Which English Certificate Test is Right for you?


How good is your English?

Maybe the main reason you are taking an English test is that you simply want to know where you stand, or what you have achieved after years of working on your English skills.  However, there are other reasons to take an English certificate exam.  Perhaps you want to emigrate to another country, or you want to study at a specific university, or you might want to improve your job prospects.  With so many different goals to having an English certificate, you should have a look at which test best suits your needs.  There are quite a few to choose from: TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, Cambridge (FCE, CAE, CPE, BEC).

Where are they from?

TOEFL and TOEIC are produced in the USA and are generally most widely accepted there.  TOEFL is geared towards educational institutions, while TOEIC is more business oriented.

IELTS and Cambridge exams are produced in the UK and are most widely accepted in the UK and the EU. 


Having a good score on your English exam can be a requirement or an advantage when immigrating to English speaking countries.  Each country has their own specifications for accepted tests and required scores.  If you need English certification for immigration into the Canada, or the UK, IELTS is preferred.  If you are immigrating to Australia, or New Zealand, IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge are accepted.  As requirements are subject to change, you should consult the country’s immigration website for up to date information.   

University Entrance

If you would like to study at a university in an English speaking country, or an English language program in other countries, an English certificate is usually required.  American and Canadian universities usually require TOEFL, whereas non American universities can require any of the above mentioned exams.  The best route is to check the website of the specific university and program you wish to enrol in.

Your CV

If you are looking to improve your chances of landing your dream job at an international company, then having a well-known English certificate listed in your CV is much more impressive than simply stating “English speaking skills”.  All the certificates listed here are widely known, respected, and accepted, however, you should consider that TOEIC has a more business orientation, while the Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC) focuses on business skills and language.

A goal post

You might honestly want to take a test for “fun”.  It could be a simple way to challenge yourself, or to motivate yourself to study more seriously.  For some people, having a set date, a financial cost, a definite score, the threat of shame, or the allure of bragging rights can be the magic alchemy that spurs them on to dedicate themselves to their studies.

Final Thoughts

All these tests are of excellent quality and reputation.  The best test for you is the one that is required by the organisation, country, or goal that you have in mind.  As all tests are designed to give an accurate assessment of your English skills, generally speaking, you should get a relatively similar score on all of the tests. 

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