The Ivy Coach Daily

November 4, 2022

International Applicants to Princeton

It’s high time that Princeton accept Duolingo scores as proof of English proficiency (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

If you’re applying to Princeton University as an international applicant and English is not your native tongue or the language of instruction at your high school, you will need to prove your English proficiency. Of course, it’s not like Princeton is the only highly selective university that requires such international applicants to take an exam to prove their English language skills (although Harvard College, as an example, requires no such proof of English language skills). Yet Princeton is the only Ivy League institution that does not allow students to submit a Duolingo English Test score as part of its application process. Instead, applicants must submit either a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score, an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score, or Preliminary English Test (PET) test score. And some students believe this is rather unfair.

As Alexis Sursock writes in an op-ed within The Daily Princetonian entitled “An open letter calling on Princeton to accept the Duolingo English Test as part of international application process,” “Most of our peer institutions, including all Ivy League colleges that require a proficiency test, as well as Stanford, MIT, and over 3,000 other institutions across the country accept the Duolingo English Test (DET). This provides international applicants anywhere in the world the opportunity to get certified in their English language proficiency for just $49. Furthermore, Duolingo provides practice exams and materials to students free of charge and sends test results almost instantly to universities for free. The test is virtually proctored, safe, and fair. It is researched extensively, and its results were found to be strongly correlated to those of the TOEFL and IELTS exams, but at a much lower cost to applicants. More importantly, it is convenient and affordable, especially for those who are most in need of our support…It is time to accept the Duolingo English Test as part of Princeton’s application process. If we truly want to make Princeton accessible to all, this change is long overdue.”

We happen to agree. There’s no reason that Princeton can’t accept a TOEFL, IELTS, PET, or Duolingo score like so many of their peer institutions so that international applicants who are non-native English speakers and/or attend a high school at which English is not the primary language of instruction have a less expensive way of proving their English language skills. In fact, we believe this change is overdue at the New Jersey-based institution. So, from atop Ivy Coach’s soapbox in elite college admissions, we hereby echo the call of Alexis Sursock and urge Princeton to accept Duolingo scores to prove English proficiency.

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