My English Exam Questions Answered

Which English exam do I need for a study VISA in the UK?

The level of English exam you need, in order to get a study visa in the UK, depends on the course you want to study. 

To study a course below degree level- 

You will need to pass an English language test set by a Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider. 

The SELT test will assess your reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities. The level you will be expected pass is CEFR (Common European Framework for Languages) level B1.

To study a course at degree level at a college that is not a Higher Education Institute (HEI)- 

You will also need to take a SELT test but you will need to pass CEFR level B2.

To study at degree level at a Higher Education Institute (HEI)-

To study a course at degree level or above at a Higher Education Institute (HEI) you may not need a SELT test. The HEI may have their own method to assess your English language ability. You will need to check with the individual HEI you intend to apply to. However, they will expect your English to be at the equivalent of CEFR level B2. 

SELT courses-

There are two different test results that are accepted as part of your visa application.  

Integrated Skills in English (ISE)- Trinity College London

IELTS for UKVI- IELTS SELT Consortium test

It is important you only take a test on the SELT list and book it at an approved centre. The UK government website has a list of approved test centres.

Which English exam do I need for a study VISA in the USA?

In the United States you do not need to prove your level of English language to apply for their Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  However, you will probably need to prove your English language ability when you apply for college. Most SEVP certified schools and colleges will expect a certain level of English language ability for you to study there. 

Each college will have different requirements so you will need to check with the institution you are hoping to apply to. 

The two most commonly accepted tests for SEVP schools and colleges are:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Test System (IELTS)

Which English exam do I need for a study VISA in Canada?

In order to be granted a study visa for Canada you will need to demonstrate your English language skills to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Most institutions will also require you to prove your English language skills but each college or university has different entry criteria. Accepted tests and scores vary so it is definitely worth checking with your potential college or university before you book a test. 

Commonly accepted English language tests are:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test
  • Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) assessment
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) – Academic

Which English exam do I need for a study VISA in Australia?

To gain a student visa for Australia most students will need to prove their English language skills by providing a ‘Confirmation of Enrolment’ on a course or a test score from one of the Department of Home Affair’s (DOHA) recognised English language tests.  

There are five different English language qualifications accepted as part of an Australian visa application. The score you need to achieve varies, depending on your course and the college you apply to. It is best to check with the institution you intend to study at first. 

These courses are accepted as proof of your English language skills: 

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based test (paper-based test is accepted from some countries)
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Occupational English Test (OET) 

Some students will be exempt from providing test results, for example, citizens and passport holders of the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland. It is best to check on the Australian Government website for more information. 

Which English exam do I need for a study VISA in Ireland?

There are minimum English language requirements needed to gain a student visa in Ireland. The test scores are lower for short courses and lower level courses. 

However, to study at degree level or above the college or university often require higher test scores. You will need to check with the institution you would like to study with before you book your test. 

Your certificate or test results need to have been issued within two years of the expected start date of the course.

Accepted English language exams are:

  • English Test for Academic and Professional Purposes (ETAPP) 
  • Cambridge English Language Assessments (CELA), formerly Cambridge ESOL
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Pearson Test (PTE)

Which English exam do I need to work in the medical industry in the UK?

Working Within the Medical Industry in the UK

For Nursing and Midwifery

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) require all applicants to provide evidence of their English language ability before they can apply to be registered. They accept two tests:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

An overall score of 7 or over is required in the Academic version of the test. You must score a minimum of 6.5 in the writing section and 7 in the reading, listening and speaking sections.

Occupational English Test (OET)

An OET examination certificate confirming you achieved a minimum grade C+ in the writing section and a minimum grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections.

To Work as a Doctor 

The General Medical Council (GMC) also accepts IELTS and OET as suitable evidence of English language ability, for anyone wanting to work as a doctor in the UK.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

An overall score of 7.5 is needed with a minimum score of 7 in the reading, listening, writing and speaking sections.

Occupational English Test (OET)

For GMC registration you will need to achieve a grade B overall or score of 350 or above, across all areas of the test. 

Which English exam do I need to work in the medical industry in the US?

Working Within the Medical industry in the United States

To work as a registered nurse (RN)

To work as a registered nurse in the United States you will be required to pass an English language exam. Three different tests are generally accepted, but it varies depending on the state you are applying to work within. The test scores you require also vary from state to state so you will need to check.   

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) 

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

If you are a registered nurse who went to nursing school in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), or Ireland you will be exempt from taking an English language exam. You will not need to take an English exam if your spoken language in nursing school was English and/or the nursing school textbooks were written in English.

To work as a doctor

All physicians who qualified outside of the U.S. or Canada are required to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). As part of this exam your English language skills will be evaluated. 

The test and scores required vary from state to state. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is generally accepted, however it is best to check with the medical board in the state you hope to work in first.  

Which English exam do I need to work in the medical industry in Canada?

Working Within the Medical Industry in Canada

Working as a nurse

There are two different exams which allow you to work in Canada as a nurse. 

Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN)

This is an English language test designed specifically for internationally educated nurses (IENs) and appears to be the preferred choice of English language qualification. It is recognized by all nursing licensing bodies across Canada. 

The following scores are the minimum needed:

Writing- 7

Speaking- 8

Listening- 10

Reading- 8

International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS)

IELTS is also accepted. An overall score of 7 is needed and the following minimum scores are required:

Writing- 7

Speaking- 7

Listening- 7.5

Reading- 6.5

Working as a doctor

Each state in Canada has different English language skills they accept, in order to work as a doctor. International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS) is commonly accepted. It is best to check with the state you intend to work in for the scores needed. For example, in the State of Alberta you need to score at least 7 in each of the writing, speaking, listening and reading components of the IELTS academic exam.

Which English exam do I need to work in the medical industry in Australia?

Working within the medical industry in Australia

To work within any medical profession

In order to apply for initial registration with either the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia or Medical Board of Australia, you may need to pass an English language test. Four different exams are accepted. These standards also apply to all other health professions including dentistry, pharmacy and psychology.

You may meet other criteria that demonstrate your English language skills so it is best to check with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language iBT (TOEFL)

A minimum total score of 94 is needed. Minimum scores for individual sections are:

Listening- 24

Reading- 24

Writing- 27

Speaking- 23

Occupational English Test for Nurses (OET)

You will need a minimum of grade B in all components- listening, reading, writing and speaking.

International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS)

A minimum overall score of 7 is needed and you will also need to score a minimum of 7 in each of the components- listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Pearson English Language Test Academic (PTE)

An overall score of 65 is needed with a minimum of 65 in each of the four skills- listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Which English exam do I need to work in the medical industry in Ireland?

Working within the medical industry in Ireland

For Nursing and Midwifery

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) require all applicants to provide evidence of their English language ability before they can apply to be registered. They accept two tests:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or IELTS Academic Test for UKVI

An overall score of 7 or over is required in both versions of the test. You must score a minimum of 6.5 in the listening and reading sections and 7 in the writing and speaking sections.

Occupational English Test (OET)

THE NMBI will accept an OET examination certificate confirming you achieved a minimum grade C+ in the listening and reading sections and a minimum grade B in the writing and speaking sections.

To work as a Doctor 

The Medical Council (MC) accepts IELTS, OET and CAE Advanced English as evidence of English language ability for anyone wanting to work as a doctor in Ireland.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

An overall score of 7 is needed, with a minimum score of 6.5, in each of the reading, listening, writing and speaking sections.

Occupational English Test (OET)

For GMC registration you will need to achieve a grade B overall or score of 350 or above, across all areas of the test. 

Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) 

You will need to pass this exam at CEFR Level C1 or C2.


Which exam is best to enter University in the UK?

Best English Exams for University in the UK

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic is the most widely accepted exam for UK universities as it is seen as the most accurate test of English language levels. 

It depends on the university you apply to, as to the score you will need to achieve. Some degrees, such as law and medicine, require higher scores. 

Individual universities will set out the exams and scores they accept but it is always best to check first. Normally these tests are accepted: 

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Pearson Test (PTE)
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)

Which exam is best to enter University in the US?

Best English Exams for University in the U.S.

To apply for a degree at an American university or college, a good level of English language is needed. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the most favoured exam but the scores you may need will vary, depending on the institution. 

Most American universities also accept International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Again, check with the institution you hope to study with. 

Which exam is best to enter University in Canada?

Best English Exams for University in Canada

All Canadian universities and colleges accept International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as their proof of English language ability. 

There is no standard test score needed but you will probably need to score at least 6.5 in all four components (reading, writing, listening and speaking). 

Check with the university you are applying to and find out what score you will need. 

Which exam is best to enter University in Australia?

Best English Exams for University in Australia

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the most commonly accepted English language test by Australian universities. Each university or college will set their own score requirements. 

Some institutions also accept: 

  • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) Certificates
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE Academic)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Which exam is best to enter University in the Ireland?

Best English Exams for University in Ireland

The score you need for your English language exam varies, depending on the level you plan to study at. Most universities will accept the following tests and scores as proof of English language proficiency:

International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS)

To study at degree-level you will need an overall score between 6.0 and 6.5.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The minimum score needed is 220 for the computer-based test and 550 for the paper-based test. 

Pearson Test of English (PTE Academic)

You will need to achieve a minimum overall score of 36 to apply to Irish universities. 

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Certificates

The minimum score needed is grade C. 

Always check with the university or college first to make sure you choose an English language test they accept. 


What is the difference between Cambridge First and IELTS?

IELTS & Cambridge First (FCE) and Advanced (CAE) are quite different English exams…

IELTS

Type of English tested:  Academic – the ‘language of university’.  Students read and write about statistics, processes, fields of study, politics, economics and range of academic disciplines.  No specific subject knowledge is required.

People mainly take IELTS for:  Immigration, jobs in the medical profession and entry to Higher Education (Colleges and Universities).

Grading system:  IELTS is graded on a sliding scale between 3.0 and 9.0 (this includes the .5s). 

 

Cambridge First and Advanced English Exams

Type of English tested:  General English.  There is a wide range of topics covered such as the family, the work place, holidays…

People mainly take these tests for:  Improving General English for work and friends however some universities do accept them for entry.

Grading system: 

 

Cambridge First

A

B

C pass

B1

 

Cambridge Advanced

A

B

C pass

B2

 

To understand how these scores compare with other exams, see our English test conversion wheel

Which Universities in the UK accept Cambridge CAE for entry?

Most universities in the UK accept Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The minimum grade accepted may vary at each university.

This includes the top 24 UK universities: 

  • University of Birmingham 
  • University of Bristol 
  • University of Cambridge 
  • Cardiff University 
  • Durham University 
  • University of Edinburgh 
  • University of Exeter 
  • University of Glasgow 
  • Imperial College London 
  • King's College London 
  • University of Leeds 
  • University of Liverpool 
  • London School of Economics and Political Science 
  • University of Manchester 
  • Newcastle University 
  • University of Nottingham 
  • University of Oxford 
  • Queen Mary University of London 
  • Queen’s University Belfast 
  • University of Sheffield 
  • University of Southampton 
  • University College London 
  • University of Warwick 
  • University of York 

Which is the cheapest English exam?

It really does depend on what level of course you are planning to take and where! And whether you are taking an exam in order to study or gain a visa. 

Within the UK, Cambridge exams tend to be a little cheaper than IELTS. Here are a couple of examples of exam prices in London to give you a general idea:

IELTS Academic exam- £180 

Cambridge English First (FCE) paper-based- £144

Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) paper-based- £179

SELT approved Trinity College, London, Integrated Skills in English exam, B1 level- £180

Which English exam is best for improving my General English?

The Cambridge English exams are generally regarded as the best exams to work towards if you are looking to improve your general English. 

Depending on your current level of English you will choose to study towards either the First Certificate in English (FCE) or the Cambridge Advanced Exam (CAE).

The First Certificate in English exam is popular with students from all over the world. It will prove you can live and work in an English-speaking country and you are able to study a course taught in English. It is the ideal course for someone looking to work in an English-speaking office or work in a job, such as an au-pair. 

The more advanced Cambridge Advanced Exam is aimed at students hoping to work at a higher level than the FCE, such as in a management position, as well as anyone hoping to apply to university. Working towards the CAE exam will help you develop skills needed for studying, working and living in an English-speaking country. 

Whilst working towards an IELTS exam will help you with entry to university, it does not improve your general English skills as well as the Cambridge exams. 

Which exam do I need to work as a Transport for London (TFL) taxi driver?

Transport for London (TFL) require anyone hoping to work as a taxi driver to show they have proficient English skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.  

They currently accept the following tests as evidence of English language ability:

International English Language Testing System General or Academic (IELTS)

Trinity’s ISE I Secure English Language Test (SELT) 

TFL accept the CEFR level B1 score as evidence of English language skills. 

ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) Skills for Life and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) certificates may be accepted by Transport for London, but not always. If you are unsure whether your qualification is okay it would be best to contact TFL directly.



Which English exam do I need for immigration into the UK?

English Exams Needed for Immigration into the UK

There are different immigration routes into the UK and all will require a Secure English Language Testing (SELT) exam to prove English language abilities.

SELT tests must be taken through one of the following two approved providers. Each provider offers two different types of test, one for speaking and listening and one for reading, writing, listening and speaking. The test you take depends on the immigration route you are applying for.

Trinity College London-

  • Integrated Skills in English (ISE)- reading, writing, speaking and listening 
  • Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)- speaking and listening only

IELTS SELT Consortium

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for UKVI- reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Life Skills- speaking and listening only

The following immigration routes will require you to show your English language abilities in reading, writing, speaking and listening so you will need to take either the IELTS for UKVI test or ISE test.

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) 
  • Tier 2 (General) 
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) 
  • Tier 4 (General)

The remaining immigration routes require you to sit a test assessing your speaking and listening abilities only so you will need to take either the GESE test or Life Skills test. 

  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) 
  • Representative of an overseas business 
  • Partner 
  • Parent 
  • Settlement 
  • Citizenship

Which English exam do I need for immigration into the US?

English Exams Needed for Immigration into the U.S.

Although you may not need to prove your English language ability to get a visa to work or study in the U.S. you will probably find you will need to show potential employers or colleges your ability in English. 

Cambridge English exams (CAE and FCE) are often accepted as proof. The IELTS test is also recognised as proof of ability. It depends on where you are planning to work or study, when you arrive. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website is a good place to go to check specific requirements. 

To become a U.S. citizen you will be required to take the naturalization test. Part of this test involves the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) English language test for anyone not from a native English-speaking country. You will be tested on your reading, writing and speaking.

Which English exam do I need for immigration into Canada?

English Exams Needed for Immigration into Canada 

To be able to immigrate to Canada you will need to prove your English ability to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). There are two accepted English language test providers:

 International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 

You will need to take the General IELTS test rather than the academic test.

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

The General test is accepted instead of the General LS test.

Each exam will test you on your listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities. The score you need will depend on your employment or place of study. It is best to check with them directly before booking a test.

Which English exam do I need for immigration into the Australia?

English Exams Needed for Immigration into Australia

The Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) accept four different English language tests if you are applying for a General Skilled Migration and Permanent Employment Sponsored visa. 

  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Certificates
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE Academic)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Depending on the score you receive from your test, you will be awarded an English language ability level. These levels are: vocational, competent, proficient or superior. 

The following visas all require at least a ‘competent’ test score but you can gain extra immigration points by gaining a score which achieves ‘proficient’ or ‘superior.’

  • Temporary skills shortage visa (482)
  • Employer nomination scheme (ENS)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
  • Most Skilled Migration Visas (189 visa, 190 visa and 489 visa)

The Department of Home Affairs have a list of test scores and their equivalencies, for all English language tests, on their website. 

To see what English exam score you need for a student visa, see previous answers on this English exam questions page.

Which English exam do I need for immigration into the Ireland?

English Exams Needed for Immigration into Ireland

To immigrate to Ireland the English language exam you need depends on the visa you apply for. To work as a health professional or to study you will need to prove your English language ability (see previous answers on this English exams questions page.)

For general employment visas it is probably best to check with The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) as there may be English language requirements for more skilled workers. Potential employers may also ask for evidence of your English language ability before you apply for a visa.  

There is no clear-cut list of acceptable English exams needed for immigration into Ireland so it is always best to check with their Department of Justice and Equality for clarification. 


How long does it take to get a high score at IELTS?

The time it takes to achieve a high score at IELTS depends on the level you are starting from. 

As a basic rule you would need 15 hours of IELTS tuition per week, for around 6 weeks, to increase your current score by 0.5. If you study for 30 hours per week you should increase your IELTS score by 0.5 within three weeks.

So, if you wish to achieve an overall score of 7.0 and you started at 5.0, you would need to study intensively (30 hours a week of classroom study) for approximately three months. 

What level of English do I need for my marriage visa?

To apply for a UK spousal visa you will need to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) CEFR level A2 in Speaking and Listening.

You would need to take either:

  • Trinity College, London- Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)- speaking and listening only
  • IELTS SELT Consortium- Life Skills- speaking and listening only