English language certificates: choose the right test!

English language tests

How good is your English? Can you barely keep a conversation going or do you speak like a native? Studying in a US university, landing an internship or a job in London, travelling through New Zealand for six months… Being able to accurately demonstrate English language skills is becoming a must for a growing number of today’s students. Many English language certificates allow you to assess your language ability. But to reach a specific goal, you need to choose the right English language test. Global recognition, band score systems, test formats and registration fees: spotlight on the main language proficiency tests. Get ready to score!

Your goal: studying in an English-speaking country

Applying for an Australian student visa, enrolling in a Californian university, travelling to the UK under an exchange programme… To study abroad, you won’t just need to take out an international student insurance solution: you will also be expected to have an English language certificate.

TOEFL

Who accepts TOEFL?

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test is accepted by more than 8,500 institutions in over 130 countries. TOEFL scores may also be used to meet student visa requirements for the UK and Australia.

What is the test format?

Most test takers choose to take the online TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test) test but a paper version of the test (PBT) also is available. The test is divided into four sections, each of which includes either a series of questions or tasks: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Total score ranges between 0 and 120.

How much does the test cost?

On average, the iBT TOEFL test costs between EUR119 and EUR186, depending on the country. Following the test date, scores are valid for two years.

IELTS

Who accepts IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is accepted by thousands of organizations, such as schools and universities, in over 135 countries. In the United States, more than 3,000 institutions accept the test. Also, an IELTS certificate may be enclosed in a student visa application for Australia or the UK.

What is the test format?

You can either take the IELTS Academic, specially designed for people aiming to enroll in a higher education institution or the IELTS General Training, if you wish to secure an internship for instance. The tests are divided into the same four modules as the TOEFL test but the overall score is on a 1-9 scale.

How much does the test cost?

IELTS test fees vary from one country to another: a test-taker will generally spend between EUR185 and EUR200. An IELTS score is valid for two years.

Your goal: gaining international work experience

Are you intending to build your resume by landing an internship abroad? Have you reached graduation and are looking to enter the workforce by landing a position in a foreign country? Having a high English language test score sometimes is an employment condition. A high score might also help you to convince a prospective employer. Check if you have the English language skills needed in the global workplace!

TOEIC

Who uses TOEIC?

Over 10,000 organizations in more than 120 countries use TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) scores to determine the language skills of current or potential employees.

What are the test formats?

Listening and Reading, Speaking and Writing: these are the three TOEIC tests which will allow you to prove your ability to use English in the workplace. There are two sections of 100 questions each to the Listening and Reading test. The Speaking and Writing tests contain a series of tasks and may be taken at the same time or separately. As for the scores, they range between 10 and 990 for the Listening and Reading test and between 0 and 200 for both the Speaking and Reading tests.

How much do the tests cost?

TOEIC test fees vary slightly depending on the country. Registration to the Listening and Reading test usually costs between EUR110 and EUR119. Double registration to Speaking and Reading test costs between EUR110 and EUR129. TOEIC test scores remain valid for two year.

BULATS

Who uses BULATS?

Throughout the world, companies use the BULATS (Business Language Testing Service) test to assess the knowledge of business English (other languages available) of actual or potential employees. You may also take BULATS as an individual.

What is the test format?

BULATS online or paper-based test contains three different sections (two sections if paper-based): reading and listening test, speaking test, writing test. Taking all the tests isn’t mandatory. BULATS scores are on a scale of 1-100.

How much does the test cost?

An individual test-taker pays a an average test fee of EUR60. BULATS scores are valid for two years.

Your goal: finding out what your English level is

How well do you speak English? You might not have the answer to that question. But you probably would like to know where you stand before your Working Holiday in Australia, before the internship interview you will be passing in Dublin within two weeks or your au pair stay in England…

Cambridge English exam: the FCE

What level of proficiency in English does the exam assess?

The FCE (First Certificate in English) is an upper-intermediate English language exam.

What is the exam format?

You may take either a paper or computer-based test. There are five parts to the FCE test: reading, writing, use of English, listening and speaking. An A, B or C score means you have passed the exam. If you get a lower score, you have failed the exam.

How much does the exam cost?

Registration to the FCE test generally costs between EUR196 and EUR199, depending on the country. The FCE certificate has no validity limit.

TOEIC Bridge

What level of proficiency in English does the TOEIC Bridge test assess?

The TOEIC Bridge test is designed for beginning to lower-intermediate English learners.

What is the test format?

The TOEIC Bridge test consists of 100 multiple choice questions divided into two sections: listening and reading. Total score ranges between 20 and 180.

How much does the test cost?

Depending on the country, test fees vary between EUR74 and EUR119.

To find out more about English language tests:

For detailed presentations of the most popular English language tests, take a look at the ETS and IELTS websites.

Date of publication Mar 1 2013

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