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Taking a Test of English

If you're planning to head abroad to study, you'll likely need to prove your English skills - get cracking with some of these tests.
BY Achala Upendran |   06-12-2013
If you’re planning to head abroad for higher studies, chances are you’ll be asked to take a proficiency test to demonstrate your fluency level in English. There are at four widely administrated  and accepted tests, of which the TOEFL and IELTS are best recognized.

Note: When you actually sit any of these tests, remember to carry valid identification  with you, preferably your passport. Also be very certain to check the exact requirements of your program in terms of which particular test the admission office accepts, as well as the proficiency level of English required for your course. The cost of the test varies depending on the country you’re taking it in.

1.   Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The TOEFL is the most widely taken and accepted English proficiency test. More than 8,500 institutions in 130 countries, including the U.S. and U.K, accept TOEFL scores as valid for admission requirements.

At three hours long, the TOEFL is divided into four separate scored sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. Each section is scored out of 30 points, making the total cumulative score 120. Different universities and departments require different minimum scores, so be sure to check the specifics of your chosen program.

The TOEFL takes place 50 times a year on set dates. Scores are valid for up to two years after the test, and you can take it as many times as you like. However, you cannot take it more than once in a 12-day period.

ETS, the U.S. based testing service that administers the TOEFL, allows you to send your scores for up to four institutes for free. You can register these universities after you finish the test, before you receive your score.

To register for the TOEFL test, and for further information about test centres and dates, log on to: http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about


2.   International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS is accepted by more than 8,000 institutes worldwide. It is held in more than 900 centres, about four times a month. The local British Council is the best place to get information about test registration and dates; the test originates from the U.K. and is jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council, and IDP Education Pvt. Ltd.

This test is comprised of four modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. It is scored on a nine level scale, ranging from Expert user to Did Not Take the Test. Again, you should check with your program to figure out what kind of score you need to meet in order to be eligible for admission.

The IELTS is offered in two different models: the Academic and the General Training. All those who wish to apply for degrees/higher studies abroad will have to take the Academic test. The General Training is meant for candidates who wish to migrate to an English-speaking country to work or study at a level below degree.

IELTS scores remain valid for up to two years after the test was taken. For more information of registration and dates, click here.


3.   Pearson Test of English (PTE) (Academic)

The PTE is valid mainly for Australian universities, all of whom accept it as an assessment of English proficiency. Other countries have begun to accept it, however, but do double-check if you are applying to an institute outside Australia.

The test is three hours long and is split into timed parts for Speaking and Writing, Listening and Reading. There is an untimed ‘Introduction’ section in which you are asked to verbally speak about yourself.

You can register for the test up to 48 hours in advance. The PTE is administered in a number of locations across the world and takes place throughout the year. Scores are typically available within five working days of the test and are emailed directly to the test taker. You can send your PTE scores to any number of institutes for free.

Scores are valid for up to two years after the test. You can take the test as many times as you want, but must wait until you’ve received your score in order to register again.

For registration and information about centres, click here.


4.   Cambridge Advanced English Test (CAE)

Credit: www.britishcouncil.com

The CAE is perhaps less well-known in India. It is offered at differing levels, depending on the need of the taker. Pass grades are A, B and C. If you achieve an A grade, it counts as 70 points on your UCAS application, for application to U.K. based educational institutions.

There are a range of preparation materials available for free download. You can take the test as many times as you like, but not more than once a month.

The CAE is administered in various locations across the globe throughout the year. check the website for details on time and registration: click here.

All of the above tests are internet based, and are required to be taken at registered centres, on a working computer.

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