certified school or program.  As it is difficult to attend classes in a different language, many SEVP‑certified schools require a certain level of English proficiency for admittance.  Since these language requirements are often a part of the overall school admissions process, the requirements are specific to each school.

Remember, your prospective school must make sure you fully meet all of their standards for admission to one of their programs. In order to receive a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” SEVP-certified schools may require prospective international students to pass an English language test or prove their ability to speak, read and write in English. Or, if you are coming to the United States to study English as a Second Language (ESL), a test can help your school determine at what level you should study.

There are two common English proficiency tests that many SEVP-certified schools use to gauge a prospective student’s command of the language:

Both tests are meant to measure a non-native English speaker’s ability to understand the language. You will receive a score when you finish completing the test, which will help SEVP-certified schools determine whether you meet their English language proficiency requirement or the level of ESL training you may need. .

If you have questions about an English language requirement, or any other admissions criteria, consult the SEVP-certified school you wish to attend. If you have not applied yet and do not have an assigned designated school official, visit the school’s website and reach out to its admissions office.

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