Which English Language Test Should I Take? Decide what to study

By Katrin Vares

Applying to a foreign university and studying in a different language than your mother tongue will most probably mean that you’ll have to take an internationally recognised language test that would prove that you’re prepared to study in the language of instruction. Most international universities worldwide accept 3 of the following English language tests:

English proficiency language tests

What is IELTS?

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an international standardised test of English language proficiency. No minimum score is required to pass the test - it is measuring the candidate’s level of English from A1-C2. IELTS consists of four parts - listening (40 min), reading (60 min), writing (60 min), speaking (11-14 min with an interviewer). The total test duration is around 3 hours and it is a paper-based test. Keep in mind that the test certificate expires after two years!

Book an IELTS test in your country!

What is TOEFL?

TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language) was developed to address the problem of ensuring English language proficiency for non-native speakers wishing to study at U.S. universities. However, the TOEFL test is generally accepted around the world as a proof of language proficiency. TOEFL consists of four parts - reading (60-100 min), listening (60-90 min), speaking (20 min with a computer) and writing (50 min). This is a computer-based test. Just like the IELCT test, the TOEFL certificate expires after two years!

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What is CAE?

CAE (Certificate in Advanced English) is the advanced general English examination provided by the Cambridge English Language Assessment centre in England. The examination comprises of five parts:

  1. Reading (1 hour and 15 minutes)
  2. Writing (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  3. Use of English (1 hour)
  4. Listening (40 minutes)
  5. Speaking (20 minutes)

Each component carries 20% of the total grade. There are three pass grades (A, B and C) and certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve these grades. Candidates who achieve a grade D or E are judged not to have reached the required standard for CAE.

In the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CAE is ranked at C1 and C2 levels. Candidates who have obtained an A grade are awarded a C2 certificate, those obtaining grade B or C, are awarded a C1 certificate. Like all the other Cambridge exams, once the exam is passed, the qualification never expires (universities might not consider it though, if it is older than 2 years).

Most universities accept an IELTS result of 6.5, a TOEFL score of 92 or higher, and CAE C1 levels. However, this can vary; sometimes the requirement is lower, sometimes higher. Always check your chosen university’s webpage for specific language requirements!