Testing your English language proficiency
The universities and colleges that you choose should tell you what standard of English, both written and spoken, you need for the course that you’re considering. If English is not your first language, most universities will require you to have a qualification in English or to take a specified test in English.
In addition, if your first language is not English but you are studying a qualification all or in part in English, the university should tell you their requirements. You should contact the admissions office or international office to find out which proficiency tests are acceptable.
If you require a student visa, you will need to show evidence of your English ability. Find out more about which tests are UKBA-approved. Your selected university or college may also have their own criteria and will advise you on their requirements.
The English language tests in the list below may not meet the UKBA requirements.
Anglia Examinations Syndicate
- AcCEPT Proficiency is the Ascentis Anglia ESOL International Proficiency level assessment designed for non-native English speakers requiring English for higher education. It is managed by Ascentis and Anglia Examinations.
- For information on the mapping of the qualification to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference), please see the Anglia Examinations website.
British Institutes Certificates
- British Institutes examinations test the following competences in the English language: reading, free writing, listening, speaking and use of English at every level set out in the CEFR.
- Universities may accept the following certificates for entry:
- ESOL B2 Vantage
- ESOL C1 Effective Proficiency
- ESOL C2 Mastery
- For further information please visit www.britishinstitutes.org
Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Cambridge English exams are accepted by UK universities and colleges as proof of English language skills. They are also accepted by the UK Border Agency for Tier 4 student visas. They can be taken in 2,500 centres in over 130 countries. To find your nearest centre visit: 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 Higher, commonly known as Business English Certificate Higher – BEC H (NQF Level 2)
- Cambridge English: Business Vantage, commonly known as Business English Certificate Vantage – BEC V (NQF Level 1)
- ESOL Skills for Life Level 2 (NQF Level 2)
For more information including which Cambridge English exam(s) are accepted by the university or college you are applying to visit: www.CambridgeESOL.org
Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
- GCE O Level English Language (Syllabus numbers 1119, 1120, 1123, 1124, 1125 and 1126) – grade C or better
- IGCSE First Language English (Syllabus number 0500, 0522, 0524 and 0561) – grade C or better
- IGCSE English as a Second Language (Syllabus number 0510, 0511 and 0526) – 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 ASCENTIS, Cambridge ESOL, City and Guilds, Edexcel, Education Development International plc (EDI), English Speaking Board (ESB), National Open College Network (NOCN) and Trinity College London (TCL). The levels are set to equivalent NQF Levels.
City and Guilds
- English for Office Skills – Levels 1 and 2
- International ESOL Diploma (including International Spoken ESOL) – available at six levels
- Level 1/Level 2 Certificate in 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 1 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 2)
- EDI Entry 2 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 3)
- EDI Entry 3 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 4)
- EDI Level 1 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 5)
- EDI Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 6)
- EDI Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (JETSET Level 7)
English Speaking Board
- ESB Entry Level Certificate in EFL Entry 1 (ESOL)
- ESB Entry Level Certificate in EFL Entry 2 (ESOL)
- ESB Entry Level Certificate in EFL Entry 3 (ESOL)
- ESB Level 1 Certificate in EFL (ESOL)
- ESB Level 2 Certificate in EFL (ESOL)
- ESB Level 3 Certificate in EFL (ESOL)
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
- Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) – English Language (see Tariff tables)
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 130 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
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) International Qualifications
- English for Business (EFB) – pass at Level 3
- English for Accounting – 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.
The Password Test
Password is an online English language test designed for students preparing for academic study. It is suitable for students planning to join international foundation programmes, pre-sessional courses, pre-Masters programmes and courses in English for academic purposes. Password is also used to pre-test students joining undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Password is aligned to the CEFR and discriminates between CEFR level A2 to C1. It takes one hour to complete, is securely delivered online, and gives instant test results.
Further information, including the location of Password education counselling centres is available at www.englishlanguagetesting.co.uk
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 2,500 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, speaking and writing are reported on the performance certificate, both as independent scores and as an overall composite score. An additional Language Knowledge paper is expressed as ‘average’, ‘above average’ or ‘below average’ and used to adjust the overall grade in borderline cases. Minimum acceptance levels for joining academic courses usually vary from 5.0 to 7.5 overall.
Test of Interactive English (TIE)
The Test of Interactive English (TIE) is an international English language examination, developed and quality assured by the Accreditation and Co-ordination of English Language Services (ACELS). ACELS is a function of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). NQAI provides official certification of candidate attainment in this test.
TIE is an integrated four skills test which assesses learners’ communicative and interactive skills in both predictable and spontaneous situations. It assesses learners of English for academic, professional, business and general purposes.
Performance is measured by what the candidate can do according to the CEFR Scale of Language Proficiency.
- Test of Interactive English C2
- Test of Interactive English C1
- Test of Interactive English B2
- Test of Interactive English B1
For further information please visit www.tieexams.com
Trinity College London
Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE):
- Grades 4-6 (Elementary) (NQF level Entry 2-Entry 3)
- Grades 7-9 (Intermediate) (NQF level 1)
- Grades 10-12 (Advanced) (NQF level 2-3).
Integrated Skills in English (ISE):
- ISE II (NQF Level 1)
- ISE III (NQF Level 2)
- ISE IV (NQF Level 3).
For further information please visit www.trinitycollege.co.uk/ESOL
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 8,000 institutions and agencies 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.