Home > NewsRelease > For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 5: Evaluating Foreign Credentials, Determination of GPA, and Taking Standardized Tests (including TOEFL or IELTS) By Dr. Don Martin
For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 5: Evaluating Foreign Credentials, Determination of GPA, and Taking Standardized Tests (including TOEFL or IELTS) By Dr. Don Martin
Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Chicago, IL
Friday, June 10, 2022

Foreign Credentials
Believe it or not, the process of determining what types of undergraduate preparation in other countries will be considered equivalent to a U.S bachelor’s degree is quite varied. There is not one singular guideline that applies to all institutions. If you have already checked on this, you have discovered that what one institution might accept as equivalent another will not. My best advice here is to find out what is acceptable, and go with what you are told. In some instances there could be an extenuating circumstance that would merit an exception to the stated policy, but this is very rare. More about this later.
In some cases you are asked to make application before an evaluation of your educational credentials is done. In other cases an evaluation is provided before you apply. Once again, each institution tends to determine what works best for that institution, and that is how you need to proceed if you have an interest in attending.
Excessive arguing about a policy you believe is not fair or does not take into account your particular situation will only make matters worse for you. Someone who argues with and continues to badger the admissions director to make an exception ends up drawing negative attention to himself/herself. As stated earlier, if you believe you have an extenuating circumstance that merits consideration, definitely let the admissions office know. My suggestion is that you do this in a letter (email would be appropriate), not by phone. Make the letter as short as you can, but be sure to cover all the facts. At the beginning and end of the letter thank the admissions office for taking time to review your situation. Offer to provide any additional information, and make it clear that you will abide by their decision.
Determination of GPA
Here again, the process may vary. But each institution has a means of “converting” an academic record from an international college/university into the equivalent GPA at that institution. The procedure for doing this is set, and based on my experience, is never altered or changed, period. No exceptions are made. Your best bet is to send your transcripts (have them translated if at all possible), and leave it at that. Rest assured that admissions directors/ committees are as diligent about this part of the process as they are all of the other parts. In fact, the director is asked to provide an average GPA for the incoming class. In order to provide accurate information, s/he will be very careful about the conversion of international GPAs.
TOEFL or IELTS, and ESL Programs
Until recently, the TOEFL was the predominant way to determine English proficiency. In the past several years the IELTS has also been used. In some instances international applicants are being given a choice between the two. While the minimum score requirement for either test varies between institutions, once set it is pretty firm. When serving as a director of admissions, my “rule” was to accept a score below our requirement if it was 3 to 5 points under, no more. In other words, if the minimum TOEFL score requirement was 100, I would in some instances permit a score between 95 and 99, but not very often. A score below 95 was almost never accepted.
Let me provide one special tip for you when it comes to taking the TOEFL or IELTS:
Do not take the test more than three times. This does not bode well for you, even if you end up achieving the minimum score, yet have made four or more attempts. What this usually indicates to the admissions committee is that you are not yet proficient enough in English, and may need more study. They will tend to consider one score that meets the requirement after several attempts to be a coincidence, not a real indicator of English language proficiency.
Regarding ESL Programs, let me provide you with some very helpful information from my colleague, Michael Daly, former president of the Universal Placement Program: “Some universities offer conditional admission and TOEFL/IELTS exam alternatives. Many university-based ESL programs provide students with good programs to prepare them for the rigors of American university life and may offer academically and financially qualified students conditional admission to the graduate program they plan to enroll in before they achieve the necessary English proficiency level. Also, many of these programs may offer students full acceptance to these programs without taking the TOEFL/ IELTS exams if they complete the highest level of the ESL program.”
Coming up next: Financial Considerations
Be sure to check out Dr. Don’s book, “Road Map for Graduate Study, A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students,” right here on the GSRM website. For a reduced price CLICK HERE, go to The Book page, scroll down, click on the Order Now box, and use discount code GSRM.
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The post For Prospective International Graduate Students, Part 5: Evaluating Foreign Credentials, Determination of GPA, and Taking Standardized Tests (including TOEFL or IELTS) By Dr. Don Martin appeared first on Grad School Road Map.
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Name: Dr. Donald C. Martin
Group: Grad School Road Map
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 773-549-7639
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