What are English Language Proficiency Tests? And why you should take them.
Aspiring to go abroad and accomplish your study abroad goals? It's time to look into applying to universities and courses and start preparing for your English Language Proficiency Test simultaneously. Your successful future self will thank you for stepping up and taking these tests today! Here's why and everything you need to know about ELPT's, as an international student on your way to study abroad.
An English language proficiency test helps in understanding a candidate's English language skills with regard to listening, reading, writing, and speaking. If you are a student aspiring to study abroad or planning to work and stay in a country where English is the primary language, these tests are essential and will help you understand and speak the language seamlessly. In totality, it helps in upgrading both your personal and professional lives.
Types of English Language Tests
A few years ago, there was only TOEFL in the segment, but now it faces competition with a few other viable options.
The below listed tests are widely accepted and standardised tests measuring proficiency in the English language for non-native English speakers. Read on to get a clear perspective of your options before you choose an English language proficiency test that best fits you.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardized and widely recognized English language test for international education and global migration. It evaluates the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers, who wish to study or migrate to countries, where English is the language of communication.
There are two categories under IELTS: Academic and General
The IELTS Academic modules assess if your English language skills meet international academic proficiency. This is best suited for students who wish to pursue their undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in an English-speaking environment and for those planning to move for professional registration.
The IELTS General assesses if your language skills are adequate for the workplace and social situations. People migrating to Australia, Canada, and the UK, those applying for secondary, training programs and work experience in any English-speaking environment can opt for General Training.
What is the importance of IELTS?
IELTS is one of the most trusted English language tests across the globe with more than 10,000 organizations recognizing it internationally.
The IELTS certification is accepted by academic institutions, companies, professional bodies and government organizations in more than 140 countries across the globe, including the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Europe.
The test is considered the standard for English language testing and its certification is recognized for both academic and immigration purposes. This test assesses the English language skills of candidates by testing their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Tests are available throughout the year in more than 1600 test centres in over 140 countries.
The IELTS exam can be taken online and offline. The exam format for both modes is the same. The listening and speaking sections are the same for both academic and general, while the writing and reading differ slightly.
IELTS Indicator is an online test that was introduced to help candidates take up the IELTS examination over the pandemic period. The IELTS Indicator is held online once a week at a scheduled time. Similar to IELTS Academic and General, this test also assesses the candidate's English language skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
The test is timed and the duration is the same as the in-person test. The candidate will receive the results within seven days. Candidates are advised to check if their university accepts the Indicator certificate.
Video-call Speaking test:
To make IELTS more flexible to people around the world, selected IELTS test centres offer the IELTS Speaking test through high-definition video calls. The candidates must take up the speaking test at an official IELTS centre.
The IELTS test format consists of 4 parts:
Four recordings of native English speakers will be played and the candidate will have to answer the list of questions provided. There will be a total of 40 questions of different types, including multiple-choice questions, plan/map/diagram labeling and sentence completion.
The reading section consists of 40 questions. This section is designed to test a wide range of reading skills, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming and understanding writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.
The excerpts for the academic section are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.
The topics in this section cater to candidates taking up their undergraduate and postgraduate studies or to those seeking professional registration.
General Training Writing:
The topics in this section are of general interest. The writing style is expected to range from personal, formal to semi-formal.
This section assesses the candidates' use of spoken English. There are three parts to this section.
Part 1: The examiner poses questions about the candidate, including their family, work, studies and interests.
Part 2: The candidate will be given a card with a particular topic. With a minute's time for preparation, they will have to speak on the given topic for up to two minutes.
Part 3: This session is a continuation of session 2. The candidate will be asked questions about the topic in part 2 and it lasts about four to five minutes.
2 hours and 45 minutes
Listening: 30 minutes
Reading: 60 minutes
Writing: 60 minutes
Speaking: 11-14 minutes
Each section is marked separately on a scale of 0-9 and the average of the four sections is taken as the final score. Each university/organization can set its own minimum score based on its requirement.
The IELTS certificate is valid for two years. After 2 years, the candidate has to reappear for the exam if they wish to prove their eligibility.
The IELTS certificate is accepted in over 10,000 institutions across the globe. The IELTS certificate is recognized as a standard proof of English proficiency in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. In the USA, it is accepted for study and work.
The cost of an IELTS is not fixed and it varies from one country to another. The approximate fee for each country is as follows:
UK – Between £170 and £195 depending on location
Germany – €234 for IELTS General and Academic
Italy – €242 for IELTS General and Academic
France – €240 for IELTS General and Academic
The USA – Between $245 – $255 USD.
India – INR 14,700
Bangladesh – BDT 18,750 for IELTS General and Academic
Malaysia – MYR 795 for IELTS General and Academic
Indonesia – Rp 2,900,000 for IELTS General and Academic
Vietnam – VND 4,750,000 for IELTS General and Academic
Thailand – THB 6,900 for IELTS General and Academic
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is also an English language assessment test, primarily used by non-native English speakers while applying to colleges abroad, where English is the common mode of communication.
TOEFL specifically focuses on the type of English that is used in academic settings and that is why it is most sought after by students who wish to study overseas in countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Why choose TOEFL?
TOEFL tests are graded using an unbiased system with several test raters and the identity of the candidates remains anonymous. Therefore, the candidates can be assured of a fair grading system. In addition to this, almost 90% of the candidates get placed in their 1st or 2nd choice university.
TOEFL can be taken through two modes:
- TOEFL PBT (paper-based test - offline)
- TOEFL iBT (internet-based test - online)
The offline mode is called the paper-based Test (PBT). TOEFL iBT is suitable for students who prefer to take up the test at home instead of going to the test centre. This mode is offered everywhere where TOEFL is usually available, except for Mainland China and Iran. The test content is similar to that of the pen-and-paper format and the candidates will be proctored by a human proctor online through ProctorU.
The TOEFL exam has four major sections:
This section assesses the candidate's ability to comprehend basic academic texts. The excerpts are taken from lectures, university textbooks, and articles. It consists of three to four paragraphs amounting to up to 700 words.
This section attempts to test the candidate's comprehension and understanding of conversations and lectures in English. The candidate will be tested on a range of accents, including British, Australian and American.
The speaking section assesses the ability of the candidate to clearly express their opinions on a particular topic. They will be given 17 minutes to complete a set of 4 tasks.
The writing section consists of two parts: an integrated writing task and an independent writing task.
The integrated writing task involves a reading text, where the candidate will be given 20 minutes to write an essay using the given information.
The duration for the independent writing task is 30 minutes, within which the candidate has to write an essay based on personal experience or opinions.
Internet-based - 4 hours
Paper-based - 3 hours
- Reading: 60 - 80 minutes
- Listening: 60 - 90 minutes
- Speaking: 20 minutes
- Writing: 50 minutes
- In the revised TOEFL PBT format, each section is graded between 0 and 30 separately. There is no overall score.
- The TOEFL iBT grade can range from 0 to 120 points.
- There is no fixed passing grade as each university has its own minimum grade.
The TOEFL certificate can only be used as valid proof for 2 years from the day the results are announced. To prove their eligibility post these two years, the candidate must retake the exam.
- The TOEFL certification is accepted by 100% of the universities in the U.K.
- In addition to this, more than 11,000 institutions in over 150 countries also recognize the TOEFL certification.
- It is acknowledged by countries like the UK, US, Australia and Canada.
The registration fee for a TOEFL exam differs from location to location. Listed below are the approximate costs for each country:
- USA - $225
- Australia - $300
- India - $185
- Germany - $260
- South Korea - $210
PTE (Pearson Tests of English)
Pearson Tests of English (PTE) Academic is an English language test for international study and immigration and is completely computer-based. The assessment for PTE Academic includes both everyday and academic English. Therefore, you will be given audio excerpts from lectures and visuals from graphs and charts. To test your listening skills, the excerpts will include British, American and other accents, as well.
Why choose PTE?
Since PTE test scores are entirely computerized, you can be guaranteed that your grades are marked fair, objectively and consistently. PTE tests offer the test takers flexibility by letting them register up to 24 hours before the test and the test results are declared within 48 hours after taking the test. The PTE certificate is recognized by colleges, universities and government institutions around the world.
PTE has two categories:
- PTE Academic
- PTE Home
PTE Academic: This is the first completely computer-based English language test for international study and immigration. This language test is accepted across the world. PTE Academic assesses the candidates' skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. The entire duration of the test lasts up to 3 hours.
This test is accepted by over a thousand universities around the globe, including Harvard Business School, INSEAD and Yale. In Australia and New Zealand, PTE Academic is accepted even for visa purposes.
PTE Home: This test is recommended for people looking for a family or settlement visa.
PTE Home Tests are taken via a computer and it is a pass-fail speaking and listening test.
Completion of a PTE is equivalent to the levels A1, A2 and B1 in the Common European Framework of Reference.
PTE Home has three categories:
- PTE Home A1 is a beginner-level test and is accepted as a proof of language proficiency for family and work visas.
- PTE Home A2 is suited for people who require proof of English language improvement to extend their visas.
- People looking to settle permanently in the UK must take up the PTE Home B1.
Mode: Since the assessment is entirely computerized, PTE tests can only be taken online.
To take up a PTE Academic test, the candidates must attend a secure Pearson test centre.
The candidates are expected to use a computer and headset to listen to the audio, read and respond to the questions. The test will consist of twenty different question formats, including multiple-choice questions, interpreting information and essay writing.
The entire exam comprises of three main parts:
Part 1: Speaking & Writing (together)
Part 2: Reading
Part 3: Listening
The candidates will be given an optional 10-minute break between the listening and reading sessions.
Part 1: Speaking & Writing
- Personal introduction
- Read aloud
- Repeat sentence
- Describe an image
- Re-tell lecture
- Answer short question
- Summarize written text
Part 2: Reading
- Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks
- Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
- Re-order paragraphs
- Reading: Fill in the blanks
- Multiple-choice, choose a single answer
Part 3: Listening
- Summarize spoken text
- Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
- Fill in the blanks
- Highlight correct summary
- Multiple-choice, choose a single answer
- Select missing word
- Highlight incorrect words
- Write from dictation
The total number of hours given to complete the PTE exam is 3 hours.
Part 1: Speaking and writing (77-93 minutes)
Part 2: Reading (32-40 minutes)
Part 3: Listening (45-57 minutes)
- The overall grading scale for the PTE Academic exam is between 10-90.
- All scores are automated and these are graded using PTE Academic's automated scoring system.
- Different universities have different minimum score requirements for PTE.
PTE Academic certificates are valid for two years from the day results are issued. If a student wishes to prove their eligibility after two years, they will have to retake the exam.
PTE is widely accepted in countries such as Australia, the USA, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, and New Zealand. PTE Academic is recognized for international study in European countries like the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. This is also approved for all Australian student visa and migration applications.
How much does it cost to take up a PTE test?
The cost of PTE exams differs in each country. Listed below are the costs for the PTE Academic exam in different countries:
- USD 205 in the USA
- GBP 170 in the UK
- USD 250 in Singapore
- MYR 710 in Malaysia
- USD 185 in Indonesia
- INR 11610.169 in India
- AUD 375 in Australia
- USD 170 in Nepal
- USD 200 in Thailand
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
What is Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)?
Cambridge Assessment English is a standard English language test designed to help non-native English speakers get into universities or seek jobs abroad, where English is used as the primary language. This assessment is part of the University of Cambridge and therefore, the tests and results are regarded with high value. There are around 2,800 centres in 130 countries across the globe. This certification is accepted by over 9,000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments.
Total Duration: 4 hours
- The average passing grade for CAE is between 180–199
- Each section is marked individually and the average is considered for the final score.
The Cambridge certificate does not have an expiry date. However, most universities choose to accept results only within the last 2-3 years.
- The CAE certificate is accepted as a standard test of the English language in over 9,000 educational institutions.
- It is globally recognized in countries like the UK, Australia, Canada, and Spain.
The CAE exam fee varies from country to country. Check with your exam centre for accurate details regarding the exam fee.
What is the Duolingo English Test?
Duolingo English Test is an online English proficiency test that assesses the English language proficiency skills of people who wish to move to English-speaking countries for study purposes. The Duolingo English Test certificate is accepted by over 3000 institutions. Candidates can expect to receive their results within 2 days of completing the test.
Why should you take the Duolingo English Test?
This test can be taken anywhere and therefore, the candidate does not have to travel to a particular test centre to take up the exam. There are over thousands of universities that accept the certification of the Duolingo English Test. You can send your test reports for free to as many universities as you like. While sending your test report, you can also send your video interview and writing samples to the universities.
- A valid passport or driving license or a valid government ID
- A stable internet connection
- A computer with a front-facing camera, microphone and speakers
Test Rules and Regulations:
- The candidate cannot use someone else's name or ID information to take up the test
- The candidate must be seated in a quiet room with proper lighting
- Ears must be clearly visible and uncovered
- Face must be clearly visible
- The candidate is not allowed to look away from the screen while taking the test
- The candidate cannot leave the test window for any reason
- Using predictive input method is not allowed
- Any third-party webcam software is not allowed
- Using a second monitor or any screen-sharing software is not allowed.
- Headphones or earphones are not allowed
- Mobile phones, textbooks, and notes are not allowed
- Communication with anyone is not allowed
- Paper and writing materials are not allowed
It takes about 60 minutes to complete the Duolingo English Test
The Duolingo English Test is graded on a scale from 10 - 160
The Duolingo English Test certificate is valid for two years.
The cost to take up the Duolingo English Test is only $49.
One thing we can assure you is that learning the English language isn't so difficult after all, and English Language Tests are the best way to ace the language and meet all the requirements. All you need is consistent practice and preparation to be able to converse and write fluently in English and win it all at your prospective study destinations!
Now that you're read all about it, as the first step towards your study abroad journey, enrol in an English language test preparation course today and get started on your study abroad goals!