Taking an English test is a great way to find out what level your language skills are at and might be something you need to do in order to reach your goals in the future. With so many English tests to choose from, is TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or one of the Cambridge exams best for you? Read on to find out which English test would suit you best!
I want to study in a North American university
If you want to study in the US or Canada, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most logical test for you to take. It’s recognised as the standard test of English ability by most universities and grad schools.
Although there is a paper-based version of this test, the internet-based test (iBT) is by far the most popular way to take TOEIC. There are test centres all over the world and you can get the results back quickly. In order to get a score that truly reflects your ability, make sure you familiarise yourself with how the TOEIC iBT works before taking it.
Universities often require a score of above 550 in the paper-based test or above 80 for the iBT but requirements vary so make sure to check with the university you want to go to before booking your test.
I want to work or study in England, Australia, or New Zealand
If you’re heading to the UK, the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test should be the first exam you consider. It includes Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing tests, with a choice between Academic and General Training in the Reading and Writing sections.
If your main goal is to study at a university, then the Academic focus is better. If you are planning to live or work abroad, then the General Training test is probably a better bet.
There is no pass or fail grade for IELTS: participants are provided with an overall score from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert user), as well as a score for each section. IELTS is also popular with students who just want to check their English level as it’s a very thorough test and a good reflection of your practical English abilities.
I want to land a job in an international company
TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) is THE test for the workplace. With more than 3 million test-takers every year, it is widely recognized by corporations worldwide for measuring employees’ English level.
There are two types of TOEIC test, one focuses on reading and listening while the other focuses on speaking and writing. In addition to these two tests, some companies purchase a license to use TOEIC as an internal test and use their own custom version.
If you are looking for a job where you can utilize your English skills, this may be the test to take to prove your ability.
I want to pursue a career in business
BEC (Cambridge Business English Certificate) is a series of 3 proficiency tests, which revolves heavily around business topics. The tests – BEC Preliminary, BEC Vantage, and BEC Higher – cover skills necessary for business situations, like making presentations, negotiating, or writing business letters and reports.
Unlike TOEFL and TOEIC, the BEC test sets a minimum score required to pass and to receive the certification.
BEC is practical in nature, requiring candidates to engage in work-related discussions and write business letters. Like other Cambridge English certificates, a minimum score is required to pass the exam and receive the certification.
I just want to check my English level
The Cambridge general English exams are a popular choice for learners who want to just have a certificate to prove their English level and show what they have achieved on their English course.
They are traditional exams that you either pass or fail and you can take them at Preliminary, First, Advanced, or Proficiency level depending on your ability. Unlike many of the other tests, it doesn’t expire, so once you have passed that test you can use it as proof of your English level for as long as you want.
People often talk about one of the tests above being ‘better’ than the others but in reality they are all equally valid indications of your English level. The test you take should depend on your own goals and circumstances. Remember, the best test is the one that’s right for you!
Article related:5 fast ways to improve your TOEFL score
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Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.
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