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There are a large number of English exams available and the majority of these are taken by people aiming to get into university. Here is a rundown of the major exams available.

  • IELTs
    This exam is ideal for those seeking places in universities in England, Australia and New Zealand.
  • TOEFL®
    This exam is for students who wish to study in the US and Canada.
  • Cambridge Main Suite
    This suite of exams is designed for to cover a wide-range of age ranges and abilities.

Most universities will not require you to sit an English exam if you have taken English GCSEs, A-levels or SATs.

Exam suites compared

IELTS Cambridge
EU Framework
0 - 250 0 - 30 0 - 8 0 - 1   0-19 A1 (Breakthrough)
33 - 60 9 - 18 1 - 1.5  
255 - 400 63 - 90 19 - 29 2 - 2.5  
93 - 120 30 - 40 3 - 3.5 KET 20-39 A2 (Waystage)
405 - 600 123 - 150 41 - 52 4 PET 40-59 B1 (Threshold)
153 - 180 53 - 64 4.5 - 5  
605 - 780 183 - 210 65 - 78 5.5 - 6 FCE 60-74 B2 (Vantage)
213 - 240 79 - 95 6.5 - 7 CAE 75-89 C1 (Effective proficiency)
785 - 900 243 - 270 96 - 110 7.5 - 8 CPE 90-100 C2 (Mastery)
905 - 990 273 - 300 111 - 120 8.5 - 9    

Which is easier?

  • TOEIC is the easiest, because it doesn't test as many elements in English language.
  • If you are strong at speaking then IELTs is a good bet.
  • The TOEFL® ibt is much harder to beat with exam preparation courses than previous editions of the test, however if you learn academic specific vocabulary it is still easier than the Cambridge Advanced examination.
  • The Cambridge suite-exams require a good all-round knowledge of English and are harder to beat with exam oriented lessons.

Which is the most widely recognised?

  • TOEIC is only really recognised in Japan and South Korea
  • TOEFL® is excellent for American universities
  • IELTs should be your choice for British, Australian and New Zealand universities
  • The Cambridge suite are recognised by most British universities and a number of other establishments around the world. The Cambridge suite does NOT have an expiry date, so you can use a Cambridge pass for life.

What about BULATs and the European Framework?

  • BULATs is a commercial exam, which companies use to measure the English of their employees
  • The common EU framework is designed to provide a standard across European languages and is being used by a number of organisations to standardise their testing.

Other Exams

This exam is for employers in S.Korea and Japan.

MUET is a Malaysian examination used in local universities and is often demanded for students to graduate or enter university.

Resources on this Website

The resources below are for general revision. Resources for individual exams can be found in their exam pages.

  • Exam Feedback Handout (40KB PDF)
    A quick way to give exam feedback that ensures students look at more than just their marks. This could be done via self, peer or teacher to student feedback sessions.

  • Diamond 9 Revision resource (110KB PDF)
    This resource helps students to think about the importance of revision and how they might want to revise. It is also a useful Thinking and Speaking exercise.

  • Revision Techniques Pack (696KB PDF)
    This pack includes six of the best revision techniques, exercises, a handout for students and Teacher's Notes.

  • Revision Starter Exercise (244KB PDF)
    A starter exercise to encourage students to think about the benefits of revision.





Official Website for TOEIC

Official site for BULATs

ALTE framework
This makes the Common EU framework much more understandable.

Council of Europe Website
This has the full text of Common EU framework.