By World Family Education
To be successful in an English-language university, students must read, write, and speak academic-level English. Some university applicants may need to demonstrate their language skills by passing an English assessment. These include 1) students that have not completed their entire educational career in English and 2) students who do not come from a country that speaks English as the first language.
Every university has its own policies regarding required entrance exams and minimum scores accepted. Be sure to check the policies of your preferred institution.
The most widely used English assessment exams are the TOEFL and IELTS, described below.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is designed and administered by the Educational Testing Service and conducted in American English.
The testing format is between 3–4 hours long and usually internet-based. Some paper tests are administered in locations where internet connectivity is poor. Exam components include listening, speaking, writing, and reading.
The TOEFL internet-based test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points, and universities set their own standards for minimum score required for admission. TOEFL scores are the most common language requirements for American universities and are also accepted in most English-speaking universities around the world.
To register for the test, students must register online at the TOEFL website and find a licensed testing center.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. The IELTS is an international exam and allows for spelling and vocabulary either in American English or British English. The test’s listening module features speakers with a variety of accents.
The testing format is about 2 hours, 45 minutes long and may be paper- or computer-based. Reading, writing, and listening sections are completed independently while a speaking section is done in person with a trained IELTS examiner.
All IELTS scores are from 0 to 9 (9 being the highest). The overall score is an average of each of the four sections of the exam, and universities set their own standards for minimum score required for admission. The IELTS exam score is the most common language requirement for Canadian, UK, Australian, and New Zealand universities, and the results are usually accepted in the United States as well.
To register for the test, students must register online at the IELTS website and find a licensed testing center.
Other English Language Assessments
EF Standard English Test — EFSet is a free online test comparable to the IELTS or TOEFL. The test can provide practice and preparation for the other exams. Some schools and universities accept exam results from EFSet.
Pearson Test of Academic English — The PTE Academic assesses the readiness of non-native English speakers for a university-level English language instruction program. Developed in the UK, the PTE Academic is one of the accepted language tests for student visa requirements in New Zealand and Australia.
The Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) — The CAE exam assesses English language proficiency for admission to university and other courses. Developed in the UK, the CAE is one of the accepted language tests for student visa requirements in New Zealand and Australia.