Which English Language Test Is Right for You?
Jan 13, 2011 TOEFL/TOEIC/IELTS 2980 Views
There are so many English language tests out in the market at the moment that it can be hard to choose the one that is best for you. Is it accepted for university? Is it accepted in the UK or the US? Will it help me get a job? What score do I need? What scores are there? These are all questions that many people ask when thinking of taking an English test. This article gives you a quick guide to the main tests available, what they are mainly used for, and how they are scored, making your task of finding the right test a little more manageable.
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
This is a test mainly used as a qualification to enter university. It is accepted in many English speaking countries (including the UK and Australia/New Zealand), but it is a US-based exam. It is widely accepted in colleges and universities in the USA. The test covers the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking and scores range from 0-120. You will need to check with the university you want to attend to find out what score they will accept.
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
This test is used mainly as a qualification to enter university. Additionally, some careers in the UK may require this exam (for example nursing). The exam is widely accepted in the UK and Australia/ New Zealand. It is also accepted in many universities in the USA. It covers the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Scores range from 0 to 9.0 and go up on a.5 scale. Again, check with the universities to which you wish to apply to find out what scores they accept.
Cambridge General English Exams
The Cambridge exams (e.g. PET, FCE, CAE) are a range of exams which test general English. They can be used for employment purposes and some universities and colleges accept one of the higher level Cambridge exams for entry. These exams are less recognised than IELTS and TOEFL for university entry, so it is essential that you check with the university you wish to apply to first. The exams test the four skills, and additionally have an explicit grammar element. The exams work on a Fail, Pass, Merit, Distinction grading and you need to take the appropriate exam for your level. Cambridge also offer a business English exam (BEC).
These tests are relatively new and have varieties for general, young learners and academic English. The general and young learners exams are for confidence building purposes, to reward positive English language achievement. As such, they are unlikely to be accepted at a university level (the higher level exams may be accepted in professional environments). The PTE Academic is gaining acceptance in universities, but you should check with the university you wish to apply to. The PTE Academic is scored on a scale up to 90.
GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test )
This exam is required for admission in to some business schools. It is not specifically an English language test, but it does test verbal and analytical writing skills, so it has elements of English testing within it. It is a business specific exam and includes writing sections and many multiple choice questions. Scores range from 200-800. This exam normally needs to be taken in addition to another English language test to gain entry onto business programmes.
Trinity College London offers a range of English language exams. The GESE (Graded Examinations in Spoken English) are general English confidence building exams which are based on the communication skills of listening and speaking. The ISE has a written component. Again, it is a general English exam to help learners achieve new goals. A high level ISE score is recognised by some universities, but check this with the university you wish to apply for. These exams have a range of levels and you need to apply for the level that is appropriate for you. Trinity also offer a spoken English for work exam (SEW), and ESOL exams. The ESOL exams are designed for refugees and migrants who already live in the UK.
With any exam you take, it is important to research the exam first to find out if it is the appropriate exam for you, both in terms of your future needs and your existing level. Remember to always check with universities or employers if you need an exam for specific work or study purposes.