Posted at June 17, 2022 by Graviela Christie

In setting a dream to go abroad, there are requirements you need to fulfill. One of which is to prepare for the English language proficiency tests. English language proficiency tests are needed to measure your capability to communicate in English. The purpose of your test and the targeted country will affect which English test you should take. So, if you are still confused about which one to take, here is the explanation of each test that you can read to find the one that is right for you!


The first and most common test is the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). This type of exam is perfect for those who want to pursue their career in the United States. As it is administered and designed by ETS (Educational Training Service), the TOEFL test is recognized as the standard test for the English language in 10.000+ universities and 150+ countries. 

    Compared to paper tests, the most popular way to take the TOEFL test is the internet-based (iBT). The TOEFL iBT will take 180 minutes to test 4 sections, which are speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Your score will be written between 0 to 120 on the certificate with two years validity.


The IELTS test dominates the United Kingdom university applications and immigration, where some universities in Australia and Canada also use IELTS for their English proficiency measurements. This test is divided into 4 sections, which are speaking, reading, writing, and listening. However, you will be given two choices in the writing and reading sessions, which are Academic and General Training. Academic is intended for university applications, while general training would suit living or working abroad purposes. 

IELTS is usually conducted paper-based, but nowadays most people prefer using the computer-based method. The speaking section of both IELTS exams methods is conducted in a face-to-face setting. It takes 175 minutes to complete your IELTS exam, with the overall score ranging from 1 to 9 and the score for each section will be written on your certificate with validity for 2 years.


    The TOEIC test is mostly used in the business industry for professional certification. This test is used in Asia for companies to measure their employees’ English levels in communicating with English-speaking clients and colleagues. Some companies even purchase a license to provide TOEIC as an internal test with their own customized version.

Unlike the previous exams, the TOEIC test is divided into two types. The first type focuses on receptive English skills (reading and listening), which is the more popular one of the two. The Listening and Reading test is used in companies and some universities require this type of exam score for their own purposes. The two skills are weighted fairly equal, with the final score coming from each half.

 On the other hand, another type of the test focuses on productive English skills (speaking and writing). This type of test will give an accurate assessment of students’ spoken and written English skills by providing meaningful feedback, perfect for those who communicate with English in a business setting. Students can take both exams or one of them, based on their needs. The time length and the scoring criteria for each type are different. The test result will be valid for two years.

4. Cambridge

Last but not least, the Cambridge level test. Cambridge exam is used in institutional testing and university applications in the United Kingdom. Each Cambridge exam assesses specific levels of English according to your skills, so measure your appropriate English level by taking the Cambridge placement test first. The Cambridge exam provides you with a certificate that lasts for a lifetime. So, you can continue updating your certificate at any time.

    The Cambridge English level is divided into 6 levels:

  1. Elementary level (A2)
  2. Intermediate level (B1)
  3. Upper-intermediate level (B2) - first certificate
  4. Advanced level (C1)
  5. Proficient level (C2)

This exam will test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Depending on your level, every module will take approximately 1 to 2 hours. The speaking test is conducted with another student to converse with for 15 minutes. The Cambridge exam is often provided in school or work settings, but exams for individuals are available a few times each year, so you need to plan ahead. 

Those are the English test types comparisons for you to consider because each test is designed differently to suit your purpose. Whether it is to study abroad, work in an international company, or just to test your English proficiency, check for the exact requirements in your desired company or university to know which test to take and always plan in advance.


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