Published date: 16 Oct 2019 Updated on: 06 Apr 2020 Why are English Assessment Exams conducted for Students Going Abroad to Study? You may have stumbled upon many advertisements for English assessment tests like IELTS and TOEFL in newspapers, on the internet or on college websites and wondered what these tests are and who they are meant for. Let’s shed more light on why these tests are conducted in the first place. Suppose you want to study or work abroad in an English-speaking country, but English isn’t your first language. Since all formal modes of communication in the country will be conducted in English, you will first have to exhibit a reasonable level of proficiency in the language. Hence, universities, immigration departments, professional bodies, and employers require applicants to take an English language assessment test to measure their ability to overcome the linguistic gap and conduct communications smoothly in the English language. A high score in these tests is one of the most important eligibility criteria for applying to universities or jobs as it is indicative of the student’s proficiency in the language. On the other hand, a low score risks a rejection of work or admission applications as it denotes the inability of a person to communicate in English and facilitate a legible communication. Get Help In Admissions Abroad From GyanDhan! Fill Up This Form Quick! What are the English Assessment Tests Other than IELTS and TOEFL? When it comes to English as a Foreign Language assessment test, the only tests that come to one’s mind are IELTS and TOEFL. However, contrary to popular perception, there are many other assessment tests too with specific purposes. Some of these are TOEIC, OPI, OPIC, and the Cambridge English Exams. Let us take a look at what these tests are and what purposes they serve: IELTS (International English Language Testing System) - It is conducted to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. The score ranges from 0 to 9, in 0.5 band increments. IELTS is accepted in over 140 countries, by 10,000 colleges including most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organizations across the world. The IELTS is offered up to 48 times per year with test centers spread across the world. The number of annual test-takers is approximately 2.5 million. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) - It is conducted to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers. The grade range is 0 to 30 (in 1 point increments) for each of the 4 sections, the range for the total score being from 0 to 120. TOEFL is a trademark of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private non-profit organization, which designs and administers the tests. It has been reported that over 27 million students have taken the exam since its inception in 1964. OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) - The test evaluates a person’s speaking skills by assessing their test performance. In an OPI, the test-taker has to sit for an interview with a certified ACTFL tester, and the interview is recorded and scored by the interviewer as well as a second certified tester on the basis of the following scale: Superior, Advanced High, Advanced Mid, Advanced Low, Intermediate High, Intermediate Mid, Intermediate Low, Novice High, Novice Mid, Novice Low. OPIC (Oral Proficiency Interview Computer) - It is a computer-based test of English-usage skill developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and Language Testing International (LTI). It is a computer-based version of the OPI. The test scores have seven levels. The evaluations are done by ACTFL professionals in the United States. Cambridge English Exams - These are traditional "pass or fail" exams and do not follow the grading system. CAE is taken by more than 60,000 people each year in more than 60 countries. The Cambridge exams come in 4 levels of : PET (Preliminary English Test) - The test has three sections: Reading and Writing, Listening, Speaking. The scoring pattern is 'pass’, ‘pass with merit’, ‘narrow fail’, or ‘fail’. FCE (First Certificate of English) - The test has four parts: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking. The scoring pattern is A B C (pass) D E or U (fail). CAE (Certificate of Advanced English) - The test also has four parts: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking. The scoring pattern is A B C (pass) D E or U (fail). CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) - The test has five parts: Reading, Composition, Use of English, Listening, Interview. The scoring pattern remains the same. There are other exams too, but these are the most popular and widely accepted ones. Which Tests are Preferred by Foreign Countries for Admissions? Different countries have their own eligibility requirements and hence prefer different English assessment tests in the case of admission applications from international students. Below we list down the top 5 countries for foreign education and the English assessment tests preferred by them. Countries and their Preferred English Assessment Tests Countries Preferred English Assessment Tests USA TOEFL UK IELTS Canada IELTS and CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) Ireland IELTS Australia IELTS and PTE ( Pearson Test of English) IELTS vs TOEFL vs other English Exams Given in the table below is a detailed overview of all the English language assessment tests listed above covering their salient features like conducting body, difficulty level exam pattern, frequency of the conduct, a medium of the test and so on. IELTS vs TOEFL vs TOEIC vs ESOL Name Cost Frequency of Conduct No. of Centers in India Score Validity Conducting Body IELTS $225 Academic IELTS held 48 times a year and General training IELTS 24 times a year 78 2 years Cambridge University, IDP and British Council TOEFL $180 More than 50 times a year 59 2 years Educational Testing Service (ETS) ESOL $85 NA 25 The certificate has no expiration period. Scores are valid for only 2-3 years University of Cambridge Which English Language Test Should I Take? Now that you know the different types of English as foreign language assessment tests, you may be confused as to which test you should take for studying or working in a foreign country. Well, the test that you should take will ideally depend on the following factors - a) your aims and objectives for going to a foreign country, b) country you want to go to, c) if you fit the eligibility criteria for the test. Below we have listed down these features for all the tests which you can check and determine which one is the best as per your needs and profile. IELTS For taking the IELTS, the minimum age should be at least 16 years, and the person must have a valid passport. You will be eligible to take the exam if you fall into one of the categories: Planning to study in UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/USA/ Europe Being a medical professional, planning to work or study further in UK/Australia/USA Planning to emigrate to Canada/Australia/New Zealand. TOEFL The TOEFL test (both TOEFL-IBT - Internet-based and TOEFL-PBT - Paper-based) is open to all. Ordinarily, a pass in 10+2 level from any recognized Indian Board or University makes one qualified to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). However, the test is suitable only for those candidates studying at the high school level or higher owing to the difficulty level of the test. Several institutions report that they do not require the following categories of international applicants to submit their TOEFL scores. These include: Non-native speakers holding diplomas or degrees from post-secondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g., the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand). Transfer students from institutions in the United States or Canada. Non-native speakers who have taken the TOEFL test within the past two years. Non-native speakers who have successfully pursued academic work at schools where the medium of instruction was English in an English-speaking country for a specified period, generally two years. Cambridge English Exams (ESOL) There is no official age limit for taking the exam, and students most commonly sit for the CAE exam while in 10+1 or 10+2 secondary education to apply for undergraduate courses in the U.K., Canada and/or Australia. It is however advised to submit test scores within two years of one's application to study abroad. One can sit for the exam as many times as they require/want, although they cannot register for the same exam twice in the same month. Conclusion Now that you have got an extensive insight into the different kinds of English language assessment tests and have also got a fair idea of which test suits your requirements the best, the next step is to start off with the preparations. If you have decided to take the IELTS and are looking for a preparation tips and advice, then waste no time and click here for a section-wise IELTS preparation guide prepared by us.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.gyandhan.com/blogs/ielts-vs-toefl-vs-other-english-exams