Get to know the proficiency tests accepted by universities and colleges
The universities and colleges that your students choose should tell them what standard of English, both written and spoken, they need for the course that they are considering. If English is not their first language, most universities will require them to have a qualification in English or to take a specified test in English.
In addition, universities should tell applicants whose first language is not English but who are studying a qualification all or in part in English of their requirements. Students are advised to contact the admissions office or international office to find out which proficiency tests are acceptable.
The UK Border Agency has recently announced some changes in the English languages requirements for students coming to study in the UK. Click here for more information about the changes. The English language tests in the list below may or may not meet these requirements.
Anglia Examinations Syndicate
- Proficiency – pass or better
Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) Certificates in English Language Skills (ESOL) – now owned and run by EDI
- Set 2 – Performance is not graded but candidates do receive marks (within 5%) achieved in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Last awarded through AQA in summer 2006.
British Institutes Certificates
- Contact the university or college direct to find out if this test is accepted.
Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Cambridge English exams are accepted by the UK Border Agency for Tier 4 student visas. They can be taken in 2,500 centres in over 130 countries. Centres are listed at: www.CambridgeESOL.org/Centres
Various tests are offered:
- Cambridge English: Advanced, commonly known as the Certificate in Advanced English – CAE (NQF Level 2)
- Cambridge English: Proficiency, commonly known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English – CPE, (NQF Level 3)
- Cambridge English: First, commonly known as the First Certificate in English – FCE, (NQF Level 1)
- Cambridge English: Business Certificates Higher, commonly known as Business English Certificate Higher – BEC H (NQF Level 2)
- Cambridge English: Business Certificates Vantage, commonly known as Business English Certificate Vantage – BEC V (NQF Level 1)
- ESOL Skills for Life Level 1 (NQF Level 1)
- ESOL Skills for Life Level 2 (NQF Level 2)
For more information visit: www.CambridgeESOL.org
University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
- GCE O Level English Language (Syllabus numbers 1119, 1120, 1123, 1124, 1125, 1126) – grade C or better
- IGCSE First Language English (Syllabus number 0500) – grade C or better
- IGCSE English as a Second Language (Syllabus number 0510) – grade C or better
University of Central Lancashire English Language Examinations
Examinations have reading, writing, listening, speaking and use of English components graded separately from the overall grade on the transcript. Each examination has pass, merit or distinction.
- Certificate in English (Council of Europe Level B1) Level 2 – Independent User
- Certificate in English (Council of Europe Level B2) Level 2 – Independent User- pass or above sufficient for some undergraduate programmes
- Certificate in English (Council of Europe Level C1) Level 3 – Proficient User – pass or above sufficient for most undergraduate programmes and some post-graduate programmes
- Certificate of Proficiency in English (Council of Europe Level C2) Level 3 – Proficient User – pass or above sufficient for most post-graduate programmes
Certificate in ESOL Skills for Life
Offered by Cambridge ESOL, City and Guilds, Edexcel, Education Development International plc, English Speaking Board, National Open College Network, Open College of the North West and Trinity College London. The levels are set to equivalent NQF Levels.
City and Guilds
- English for business communication – Level 2 First Class Pass, or Level 3 Pass for more linguistically exacting courses
- International ESOL and International Spoken ESOL – Expert Level (NQF Level 2) and Mastery Level (NQF Level 3)
- International GCE O Level English Language – grade C or better
- IGCSE English as a Second Language – grade C or better
- IGCSE English Language – grade C or better
- GCSE English Language – grade C or better
Education Development International (EDI) Certificates in English Language Skills (ESOL)
- EDI Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International (Entry 1) (JETSET Level 2)
- EDI Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International (Entry 2) (JETSET Level 3)
- EDI Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International (Entry 3) (JETSET Level 4)
- EDI Level 1 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 5)
- EDI Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 6)
English Speaking Board
- English as an acquired language (EAL)/(ESOL) Spoken Communication and Presentation – Level 3 (NQF Level 3), Level 2 (Step 1) and Level 2 (Step 2) (NQF Level 2)
- Schools EAL – Advanced 1 and Advanced 2 (NQF Level 2)
- ESB Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International All Modes
- ESB Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International All Modes
- ESB Level 1 Certificate in ESOL International All Modes
- ESB Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International All Modes (Entry 3)
Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority
- Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination: Use of English – Grade E or better
- Hong Kong Advanced Supplementary Level Examination: Use of English – Grade E or better
- Hong Kong Certificate of Education (HKCEE) prior to 2007: English Language (Syllabus B) – Grade C or better. 2007 onwards: English Language Level 3 or better
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
IELTS is accepted by over 6000 institutions worldwide, and is offered up to four times a month at test centres in more than 125 countries. IELTS assesses all your English language skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking. The speaking module is assessed in a face-to-face conversational interview with a qualified examiner.
Candidates receive an IELTS Test Report Form which details their test scores. IELTS scores are given in bands from 1 – 9, including half bands. Most universities and colleges in the UK will require between bands 5.0 to 7.5, depending on the content of the course. IELTS Test Report Forms have a recommended validity of two years and can be verified by the institution receiving them via a secure online service.
IELTS is jointly managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. To find a list of test centres, which institutions are recognising the test and for general information go to: www.ielts.org
Institute of Linguists
- Diploma in English for International Communication tests English language skills at degree-equivalent level. Last awarded 2004.
LCCI International Qualifications
- English for Business (EFB) – pass at Level 3
- English for Commerce (EFC) – pass at Level 3
- Spoken English for Industry and Commerce (SEFIC) – pass at Level 3
- English Language Skills Assessment (ELSA) Reading & Listening. Test Score of 383/500
Malaysian University English Test (MUET)
For further information, please contact Malaysian Examinations Council, Bangunan MPM, Persiaran 1, Bandar Baru Selayang, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
tel: +60 (0) 3 6136 9663
fax: +60 (0) 3 6136 1488
Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
A score of 80 or above for admission to higher education in the UK, and 90 or above should be required for programmes with high literary content.
OCNW ESOL International Level 3 (QCF Level 3, CEFR Level C2)
OCNW ESOL International Level 2 (QCF Level 2, CEFR Level C1)
The Password Test
Password is an online English language test designed for students preparing for academic study. It is most suitable for students joining international foundation programmes, pre-sessional courses, pre-Masters programmes and courses in English for academic purposes. The test is aligned to the CEFR and discriminates between CEFR level A2 to C1. Password takes one hour to complete, is securely delivered online, and gives instant test results and certificates which meet UKBA requirements.
Further information, including the location of Password test centres is available at: www.englishlanguagetesting.co.uk
Pearson Language Tests
Pearson Test of English General (PTE General): consisting of two parts: a written paper and an oral exam. The written paper tests listening, reading, comprehension and writing skills. Both parts are externally assessed. Universities and colleges may accept Level 3 (Council of Europe Level B2), Level 4 (Council of Europe Level C1) or Level 5 (Council of Europe Level C2) for entry at an undergraduate or postgraduate level.
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic): A computer-based test of international academic English recognised by over 1000 programs worldwide including hundreds of universities around the UK, as well as the UK Border Agency. Test takers receive an overall score and sub-scores for reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
The test is available throughout the year at secure test delivery centres around the world. Scores are available online typically within 5 business days and students can prepare using official PTE Academic practice tests. Most institutions will require a PTE Academic score in the range of 50-64. Some institutions may list a higher or lower score depending on the course.
Further information is available at www.pearsonpte.com/testme
University of Reading
- Test in English for Educational Purposes (TEEP)
Reading, listening and writing are reported on the performance certificate, both as independent scores and as an overall composite score. An additional Language Knowledge paper is taken into account when estimating the overall composite score for Band Scores 5.0-6.5. Scores above and below this range are not affected.
Trinity College London
Graded examinations in ESOL:
- Grades 7, 8 and 9 as evidence of spoken English ability (NQF Level 1);
- Grades 10 and 11 as evidence of spoken English ability (NQF Level 2);
- Grade 12 as evidence of spoken English ability (NQF Level 3).
Integrated Skills in English (ISE):
- ISE II as evidence of all skills in English (NQF Level 1);
- ISE III as evidence of all skills in English (NQF Level 2);
- ISE IV as evidence of all skills in English (NQF Level 3).
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test is offered in internet-based (iBT) and paper-based (PBT) formats. Please visit www.ets.org/toefl/locations to locate your nearest test centre.
The TOEFL iBT consists of four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing, and the entire test is four hours long. Scores are split into the four sections and an overall total score is provided.
The test is recognised and accepted in over 6000 institutions globally. View the complete list of universities and colleges that accept TOEFL at www.ets.org/toefl/ukdirectory. Each institution will list their TOEFL score requirements on their website and these may vary.
For further information on TOEFL please visit www.ets.org/toefl.
Warwick English Language Test
- A test of language proficiency consisting of three papers, which together predict a candidate’s language ability at either a pre-university (foundation) or university (undergraduate and graduate) level. The skills tested are English grammar and usage, writing and reading. There is no speaking or listening test. Grades are reported on a formal certificate with information on the reverse about level of achievement. Further information is available from:
The WELT Administrator, CELTE, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL.