You would like to prepare for an official English Proficiency Test and earn a certificate. You don’t know which test you should take? Which one is the best? We are here to help you!
There is no single answer to that question. You will find in this article all the information you need about the major English proficiency tests available to help you choose the right exam. The right exam FOR YOU.
Four main tests to prove your English proficiency
Today, you can get your level of English tested with four major English proficiency tests:
- the International Language Testing System (IELTS),
- the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),
- the Cambridge English exam
- and the Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC).
They all serve the main purpose (testing your abilities in English) but some differences between them might help you choose the right one according to your preferences and objectives.
- a visa,
- or a job
- or a college applications for example.
The TOEFL is predominantly used and asked in the U.S.A., while the IELTS is more popular in the UK. But both are generally accepted everywhere. These exams differ in terms of format, methods and prices so we prepared this guide for you to compare them and pick the right one.
When you make your decision, do not hesitate to seek for advice from professionals. If you already study English at Nacel English School London, your teacher can help you determine the most suitable test for you, depending on your level and your objectives. Your teacher can also help you to prepare for your English proficiency test.
The International Language Testing System (IELTS)
The test is composed of four parts:
- and reading.
It lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes.
You will have to complete the listening, writing and reading sections on the same day without any break between the three sections. Depending on your test centre, the speaking part can be done the same day after a ten-minute break or up to a week before or after the three other parts.
Your score will range from 1 to 9, each score corresponding to a level of English proficiency.
The minimum score you will need to get depends on the university or company you want to join.
There are two types of IELTS: general and academic:
As the names suggest, General IELTS is more useful for work and immigration, while Academic IELTS is what you need to get into university in the UK, or any other English-speaking educational institutions. Both Academic IELTS and General IELTS have the same listening and speaking sections. However, Academic IELTS is slightly harder because the reading and writing sections require more scholarly language, statistics, and analysis.
We offer IELTS course in London to help you prepare for either IELTS test. Our advice and feedback and our special classes and programmes will allow you to boost your score!
An IELTS exam is only valid for two years. You can take the IELTS exam almost everywhere in the world and whenever throughout the year.
The IELTS test fees changes depending on the country and even the city and the test center you’ll be taking the exam in. But you can have a general overview of how much an IELTS costs in your country.
The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
The TOEFL is issued by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Like the IELTS, the TOEFL is composed of four parts, namely:
- and listening.
Each section is worth 30 points. Your total score will be out of 120.
Universities usually require a score that range between 90 and 100, which corresponds to a B2 level. Some universities might ask a minimum score in each section. The exam lasts 4 hours with a short break. The certificate is only valid for two years, like the IELTS.
The Cambridge English Exam (CAE)
The Cambridge diploma is issued by Cambridge English Language Assessment, located at the University of Cambridge in England. Once you have taken it, it will be valid for the rest of your life!
There are different types of Cambridge English exams according to the Common European Language Framework (CEFR):
- KET (Key English – A2, elementary)
- PET (Preliminary English – B1, intermediate)
- FCE (First Certificate of English – B2, upper-intermediate)
- CAE (Cambridge English Advanced – C1, advanced)
- CPE (Cambridge English Proficiency – C2, proficient)
The content of the Cambridge English exam will depend on the type of exam you will take.
The exam usually takes place in two days, the first one covering reading, writing and listening. Depending on your level, each parts generally lasts between one to two hours. The oral part takes place on the second day and takes approximately 15 minutes.
The test will be marked using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), from A1 to C2.
The cost of a Cambridge English exam will depend on the exam you will take the test center you choose.
We have designed Cambridge Exam preparation courses to help you prepare for the Cambridge exam you would like to take. You will receive helpful feedback and personalized tips to boost your score.
The Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC)
The Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC) is designed to assess your English proficiency in an English-speaking business environment.
The test is composed of four sections:
- and listening.
There are three levels of BEC:
- BEC Preliminary (B1)
- BEC Vantage (B2)
- BEC Higher (C1)
The format and the length of the BEC exam will depend on the level you will take. The exam is recognised by employers and professional organisations all over the world. The total cost of taking the BEC exam will depend on the test location you will take the test in.
Our BEC exam preparation lessons help you to train for the test and reach a better score.
Why Preparation is the key to success for any English Proficiency test?
Knowing the test format and what will be expected from you is very important for you to succeed. You also need to work on your English before taking an English proficiency test to stack all the odds in your favor.
To do so, you can book a General English course first and then move to an exam preparation course when you are ready. This dedicated course will allow you to prepare for every aspect of the test you would like to take. Our personal feedback, mock exams and practice questions will boost your score!
Nacel English School London charges the same for General English Courses as University of Cambridge ESOL Exam courses (FCE, CAE & CPE, IELTS, BEC and others). Move to the next step with us.