SAT and TOEFL: What You Need to Know About Each Test


Is English your second (or third or fourth) language? If it’s anything but your first, then you may have to take the TOEFL to get into university in the United States. The TOEFL is an English language test that shows you have the language skills to succeed in college.

As another admissions test, the TOEFL shares some similarities with the more ubiquitous SAT. This guide will compare the two tests, as well as give you some tips for preparing for both. If you’re a non-native English speaker planning to apply to a U.S. college, then read on to learn the ins and outs of your testing requirements.

What Tests Do Colleges Require?

Most four-year colleges require that all applicants, domestic and international alike,

take the



For this article, we’ll focus on the SAT as your admissions test of choice. You should note, though, that

either test is fine

, and colleges consider both equally. You should choose the one on which you can gain higher scores for your college applications.

If English isn’t your first language, then you’ll likely

also have to take the


to apply to college.

Colleges want you to show that you have the English language skills to succeed at the college level.

By the way, you also have some choice when it comes to the TOEFL. Most colleges will equally accept the


or PTE too. The TOEFL is the most popular option, though, so we’ll focus on that for now. Good to know you always have options!

So who should take the TOEFL? Pretty much

any student for whom English isn’t his/her first language.

For students who are fluent, this TOEFL requirement can get a little murky. Usually, if you’ve taken at least one ESL class in high school, then colleges want you to take the TOEFL. A few colleges, however, won’t require this test if you’ve been in English classes for the past two or three years.

There’s one other circumstance when a college would waive its TOEFL requirement. If you

score high enough on the verbal section of the SAT or ACT

, then you might not have to take the TOEFL. Since colleges vary in their policies, how can you find out more about your testing requirements?


Get out your trenchcoat, magnifying glass, and deerstalker cap. It’s time to do some detective work.

How Can You Find Your Colleges’ Testing Requirements?

While many colleges share the same requirements, some have their own additional policies, especially when it comes to the

SAT and TOEFL for international students

. To ensure that you understand exactly what you need, I highly recommend

researching the stances of each college that you’re interested in.

You should be able to find this information on each college’s admission website, specifically in a

section for international applicants.

Even if you’re a U.S. citizen, this section is usually the one that contains instructions for ESL speakers.

For instance, Tufts has a page called

The Admissions Process for International Students

with the following information:

All applicants whose primary language is not English must submit proof of English proficiency, unless they have been enrolled in an English instruction school for at least three years. Students with at least three years of study in a secondary school where the primary language is English do not need to submit English proficiency testing, though they may if they would like. Students enrolled in ESOL classes during secondary school may be asked for proof of proficiency.”

As you research your colleges’ requirements, remember that each college is unique, so each college’s admissions website is too. Some are easier to navigate than others, so if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, you shouldn’t hesitate to

contact the admissions office.

Since prepping for and taking the SAT and TOEFL takes several months, if not years, you’d be best served to start this research early.

Once you find the international applicants section of your prospective college’s admissions site,

what specifically should you look for?


Bring it in, team. What score do we need to win this college admission game?

What You Need to Know About TOEFL and SAT Requirements

There are

three main pieces of information

that you should seek as you research your school’s testing requirements.

#1: What Tests Are Required?

Of course, the first piece of information you’ll look for is

what tests you need in order to apply.

Most websites will have

step-by-step application instructions

and/or a checklist of application requirements. They’ll also tell you the school code to use in order to

add it as a score recipient

through your

College Board

(administers the SAT) or


(administers the TOEFL) account. Check to see whether your school requires applicants to send SAT scores, TOEFL scores, or both.

#2: Does Your School Have a TOEFL Cutoff?

If your school requires the TOEFL, check to see if it posts a

cutoff score,

like Tufts did above. Most schools don’t publicize a minimum SAT score, but they do have a minimum for TOEFL.

Penn State

, for example, requires a score on the TOEFL iBT of 80, while more selective schools like



Duke University

, and


require a minimum of 100. Once you know the cutoff, you can

set your target score about ten points higher

to be a competitive candidate.

#3: Will High SAT Scores Get You Out Of the TOEFL?

Finally, the third question you should ask during your research is

whether your school waives the TOEFL if you achieve a certain score on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section.

For example,

Columbia University

doesn’t require students to take the TOEFL if they score 700 or higher on EBRW.

Johns Hopkins

doesn’t require the TOEFL, but it does recommend it for students who score lower than 690 on EBRW.

The University of Michigan

also drops its TOEFL requirement for students who score at least 650 on the EBRW section.

Some schools accept SAT EBRW scores as a substitute for TOEFL scores because proficiency on SAT verbal questions typically correlates to strong English language skills.


the two tests still have a lot of differences.

Let’s take a closer look at these two exams, along with what skills they test and how. You’ll notice that they’re distinct enough to require their own unique prep methods and materials. First, let’s examine the TOEFL.


How’s your vocabulary? The TOEFL is all about your English language skills.

The TOEFL: Structure, Content, and Prep

The TOEFL is a test of your English language skills. In most countries, it’s

given on the computer.

There’s also a

paper-based test

, but it’s being phased out and is only offered in countries where testing online isn’t available. Currently 98% of people taking the TOEFL take the computer version. Unless you’re taking the TOEFL by paper, you’ll want to look for your college’s TOEFL iBT (Internet-based test) cutoff.

Let’s take a closer look at how the TOEFL tests your English level, starting with its overall format.

TOEFL Structure: What the Test Looks Like

The TOEFL has four sections:

Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing

, in that order. The Reading and Listening sections can actually vary in length, depending on whether or not you get an exam that features extra questions. Not to worry – these extra questions will be unscored. Unfortunately, they will also be unidentified. In other words, if you get

experimental questions

, you won’t know which ones they are.

This chart shows the length of and number of questions in each TOEFL section, along with a brief description of tasks. Experimental questions, you’ll notice, can make the Reading and Listening sections significantly longer than normal.



Time Limit


1 Reading 54–72 minutes 30–40 questions Read 3 or 4 passages from academic texts and answer questions.
2 Listening 41–57 minutes 28–39 questions Listen to lectures, classroom discussions and conversations, then answer questions.
Break 10 minutes
3 Speaking 17 minutes 4 tasks Express an opinion on a familiar topic; speak based on reading and listening tasks.
4 Writing 50 minutes 2 tasks Write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks; support an opinion in writing.

2 hours, 52 min – 3 hours, 26 min (break included)

Source: ETS

Each of the four sections on the TOEFL is scored between 0 and 30 points. Your overall scores reflect the sum of your section scores and will fall at or

between 0 and 120 points.

Now that you have a sense of the test’s overall format, let’s take a closer look at exactly how it tests your Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing skills.


Bookworms rejoice! The first section on the TOEFL’s all about reading.

TOEFL Content: Questions and Skills

As you see in the chart above, the TOEFL tests your English language level across all important skill areas: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Read on for a closer look at what you’ll be expected to demonstrate in each section, starting with Reading. You can

find the examples in their entirety

on the

TOEFL iBT practice questions

provided by ETS.

TOEFL Reading

The Reading section contains

3 or 4 passages

, usually selected from college-level textbooks. The passages may be expository, argument-based, or historical. Each is followed by multiple choice questions that ask you about elements like the

main point

, important details, relationships between ideas, and vocabulary.

The following examples, which are based on a


, ask about a supporting detail and a vocabulary word in context:

According to paragraph 3, how did scientists determine that a large meteorite had impacted Earth?

A. They discovered a large crater in the Yucatán region of Mexico.

B. They found a unique layer of sediment worldwide.

C. They were alerted by archaeologists who had been excavating in the Yucatán region.

D. They located a meteorite with a mass of over a trillion tons.

The word “excavating” on line 25 is closest in meaning to

A. digging out

B. extending

C. destroying

D. covering up

In addition to these multiple choice, there are

a few “sentence insertion” questions

that ask you to add a sentence into the text where it would fit best. The following is an example of a sentence insertion question.

Look at the four letters (A, B, C, and D) that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage in paragraph 6.

This is the criterion emphasized by Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Where would the above sentence best fit?

Impacts by meteorites represent one mechanism that could cause global catastrophes and seriously influence the evolution of life all over the planet. (A) According to some estimates, the majority of all extinctions of species may be due to such impacts. (B) Such a perspective fundamentally changes our view of biological evolution. (C) The standard criterion for the survival of a species is its success in competing with other species and adapting to slowly changing environments. (D) Yet an equally important criterion is the ability of a species to survive random global ecological catastrophes due to impacts.

Choose the place where the sentence fits best.

  1. Option A
  2. Option B
  3. Option C
  4. Option D

There are also

a few “Reading to Learn” questions

that contain several correct answers. To answer these, you must sort the information into a chart, often placing each piece of information into a category or chronological order. Since these questions are more involved than other types, they’re often worth several points and have the potential for partial credit.

The following is an example of a

Reading to Learn question

on the Reading section of the TOEFL.

An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

Write your answer choices in the spaces where they belong. You can write in the number of the answer choice or the whole sentence.

Scientists have linked the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous with a meteorite impact on Earth.
  1. Scientists had believed for centuries that meteorite activity influenced evolution on Earth.
  2. The site of the large meteorite impact at the end of the Cretaceous period was identified in 1990.
  3. There have also been large meteorite impacts on the surface of the Moon, leaving craters like Tycho.
  4. An iridium-enriched sediment layer and a large impact crater in the Yucatán provide evidence that a large meteorite struck Earth about 65 million years ago.
  5. Large meteorite impacts, such as one at the end of the Cretaceous period, can seriously affect climate, ecological niches, plants, and animals.
  6. Meteorite impacts can be advantageous for some species, which thrive, and disastrous for other species, which become extinct.

As you’ll see below, the multiple choice questions that ask you to interpret the main point, details, and vocab words in a passage

resemble the Reading questions on the SAT.

The sentence insertion questions share some similarity with certain SAT Writing questions. Reading to Learn questions, though, are unique to the TOEFL.

Now that you have a sense of how the TOEFL tests your reading skills, let’s take a closer look at how it tests your English listening comprehension.

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TOEFL Listening

The Listening section asks you to

listen to academic lectures and/or conversations between students or a professional and a student.

You can take notes as you listen to prepare for the questions that follow. Some of these questions will be straightforward multiple choice, on which you’ll choose one answer that best describes the main point or important details of the listening.

For instance, this is a straightforward listening question about the main point of a conversation between a student and her basketball coach:

What are the speakers mainly discussing?

A. How the woman should prepare for the next game

B. The woman’s responsibilities as team captain

C. Things that happened while the woman was away

D. The style of the new team uniforms

Other multiple choice questions ask you to choose two correct answers out of four choices. Like in the Reading section, there are a few questions that ask you to

list events in a process or place answers into certain categories.

These various question types test your basic comprehension of the listening. They also want to make sure you understand the speaker’s purpose, sometimes even asking how certain he/she is about what he/she’s saying. Questions may ask about cause and effect or the organization of ideas in a lecture. All of these questions are meant to ensure that you’d be able to

comprehend a lecture or class discussion in a university setting.

After Listening, you’ll get a ten-minute break to stretch and regroup. Then it’s on to Speaking.


For the third section, be prepared to speak. You’ll actually be speaking into a computer, as your graders will probably be somewhere in New Jersey.

TOEFL Speaking

The Speaking section is much shorter than the previous two at

only 17 minutes.

You’ll get one “independent speaking” tasks and three “integrated speaking” tasks.

Question 1 is an independent speaking task.

It’ll ask you to speak for 45 seconds on familiar topics. You can talk about your own ideas, opinions, observations, or experiences. You’ll have 15 seconds to prepare your answer. Here’s an example of an independent speaking question:


Some people enjoy taking risks and trying new things. Others are not adventurous; they are cautious and prefer to avoid danger. Which behavior do you think is better? Explain why.

Questions 3 and 4 are integrated speaking tasks.

They’ll ask you both to read a short passage and listen to a related lecture or conversation. Then you’ll speak for 45 seconds using information from both sources. You’ll have 30 seconds to prepare.

Question 5 is similar, but it

only involves a listening

, no reading. You’ll prepare your response for 20 seconds and speak for 60 seconds.

This example is based on a conversation between two students about their calculus class.


Briefly summarize the problem the speakers are discussing. Then state which solution you would recommend. Explain the reasons for your recommendation.

As you can see, the Speaking section tests your ability to speak on your own opinions and experiences, as well as your ability to summarize information and main ideas from readings and audio. These Speaking tasks are unique to the TOEFL;

you won’t find them on the SAT.

Finally, you’ll round out your demonstration of English language skills on the TOEFL Writing section.


Unlike the handwritten SAT essay, you’ll type your responses on the Writing section of the TOEFL iBT.

TOEFL Writing

You’ve read, listened, and spoken your way through this challenging exam. Now it’s time to write! You’ll get two prompts, one that’s called

an integrated writing task and the other labeled as an independent writing task.

Like with the integrated speaking task, the integrated writing task asks you to

read a short passage and listen to a lecture or conversation.

Then you’ll get a question that asks you to summarize the main points of what you read and heard and perhaps compare or contrast the two. You’ll get 20 minutes, and your response should be 150 to 225 words.

The integrated writing task often looks like this:


Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage.

The independent writing task resembles the independent speaking task in that it asks you to

express your personal opinion and support it with examples.

Your essay should be at least 300 words, and you’ll have 30 minutes to write it.

Here’s one example of an independent writing task:


Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A teacher’s ability to relate well with students is more important than excellent knowledge of the subject being taught. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Since you’re typing on the computer, there will be a counter below the text box for both tasks that

tells you your total word count.

Both essays are initially

graded between 0 and 5

, and you can

consult the rubric

to see what you need to accomplish to score at each level. A strong grasp of grammar, word choice, and organization is important for doing well on the Writing section.

Once you’ve finished the Writing section, you’re all done with the TOEFL. You’ll get your scores online about ten days after you take the test. Before moving onto the SAT so you can compare the two tests, let’s briefly discuss the

importance of test prep

for succeeding on this challenging exam.


You’ll need to practice saying your responses, not just writing them. Sadly, there are no bonus points for singing them.

Prepping for the TOEFL

Even if you have an advanced level of English,

you’ll need to prep to do well on the TOEFL.

It’s a unique test with strict time limits, and anyone who’s taken it will tell you that you should show up equipped with knowledge of the question types and strategies for time management.

The Speaking section is especially atypical with its oral essays. While 45 to 60 seconds may not sound like a lot, it’s actually a big challenge for most students. Learning to

structure your oral responses

with an introduction, supporting details, and a conclusion just like you would a written essay is an unusual task that requires serious preparation.

It’s a good idea to give yourself

several months to prep for the TOEFL.

You might start with a timed practice test to diagnose your starting level. Then you can analyze your results, find your weaknesses, and figure out what you most need to study from there.

The test-makers recommend that you’ve

studied English for at least two years

before taking the test. Since the readings are taken from university textbooks, most students need to be at a high intermediate or advanced level to do well on this test.

You can find several TOEFL preparation books online, but make sure to

incorporate official questions

from the testmakers into your prep, as these will be the best representation of the actual test. You can find

sample questions

on the TOEFL website, as well as official ETS TOEFL books and an online prep program.

Just like with the SAT, you should start several months before your test date. If possible, you might also

leave two or more available test dates

after your first one in case you want to retake the TOEFL to improve your scores.

Now that you have some insight into the TOEFL, let’s take a closer look at the SAT. Beyond this overview, you can learn more about the SAT by exploring our articles on

test content



, and


. As you read about each section,

pay attention to the ways in which it’s similar to the TOEFL and the ways in which it’s different.


While the TOEFL’s all about your English language level, the SAT is more concerned with your reasoning and problem-solving skills.

SAT: Structure, Skills, and Prep

While the TOEFL tests your English language skills, the SAT is concerned with testing your reasoning and problem-solving skills. It’s scored based on two main areas: Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Math. Read on to learn more about the

overall structure of the SAT


SAT Structure: What the Test Looks Like

The SAT, which is scored on a scale from 400 to 1600, has four sections,

Reading, Writing and Language, Math No Calculator, and Math with Calculator

, in that order. This chart gives an overview of the test’s structure:



Time in Minutes

# of Questions
1 Reading 65 52
2 Writing and Language 35 44
3 Math No Calculator 25 20
4 Math Calculator 55 38

3 hours 154

You’ll get a

five-minute break after about every hour

of testing. That means you’ll have a short break after Reading and after Math No Calculator. We have several comprehensive guides that dig deeply into the content and question types of each section. For the purposes of this article, let’s briefly review the content and skills of each section.


The SAT doesn’t just ask about reading and writing. It tests you on a lot of math, too.

SAT Content: Questions and Skills

The SAT is

half verbal and half math.

The verbal sections include a Reading and a Writing and Language section, and the math is split into a calculator prohibited and a calculator permitted section. Below, you can read more about what skills each section tests and the question types it uses to do so. You can also find the sample questions in College Board’s

official SAT practice tests


SAT Reading

SAT Reading shares some similarities with TOEFL Reading. You’ll also have to read passages and answer multiple choice questions about their main idea, supporting details, and


. On the SAT, you’ll get

five passages

, one from literature, two based on history/social studies, and two from science. While you won’t get any prose selections on the TOEFL, you will get one on the

SAT Reading


The questions will test your comprehension, and because it’s strictly timed, you’ll mostly need to skim the passages for important details. Some of the questions will be evidence-based, meaning they’ll ask you to locate evidence in the text that serves as the reason for your answer to a previous question. For instance, here’s a

detail-oriented comprehension question followed by an evidence-based question:

1. The passage indicates that, after a long day of work, the narrator sometimes found his living quarters to be

A) treacherous.

B) dreary.

C) predictable.

D) intolerable.

2. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

A) Lines 17-21 (“I should… scenes”)

B) Lines 21-23 (“I should… lodgings”)

C) Lines 64-67 (“Thoughts… phrases”)

D) Lines 68-74 (“I walked… gleam”)

All of the questions will be

multiple choice with four answer choices.

A few of the questions will ask you to interpret a graphic, like a chart or table, often asking how it relates to the text in the passage.

Your Reading performance will be combined with your Writing and Language performance to give you

one Evidence-based Reading and Writing score between 200 and 800.

Read on to learn how the Writing and Language section, which will be your second section on the SAT, differs from Reading.

SAT Writing and Language


SAT Writing and Language

, often referred to as just SAT Writing, tests your knowledge of

English grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.

It also asks about the

organization of ideas

and paragraph structure. The entire section is multiple choice, and every question is passage-based.

Writing questions

ask you to be an editor.

They’ll ask whether or not a word, detail, or organization scheme is correct, and, if not, it asks you to choose a better option. You’ll basically work to improve the grammar, punctuation, style, and structure of a paragraph.

These next few questions, for example, ask about grammar (subject-verb agreement) and inserting a sentence to clarify meaning:


There are a few questions in the TOEFL Reading section that ask you to insert a sentence in a passage to improve its meaning. As you see in the example above,

SAT Writing

asks similar questions. It also goes one step further by asking you


you would insert a sentence into a passage.

For students whose native language is not English, the

Writing section, along with the Reading section, can be especially challenging.

Once you finish up this section, you’ll move immediately onto a math section. For this 25-minute section, you’re not allowed to use a calculator.


For one of the two SAT math sections, you’ll have to keep your calculator packed away in your bag.

SAT Math No Calculator

The math sections are where the SAT completely diverges from the TOEFL. These sections are meant to ensure that students have the

conceptual and problem solving skills to do well in college.

Most of the questions are based on


, but there are a few that incorporate geometry, trigonometry, and complex numbers. International students often have an easier time on the math sections since they don’t have as much emphasis on advanced English language skills.

The redesigned SAT, however, incorporates

several word problems.

Some reading comprehension, therefore, is still important on the math section, as you can see in this sample SAT word problem:

A musician has a new song available for downloading or streaming. The musician earns $0.09 each time the song is downloaded and $0.002 each time the song is streamed. Which of the following expressions represents the amount, in dollars, that the musician earns if the song is downloaded d times and streamed s times.

  1. 0.002d + 0.09s
  2. 0.002d – 0.09s
  3. 0.09d + 0.002s
  4. 0.09d – 0.002s

On this shorter math section, you

can’t use a calculator


Most questions won’t require complex calculations. Rather, they’ll test your conceptual understanding. You’ll find more questions that call for calculations on the next math section.

SAT Math with Calculator

You’re allowed to use a calculator on the longer of the two

SAT math sections

. Not all problems, however, will necessarily require one. It’s your job to figure out when a calculator’s useful and when it would just slow you down.

Like the other math section, the Math with Calculator asks

a lot of algebra questions

, along with a few geometry and trigonometry. It also has a strong emphasis on Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions, which ask you to work with rates, ratios, percentages, and data from graphs and tables. Here’s one example of a Problem Solving and Data Analysis question on the SAT Math with Calculator:

Number of hours Tony plans to read the novel per day 3
Number of parts in the novel 8
Number of chapters in the novel 239
Number of words Tony reads per minute 250
Number of pages in the novel 1,078
Number of words in the novel 349,168

Tony is planning to read a novel. The table above shows information about the novel, Tony’s reading speed, and the amount of time he plans to spend reading the novel each day. If Tony reads at the rates given in the table, which of the following is closest to the number of days it would take Tony to read the entire novel?

  1. 6
  2. 8
  3. 23

  4. 324

Unlike the TOEFL, math is an important part of prepping for and taking the SAT. In fact, your

performance on math

will make up half of your total SAT score. As mentioned above, the Essay section is optional, and as such, it won’t count toward your total score. Let’s briefly review the SAT Essay section. Make sure to notice how much it differs from TOEFL Writing.


Prepping for the SAT

The SAT is a challenging test for all students, including native English speakers. Developing

strong English language skills is an important part of doing well

, as is familiarizing yourself with the test content, question types, and strategies for answering questions and

managing your time


An important first step is

getting to know the structure and format of the test.

You should explore the types of question that will pop up in the Reading, Writing, and Math sections. Using high-quality

practice materials

is also key. Make sure yours review exactly what will appear on the test and pair content review with realistic practice questions.

Just like the TOEFL, you might start your prep with a diagnostic practice test. Root out your weak spots, and target them with your studying. Non-native English speakers might especially focus on strategies for reading the passages in Reading and Writing and studying

rules of grammar

, usage, punctuation, and structure. ESL students should also practice word problems in math. A third important area to study is the

data interpretation questions that will show up on all sections of the SAT.

How long you prep for the SAT depends on your starting level, and you should define your target scores by researching your

prospective colleges’ expectations

. It’s best to start several months before your first test and to

leave yourself additional testing dates

in case you want to

retake it and improve

. Many colleges will

take your highest section scores

and recombine them into the best possible total score, so taking the SAT more than once, if possible, is usually in your best interest.

Now that you have a sense of both tests, let’s

review their similarities and differences.


Comparing the SAT and TOEFL reveals some similarities, but in other ways, it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

SAT vs TOEFL: Similarities and Differences

The TOEFL and SAT are largely different tests, but there are a few areas in which they overlap. For one thing, they’re both required for international or (some) ESL students applying to college in the US. As admissions tests, they

demand a good deal of preparation and planning.

Before even preparing to take the tests, you need to understand their scoring scales and what scores you need to get into college.

Since both tests require an advanced level of English, any preparation you do for one will help you to some extent on the other. The

Reading sections especially have some overlap

, requiring you to read college-level passages and comprehend their main idea and details. Both tests also ask you to edit the structure, flow, and meaning of a passage. As you read above, this commonality means that some colleges will waive the TOEFL requirement if students can demonstrate their English language skills by scoring highly on

SAT verbal


The TOEFL is especially

unique due to its Listening and Speaking sections.

These two sections are specifically geared to measure the English language level of test-takers. While the TOEFL is all about the English language, the

SAT is half math

. It wants to make sure you meet certain benchmarks as a math student and can demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

Both the SAT and TOEFL are fast-paced, timed admissions tests that are

essential to realizing your college goals.

For the most part, you should treat them as separate exams that call for their own

study plan

and test-taking strategies.

In closing, let’s review the

main points that non-native English speakers should remember

about these two important exams.


The SAT and TOEFL take a lot of prep and planning, but in the end, they’re your passport to the college of your choice!

What to Remember About the SAT and TOEFL

Most non-native English speakers applying to college in the U.S. will be

required to take the TOEFL and the SAT

(or ACT, if you prefer). The TOEFL shows that you have the English language skills to succeed at the college level. The SAT is meant to test all students on an equal playing field and evaluate their reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Since the SAT requires advanced English language skills, it may be cause to waive the TOEFL requirement. You should

check with your prospective colleges early in the college planning process to learn about their policies.

Unless you’re scoring very highly on

SAT practice tests

, I wouldn’t suggest ignoring the TOEFL on the assumption that you won’t have to take it. You wouldn’t want to put it off and then run out of time to prep or test dates to improve your scores.

Even though you probably won’t

apply to college

until senior year, you should start preparing for and taking the SAT and TOEFL much earlier. By readying these components of your application early and achieving your target scores, you’ll have

a huge number of options

when it comes time to apply to college.

What’s Next?

Are you an international student applying to college in the US?

Check out our complete guide on how to apply to college as an international student, step by step


Are you wondering where to apply?

This article will help you

research colleges and find the ones that are the best fit for you


Another key factor in planning your tests and other parts of your application are college deadlines.

This article discusses the

important college deadlines you can’t miss


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