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English Test for Foreign Study

English Test for Foreign Study

Studying a UK degree as an international student has huge benefits. The UK is recognised globally for its high standards in education, which is one of the top reasons why it’s a great place to study.

Since the standard of teaching is so high, UK universities need to ensure that you can follow the course content and be successful. That’s why you need to prove your abilities by taking an English test before you apply.

There are many different types of English tests you can take. They all follow the same principles, but some will vary in length or price. It’s best to check with your university before deciding which one to take, as they may only accept certain tests.

To help you understand your options, here is your guide to the English test for foreign study – including how much they cost and how to pass them.

Why do you have to complete an English test?

Universities in the UK have a high standard of education. You need a good grasp of the language to keep up with the course content – and universities will want to make sure of this. An English test for foreign study will prove that you can understand the content and be successful. 

What are the main English tests you can take?

There are many different English tests you can take. Most universities will accept any test, but make sure you check before booking.

The seven most demanded tests required by UK universities are:

  1. IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System)
  2. TOEFL iBT
  3. PTE Academic UKVI
  4. Cambridge (CAE, CPE)
  5. LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
  6. PSI Services Skills for English UKVI B1
  7. DUOLINGO (accepted for a limited time only)

The most recognised English test for foreign study is the IELTS test.

The main differences between the tests are usually the result times, exam content and cost. No matter which test you take, they all follow the same structure to test your abilities. This includes sections that test your:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Most tests will take around three hours to complete, with little to no breaks in between. The price varies, but you can usually expect to pay around £170-200 per test. You’ll usually receive your results in no more than two weeks, but some tests will give you your score within 48 hours.

IELTS Overview

There are two different types of IELTS tests – academic and general training. You’ll usually need to take the academic test if you plan on studying in the UK as an international student.

How can I take the test?

You can book your test online, but you’ll need to take the IELTS in a testing centre. However, you can choose to take the test either:

  • On paper in a testing centre
  • Using a computer in a testing centre

What does the course involve?

The IELTS Academic test involves four exams, including a: 

  • 60-minute reading exercise
  • 60-minute writing exercise
  • 30-minute listening exercise
  • 11–14-minute speaking exercise

How much does it cost?

The IELTS exam will usually cost between £170 and £195 if you take it while living in the UK. If you live in India, the cost tends to be around INR 13,000 and 15,000.

How long does it take to complete?

The IELTS takes 2 hours and 45 minutes in total. You have to take the listening, reading and writing exams in one sitting, without any breaks in between. You can complete the speaking section at the same time, or you can take it a week before or after you’ve taken the other tests. 

How long does it take to get results?

You’ll get your results quicker if you opt to take the test on a computer, rather than on paper.

The IELTS test will deliver paper-based test results in 13 days, and online test results within 3-5 days.

How can you prepare for the IELTS?

There are lots of ways to prepare for your IELTS test. You can:

Complete sample test questions

Take the IELTS progress check

Read the IELTS scoring criteria

Study the test format

Purchase official IELTS practice materials, including a handbook and DVD

Read about what to expect on test day

TOEFL iBT Overview

The second most common English test is the TOEFL iBT. While it’s similar to the other tests, TOEFL iBT has been designed so it’s closer to the classroom experience.

How can I take the test?

You’ll need to book your test online, but you have the option with TOEFL iBT to take the test either:

  • At home using a computer
  • In a testing centre using a computer

What does the course involve?

The TOEFL iBT involves four tests, including a: 

  • 54-72-minute reading exercise
  • 50-minute writing exercise
  • 41-57-minute listening exercise
  • 17-minute speaking exercise

How much does it cost?

The TOEFL iBT cost varies depending on where you live. You can expect to pay around £170 if you take it while living in the UK, and around INR 14,000 if you’re living in India.

How long does it take to complete?

The TOEFL iBT test takes around 3 hours in total, but you should plan for an extra 30 minutes to check-in. You’ll need to complete all four sections of the test on the same day, with a 10-minute break allocated.

How long does it take to get results?

You’ll get your results of the TOEFL iBT test within 6-10 days.

How can you prepare for the IELTS?

There are lots of ways to prepare for your TOEFL iBT test. You can:

PTE Academic UKVI

If you plan on applying for a student route visa to study at degree level or above, you can opt to take the PTE Academic test. It’s known as one of the most flexible tests to book, with the quickest result times.

How can I take the test?

You’ll need to book online and you can only take the exam in a testing centre using a computer.

What does the course involve?

The PTE Academic test involves four tests, including a: 

  • 77-93-minute speaking and writing exercise
  • 32-40-minute reading exercise
  • 45-57-minute listening exercise

How much does it cost?

Like most tests, the PTE Academic cost varies depending on where you live. You can expect to pay around £170 if you take it while living in the UK, and around INR 13,700 if you’re living in India.

How long does it take to complete?

The PTE Academic test takes around 3 hours in total. You’ll need to complete all three parts on the same day, with a 10-minute break allocated.

How long does it take to get results?

The PTE Academic test has the quickest turnaround, as you’ll have your results within 48 hours.

How can you prepare for the test?

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