Choosing between all these tests and certificates

We hope that all the details we gave you about these certificates and standardized tests helped you understand them better and will help you make a choice. There are so many parameters to take into account before taking your decision. Do I want a real certificate or a standardized test? what level do I need?  TOEIC or IELTS or Cambridge?

You can find below a chart of comparison between the different tests based on levels.

If you had to compare the ETS tests to the Cambridge tests  we might add that the Cambridge are better suited if you are planning to join a British school and The ETS ones if you are going to the US. Although it is not definitive. You can indeed study with a TOEFL in the UK and about everywhere. Conversely your IELTS or CAE will be recognized about everywhere. In the end it is just about what certificate or test the school you have set your mind upon will accept.


TOEFL / IELTS / CECR Levels comparison chart

English certificates comparison chart

More certificates and tests we did not mention :

The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE academic) by  by Pearson Language Tests is an Australian test  to assess non-native English speakers’ readiness to follow university-level studies. It is recognized in the UK, the US and many other countries like France, Spain, China, Italy Malaysia… in prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, business schools like London business school, HEC and also a number of art and music schools.

Test scores range from 10 to 90, using the GSE (Global Scale of English) .

ECL English language test by the  ECL – European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages.

The ECL provides a standardised test system customised to the languages of the EU member states. The test system is based on the recommendations of the CEFR.

The ECL language exam can be taken on four levels based on CEFR levels:

  • A2 – Waystage
  • B1 – Threshold
  • B2 – Vantage
  • C1 – Effective Operational Proficiency

The exam consists of four parts: oral communication, listening, written communication and reading comprehension. The test does not grammar tests and translation tasks.

The exam can be taken in 15 languages.

Other european test systems are available in multiple languages like the TELC managed by a German organisation and the DCL run by the French ministry of National Education

Let’s mention the GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test before we finish. It is a test in English language partially managed by Pearson that can but the test assesses more than just English proficiency.

Indeed it measures several skills considered essential for students who pursuing admission in a graduate management program, such as an MBA so it assesses certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for that purpose. We have included this one to be complete but this one is borderline. It is a language test but not entirely a language test.

Talking about completeness, there are more than 50 different English language tests on the market and we did not include every one of them. Chance is you can take one of those we mention near your place because we have tackled the most renowned tests and certificates in the world today. They are recognized for their quality and so you know what you are getting and chances will be greater than your school recognizes it.  Whatever your decision regarding which examination you should take, we have to insist that it is better to contact the school first and read their requirements for admission. They usually list a batch of tests or certificates they accept for admission and we obviously advise you choose one of them. If you think we have missed a major actor on the market or you have in mind one you would like us to mention, please leave a comment below.