You know English is indispensable nowadays, but is it necessary too to have an official certificate to prove it? Do you know all the different types of exams? How much they cost? How long do they take? These are the 5 types of certificates that you could get to confirm your English level. Pay attention to them and make sure you choose the correct one before you start to preparing.
Trinity College, academic world and workplace
Trinity College London makes these exams to certify the level of comprehension in English, mostly oral. Usually they are used as admission tests to universities, mainly in the UK, or as certificates for some job offers. There are 12 different levels, depending on the knowledge you have of English. Besides that fact, you can also choose the topic of the exam. Trinity College London has its own higher certificates: the GESE and the ISE.
What is GESE?
GESE = Grade Examinations in Spoken English.
These exams are made individually with the examiner and they just test your oral ability. There are 12 levels and the examiner goes to your country to test you.
What is ISE?
ISE = Integrated Skills in English
These exams are divided in 4 different parts: reading, listening, writing and speaking. The last one being 50% of the final grade.
Both types of exams are recognized and gathered in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and their prices oscillate depending on the level of the exam. In the GESE exams, the lowest level costs 33 euros, and the highest, 130. In the ISE exams, the lowest level costs 90 euros, and the highest, 195 euros.
TOEFL, for access to academic institutions
The TOEFL, or Test of English as Foreign Language, is an exam that evaluates the level of English knowledge, and the ability to communicate in English in the academic world.
The exam consists of 4 tests: reading, listening, writing and speaking. You can obtain a maximum of 30 points in each one. The final grade is the sum up of the 4 parts, 120 being the highest qualification, which expires in 2 years since you get the official certification.
You can register yourself on their website ETS.
TOEFL exam is oriented to people that need to be admitted to some schools or universities abroad, or they simply need the certification to apply for a job or student grant. More than 8.500 universities and institutions in 130 countries accept this exam. It is basically thought for those who want to continue their studies in a foreign country, specially the United States. They exist three types of exam, which will depend on the centre you make the test.
- TOEFL IBT (Internet Based TOEFL), made with a computer on the Internet. The majority of these tests are made this way.
- TOEFL PBT is a traditional exam, made with paper. It is offered 6 times a year in the centres where they have not yet introduced the other typology (TOEFL IBT).
- TOEFL on a computer (Computer based TOEFL) was the 2nd to appear and its execution is made with a CD.
Also, the price oscillates depending on the location, you can find the price of your exam in here.
TOEIC, for the professional environment
TOEIC, or Test of English for International Communication, is done to certify your English knowledge in the workplace and to apply for many jobs, most of them in the United States. The result of this test is required by many companies, especially the multinationals.
This is exam, as well as the TOEFL, can’t be passed or not. The final mark is a punctuation between 10 and 990. Each institution or company will require you a specific mark to meet the minimum requisites.
The TOEIC consists of 200 test questions, with 4 possible answers each one. The questions are handwritten with audio to assess reading and the listening comprehension. The mark you get is valid for 2 years, and you can see the different types of exam here. The prices are about 120 euros per exam.
IELTS, for academic or work reasons
The IELTS, or International English Language Testing System, offers 2 types of exam: one academic (IELTS Academic) and another professional (IELTS General training). The first one certifies your English understanding and is required by foreign academic institutions; the second one certifies your knowledge to work in a specific job in English. In both cases they will test your knowledge of British English, grammar and pronunciation.
The IELTS is divided on 4 tests, the same as the TOEFL: reading, listening, writing and speaking. You can register on the Internet here and, it is valid for 2 years since getting the official certificate.
This exam is created by the Cambridge University and the British Council. In this case, it is evaluated with a punctuation that goes from 1 to 9, being 6,5 or 7 the minimum punctuation required.
The price for dates before 2017 is 210 euros, and here you can find more detailed information.
Cambridge University, to evaluate your complete knowledge of English
The Cambridge University exams are the most chosen among young students who study English to evaluate their knowledge in 4 different areas. The most famous are: Cambridge English First, Advanced and Proficiency. Companies and universities all over the world accept them to prove your English. This is the case of the most important universities in Australia. In those centres, the Advanced certificate is the minimum required for the foreign students.
This is a general exam to measure your level. You can pass it or not, you only obtain the certificate once you have pass every part of the exam. The tests consists in 4 different parts: reading, listening, writing, speaking.
These are the different levels:
PET (Preliminary English Test)
Corresponds to an elementary level.
FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English) Corresponds to a pre-university level. Without a doubt, the FCE is one of the best known Cambridge exams and is recognized in the majority of countries. It opens doors both academically and professionally.
CAE (Certificate of Advanced English) Is a level higher then the FCE and everyday more important, it is required to attend the university in the UK. It represents a test of linguistic capacities and is an excellent professional tool.
CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) This test requires both linguistic and cultural knowledge. It the best reference for the majority of British universities, companies and institutions.
BEC (Business English Certificate) Is obtained after three exams (three levels): Preliminary, BEC Vantage and BEC Higher. It consists in verifing an advanced knowledge of English for Business. You can choose which best adapts to your needs here.
The price increases depending on the test you take, from 96 euros (PET) to 220 (CPE).
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