English proficiency tests are: a)fun b)hard c) difficult d)my head hurts

Definitely not letter A, I bet some would choose letter D…. And that would include me ha!

Higher Education in the US is not centralized nationally as it is in many other countries. If you are planning to attend a college or university it is important to note that admissions requirements will vary greatly from one institution to another. As an international student, you may have admission requirements in addition to those national students, including proof of English proficiency.

There are two main English tests accepted by universities and colleges: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

They are both standardized tests to assess a person’s proficiency in English (reading, writing, speaking and listening). The big question a student face is “which one is better?”. Here are some differences between them:

– Speaking part. For TOEFL, the speaking part consists of six questions which you answer into a microphone. These are recorded and sent to an examiner to grade. For IELTS, you are required to take this part with an IELTS examiner face to face.

– For some, it is easier to prepare for TOEFL as the format remains constant, while the format for IELTS keep changing.

– Scoring system is different. IELTS score is given in a band of 0-9 and TOEFL score is between 310-557 (paper-based called PBT) and online version (internet-based called IBT) score is provided with a highest possible of 120.

– IELTS tend to use British English and the TOEFL uses mostly American English.

– IELTS test duration is 2hr 45min and the test generally expects applicants to copy down words from the text or the conversation word-to-word. TOEFL test duration is 4 hours and for the reading and listening section it gives you multiple choice questions.

– Scores for TOEFL will be posted online approximately 10 days after the test day. IELTS posts results 13 calendar days after the test.

– One more significant difference between the IELTS and TOEFL tests is that, in some countries, TOEFL is delivered in both paper-based and computer-based formats, which makes it easier for students to choose the kind of test and the time and the place of its completion which suits them the most.

The answer to which one is better really depends on you. What type of learner are you? Concrete learners tend to do better on the IELTS as it involves memory recall. Abstract learners tend to excel on the TOEFL as many of the questions are multiple choice.

I suggest that you read all the information about both tests, take the sample tests available and make your own choice. Also, most importantly is to check that your chosen institution accepts the test. Always check beforehand.

There are other major English tests that could be accepted or used as qualification for entrance in some universities or colleges (again, make sure to check if accepted):

TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication)

FCE (First Certificate of English)

CAE (Certificate in Advanced English)

PTE (Pearson Test of English)

Please note that you have to pay a fee to take any of these tests and they can vary depending where you take them. Cost ranges from $150 to $250.

Have you taken any of these tests? Share your experience (comment below) so you can help other fellow learners.



6 thoughts on “English proficiency tests are: a)fun b)hard c) difficult d)my head hurts

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