Speaking in Tongues: Can International Graduate Students Read International Graduate Admissions Materials?

Zachary W. Taylor


A recent Educational Testing Services report (2016) found that international graduate students with a TOEFL score of 80—the minimum average TOEFL score for graduate admission in the United States—usually possess reading subscores of 20, equating to a 12th-grade reading comprehension level. However, one public flagship university’s international graduate student admissions instructions are written at a 17th-grade reading comprehension level, or, a 27-30 band on the reading section of the TOEFL. This study seeks to answer the question, “Do U.S. graduate programs compose admissions materials at unreadable levels compared to these programs’ minimum reading comprehension levels for international graduate student admission?” Findings reveal average public flagship international graduate student admissions materials are written above 15th-grade reading comprehension levels, with select flagships composing these materials at 19th grade reading levels. Implications for practitioners and policymakers, as well as areas of future research, are addressed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v6n3p99


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International Journal of Higher Education
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