DOES THE TOEFL REALLY EXPIRE?

If you have already decided to take the test, you have probably read that the TOEFL expires. Obviously this is not good news for you. If you are considering taking another test, this article will help you understand what it means that it expires, in what contexts it applies and if you have valid alternatives that are permanent. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Understanding TOEFL Validity

It is important to understand the origin of the TOEFL to understand the reason for the expiration. The TOEFL was created to validate that a foreign student is able to enroll in a university class in the U.S. and follow it/participate without problems. That is why ETS (the company that created and owns the test) mentions on its website that the scores are valid for a period of 2 years. It seems logical to think that they are not responsible for certifying your skills after 2 years. TOEFL cannot guarantee that you have continued to practice your English to maintain your level.

Do the Rest of Exams Expire Too?

This approach to certifying your level over a period of time is identical for the other validation tests: IELTS and Duolingo English Test. As with TOEFL, they establish your level for a period of 2 years. The Cambridge exams are a bit trickier. On their website they write that “your Cambridge qualifications and grades do not expire BUT that each individual institution (universities, governments, companies, …)decides for how long they accept their validity.
As you can see on a practical level, they all behave the same since the restrictions are set by academic centers and governments.
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Who Will Ask Me For the TOEFL?

As we have already explained, the TOEFL was originally an exam used by American universities to certify that a candidate had the necessary level of English to enroll in their courses. Over time, the niches in which the TOEFL is used have expanded and, nowadays, it is also commonly used by governments and companies. Let’s analyze each niche one by one so that you have a better understanding of TOEFL expiration:
  • Educational institutions:the TOEFL (iBT and PBT) is the world leader in terms of acceptance by number of educational institutions. While each school decides what criteria it sets for the TOEFL, we at EPIC have never seen any university accept any English degree older than 2 years. In other words, TOEFL, IELTS, DET and Cambridge exams are not accepted if you have taken them more than 2 years ago
  • Governments: some countries (e.g. Australia) require you to demonstrate a certain level of English in order to apply for a visa. As with universities, each government will set its own conditions. Check the policy of the country for which you want to apply for a visa because the variations are remarkable
  • Companies: if you want to prepare your resume it is very important that you demonstrate a good level of English. Normally companies use the CEFR scale as a reference. All prestigious exams and qualifications have their equivalency table with these levels. The TOEFL serves to certify your English language skills and, unlike, for example, Cambridge qualifications, it is a quick and agile process that you can complete even from home. For this type of use, you don’t have to worry so much about the expiration date. It usually happens that human resources will only look at whether or not you meet the English requirements and, in the interview, they will address you directly in English to make sure you have the level.

Conclusions

  1. Your TOEFL score (as with IELTS and DET) expires after 2 years.
  2. Taking into consideration the expiration policies of TOEFL vs. Cambridge exams does not make much sense. On a practical level, the validity of your score depends on the requirements of the applicant, so the expiration is really determined by them.
  3. If you are preparing to apply to a school all exams are valid for the same period of time. Select your exam according to other criteria (speed, price, accessibility, difficulty, …).
  4. Don’t worry too much about the expiration of your grade if you are doing your curriculum. You will probably continue in the process if you have the level they ask for and, in the interview, you will have to demonstrate your current level.

Hopefully this blog post has resolved all your doubts. However, if you have questions in regards to your TOEFL preparation, get in touch and we will let you know how EPIC PREP can help you achieve your goals. Differently, if you preffer to continue reading here is the link to our TOEFL courses page.

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