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Today, universities and colleges around the world offer courses taught exclusively in English, making it easier for international students to enroll in study abroad programmes. If you are applying to a university or even an international company, you will most likely need an English certificate to prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the language.
Passing an English test and getting the language certificate requires time, effort, and a lot of dedication. Below we will go through some of the general information about the different English certificates that are widely accepted around the world. This will help you better understand their structure and assessment and decide which certificate is the right for you.
The TOEFL iBT takes 3 hours to complete. On the other hand, the paper version of it only takes 2 hours and 25 minutes since it does not include the speaking part.
The test consists of 4 parts. Each part has a maximum of 30 points for an overall of 120 points.
The first two parts will test your reading and listening comprehension skills with some multiple-choice exercises.
In the speaking section your answers are recorded, sent to an online network, and then assessed by official raters (usually between 3 and 6). The written part is also assessed by this network.
The most common score required by universities is 70-90 (B1/B2). Some universities also require minimum scores in some of the 4 parts of the exam. The price of the TOEFL® iBT varies greatly depending on the country and test centre. Given the high cost and difficulty of the exam, it is always advised to participate in a targeted TOEFL test preparation course.
The overall tests is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The IELTS test is available both online and on paper. In both versions, the oral part is administered in person by a certified examiner.
The results of the IELTS test are scored on a scale from 1 to 9. Common scores required for admission to English programmes are usually between 5.5 and 6.5. As with the TOEFL test, IELTS prices vary from one country to another. The IELTS certificate is valid for two years.
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The B2 First (formerly known as First Certificate in English - FCE) is about the same level as the usual scores for the TOEFL® test (B1 - B2) and IELTS 5.5 - 6.5. The test takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.
The C1 Advanced (formerly known as the Certificate in Advanced English - CAE) is based on the high C1-C2 levels (comparable to IELTS 6.5 - 8.0) and is accepted by many UK universities and over 9,000 educational institutions and companies worldwide. It takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
The C2 Proficiency (formerly known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English - CPE) is the most advanced exam, graded at the C2 level, which is well above the maximum scale of the TOEFL® test and comparable to an 8.5 and above on the IELTS test. The exam takes about 4 hours.
All three certificates (B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency) are divided into 4 parts:
- Reading and Use of English
The Cambridge certificate is mainly used in the UK, but it is also accepted by many universities and colleges worldwide. Unlike other certificates, Cambridge certificates have no expiry date.
Unless you have used your English language consistently, it is advised to take a new test and get an up-to-date certification.
Attendance and completion of a preparatory course leads to the attainment of a professional language level, which is necessary for the acquisition of the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge language certificate. The language courses are aimed both at those interested in having their language level officially determined and certified and at people who want to apply to university or for a job in an English-speaking country.
- TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- IELTS test (International English Language Testing System)
- Cambridge Certificate (Cambridge Certificates)
The Cambridge Certificate sets a target level that you must demonstrate in order to pass the exam. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is a division of Cambridge University that offers the following certificates:
- Certificate of Advanced English (CAE)
- Cambridge First Certificate of English (FCE)
- Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)
- Cambridge English Preliminary (PET)
- Key English Test (KET)
It is a certificate with no expiration date that confirms that you have reached a high level of English. It is a great addition to your CV and increases your value on the international job market.
Result: The TOEFL and IELTS certificates determine your current language level. After taking and passing the test you will receive a certificate attesting how many points you have scored. For the Cambridge English test, you have to achieve a certain score and thus a certain language level in order to pass it. You will then receive a certificate. You can pass the exam with a grade of A, B or C.
The TOEFL test is administered by an American organisation so it is more suitable for working with American companies. The IELTS test is published by "Cambridge English" and is therefore more suitable for stays in the Commonwealth. Many schools and companies accept the results of both exams. However, specific institutions might prefer one over the other, so always check before booking your preparatory course.
The IELTS consists of the same four setions (writing, reading, listening and speaking). The first three (writing, reading and listening) are tested in a written test, which lasts 160 minutes. The oral part of the exam lasts about 15 minutes.
The test for the Cambridge Certificate depends on the exam chosen. Usually the test runs over two days. On the first day, depending on your language level, reading, writing and listening are tested for 1-2 hours each. The test can be taken on a computer or be written by hand. On the second day, the oral part of the Cambridge exam takes place. This is often taken together with a fellow student and lasts about 15 minutes.
TOEFL: 240 USD
IELTS: 234 EUR
Cambridge Certificate: Prices vary depending on the English exam as well as the exam centre:
For example, the cost of a Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is currently around 180 euros.
The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) is about185 euros.
And the Cambridge Certificate in Business English (BEC) is between 130 and 190 euros.
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