Language tests that are necessary for immigration


Interest in language assessment for immigration started approximately two decades ago. The ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) reported that nearly all countries took language proficiency (often represented by the score or level of a test) as a requirement for immigration or citizenship, and it was specifically determined by the cut scores prescribed by immigration authorities. Hence, language proficiency has gradually become a salient issue in the discussion of immigration policy because it is regarded as a pre-entry requirement

This ensures that they have the necessary English skills to understand academic writing, produce scholarly writing, and communicate effectively with their supervisor. Here is an overview of most widely-accepted English proficiency tests.

The English language proficiency is normally provided by taking an English language test which assesses the applicant’s ability to read, listen, write, and speak English.

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic and General
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
  • CAE Cambridge Test: Certificate in Advanced English


An overview:

IELTS is a test of all four language skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You will take the Listening, Reading, and Writing tests all on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between. For the Speaking test, you can book a slot online on your preferred date and time. The IELTS test is offered in a general and academic version. For visa purposes, both tests are recognised, but in the context of skills assessments, for a number of professions the academic version of the IELTS is necessary. For university admittance, only the academic version is recognised.

IELTS is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests among candidates looking to migrate to native English-speaking countries like the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland. The test can be taken in more than 1,100 test centres worldwide and is offered throughout the year.


  • Preparation for IELTS is easier than preparation to the other exams. The reason behind that is the writing section is repeated, the interview section asks about general life topics. The main focus on the preparation should be in listening and reading. Search online about practice exams and you’ll find a lot.
  • Tests the skills and spoken academic English, giving a balanced assessment of the vocabulary in the areas in which a person most likely will have to face in an English-speaking environment.
  • Speaking test is done as friendly interview where you answer some general questions
  • Writing section has repeated topics and has fixed structure. This will allow you to practice the topics and get prepared very well in short time. Try to follow the structure of some model answers you find on the web.
  • In listening section, they give you 10 minutes to write down your answers in the answers sheet. This will give you a chance to correct and review the spellings of your answers.


  • IELTS is not accepted by some of the universities in the US. So you have to contact the universities you’re applying to so that you make sure that it’s accepted. They may not say that in their website, that’s why I advise you to contact them.
  • Is admitted by fewer schools;
  • Listening section is complicated, because you have to concentrate and know what the speaker is saying and what question he’s answering.
  • Requires more extensive training.
  • You have to write your answers, there are few Multiple Selection Questions (MSQs), so you should be good with words spellings.
  • IELTS uses the British accent, so you need to practice that before the exam. There’re serious differences between the American accent and the British accent.
  • Less testing centres around the world;
  • Reading section is really long, and their different kinds of questions and few MSQs.
  • In the reading section you’ll have to know the synonyms of a lot of words, because they won’t use the words in the essays directly.

PTE Academic:

An overview

The Pearson Language Test (PTE) – Academic is the test assesses a candidate’s English skills under four sections – Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

The PTE Academic is a fully computer-based test. In this version, the speaking sub-test is not taken by a human examiner. Instead, you speak into a microphone connected to the test computer, which will be assessed by a computer algorithm. Whether you prefer to talk to a computer anonymously or talk to a real person is a personal choice

It is suitable for students’ seeking admission in graduate programs in countries where English is the first language.

The PTE is accepted by Countries like, The UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The USA, Ireland, Germany, and Singapore.

The PTE Score Range varies between 10-90 points in each section. You can book test 48 hours in advance, attempt it innumerable times, and reschedule as needed. The exam Cost: INR 13,300. This test is offered in more than 250 test centres throughout the year.

PTE Pros:

  • Flexible booking date
  • Fast results
  • Hand writing doesn’t matter
  • No human intervention
  • Structural bases
  • Lower chance of losing mark

PTE cons:

  • Typing skill required
  • No backward button in reading test
  • No repeat in speaking skill
  • No answer review in listening section
  • Limited resources


An overview:

OET (Occupational English Test) is designed to meet the specific English language needs of the healthcare sector. It assesses the language proficiency of healthcare professionals who wish to practise in an English-speaking environment. All four language skills are assessed, with Writing and Speaking tests available in 12 different areas of healthcare. All candidates sit the same Reading and Listening tests.

OET is accepted as proof of English proficiency in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Namibia and Singapore for registration in 12 healthcare professions.

OET is owned by Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust (CBLA). It is a venture between Cambridge English and Box Hill Institute

The possible test score for the OET ranges from A to E. An A score represents the best possible result, whereas E means an insufficient English language level. Each test component is assigned its own rating.

These tests are conducted 12 times a year in around 100 test centres spread over 40 countries.

OET Pros:

  • OET Preparation Courses are Designed for Your Individual Needs
  • You Can Practise Using English in Real Workplace Scenarios
  • You Will Get Plenty of Exam Practice in OET Prep
  • OET Prep is Quite Similar to Other English Program
  • OET Preparation Classes are Easy to Fit into Your Schedule

OET cons:

  • Highly expensive (less accessible to applicants)
  • Fewer test locations
  • Fewer test dates

CAE Cambridge Test / C1 Advanced:

An overview:

The Cambridge C1 Certificate, formerly called Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), is a proof of proficiency in the English language according to the C1 competence level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEPR). The possible test result comprises language levels from B2 toC2.

A maximum of 210 points can be achieved, with at least 160 points required in order to pass. The test is offered on a computer and paper basis and lasts around four-hour.

For this test, 33 exam dates are available annually in 1,300 examination centres spread over 113 countries.

The test has four sections:

  1. Reading & Use of English – 90 minutes
  2. Writing – 2 tasks, 90 minutes
  3. Listening – 40 minutes, 30 questions
  4. Speaking – interview, with another candidate, 15 minutes


An overview:

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The TOEFL internet-Based Test (iBT) is also a widely used English language test aimed at the academic environment. The test is computer-based. Also, for the speaking sub-test, a text must be spoken via a microphone into the computer. This is recorded digitally and later assessed by several TOEFL examiners.

The TOEFL iBT test is an internationally recognized test that measures non-native English speakers’ abilities to use and understand English at the university level.

If you want to study at an English-speaking university or undertake a program taught in English, most universities and schools require non-native English speakers to present proof as part of their application that their English-language skills will be sufficient to successfully participate in the coursework.

The TOEFL iBT test is the most widely accepted test to prove academic English proficiency.

Each of the four test components can yield up to 30 points. The total overall score is a maximum of 120 points. The test duration is around 2.5 hours.
The TOEFL iBT has over 50 test dates per year at more than 4,500 test centres worldwide.

TOEFL iBT accepted by all universities in the U.S. About 10,000 universities in 130 countries accept TOEFL, including Canada, the UK, and Australia.

TOEFL iBT pros:

1. TOEFL is recognised by most universities in the world.

2. Booking the test is super easy

3. There’s a lot of free learning material

4. The test has a detailed scale of assessment

TOEFL iBT cons:

1. TOEFL Test places are filled really quickly

2. You need to be good with all skills (reading, writing, grammar, listening)

3. The exam takes longer than others to complete

4. If you don’t have good computer skills, the test will be a challenge

The following table gives an overview of the results required in the recognised language tests for the various visa classifications.

Language test
IELTS Listening 8 7 6 5 4.5 (average score)
Reading 8 7 6 5
Writing 8 7 6 5
Speaking 8 7 6 5
PTE Academic Listening 79 65 50 36 30 (average score)
Reading 79 65 50 36
Writing 79 65 50 36
Speaking 79 65 50 36
TOEFL iBT Listening 28 24 12 4 32 (average score)
Reading 29 24 13 4
Writing 30 27 21 14
Speaking 26 23 18 14
Cambridge English Advanced C1 Listening 200 185 169 154 147 (average score)
Reading 200 185 169 154
Writing 200 185 169 154
Speaking 200 185 169 154
OET Listening A B C D N/A
Reading A B C D
Writing A B C D
Speaking A B C D

Tips for preparing for an English language test:

  • Familiarise oneself with the structure, task types, and peculiarities of the chosen test. In addition, research in advance how the scoring is applied in the sub-tests and what standards are used. For example, in the speaking section of the PTE Academic, emphasis is placed on adhering to the given time rather than on the complexity of the grammar used, while the IELTS Academic calls for the use of advanced grammar to achieve higher test results.
  • Refer the relevant material: For all of the tests mentioned here, there is a multitude of textbooks and other learning materials available that provide sample exercises and test strategies.
  • In addition, there is a huge variety of resources on the Internet for the different tests. Indeed, the test providers themselves often provide examples online, and even offer practice tests for an initial assessment.
  • In addition, there are a number of specialised learning providers offering online courses. Some of these are free of charge.
  • YouTube is also a great resource when it comes to preparing for a language test, with a wealth of professionally produced videos covering different aspects of learning English in general, and specific tests.
  • Furthermore, there are platforms for taking lessons with professional English teachers via Skype. This option not only gives you the opportunity to prepare for the speaking component of an English language test, but many of these online teachers are specialised in preparing English language learners specifically for the above-mentioned tests.




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