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Let’s examine your English

Each institution sets its language requirements that vary depending on the chosen course, the country you plan to study in and how long you hope to study there

education Updated: Nov 09, 2011 14:50 IST
Natalie Clark

If you are a non-native speaker applying to study on an English-taught course, you may need to prove your level of English to your chosen university or college.

Each university or college will set its own English language requirements, which will vary depending on the course that you wish to take, the country you plan to study in and how long you hope to study there.

In addition, if you are planning to study in the United Kingdom, all students applying through Tier 4 are now required to demonstrate English proficiency at B1 or B2 on the Common European Framework, depending on the course level. Students applying for courses below NQF Level 6 and all students applying to private institutions will also need to provide evidence of language proficiency through a secure English language test. In addition to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), students now have the option of taking PTE Academic, a new widely accepted English test also approved by the UK Border Agency for student visa applications.

English exams can either be administered online like TOEFL internet-based test or PTE Academic or administered face to face through a test such as the IELTS. The format of the test varies depending on the test you choose to take. Each test comprises various sections to test different aspects, such as written, listening and reading comprehension. Typically a university or college and the UK Border Agency will require you to demonstrate a score in the four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking.

To help improve your grade and achieve the best score possible, you will need to prepare comprehensively and take advantage of the wide range of test preparation resources provided by test providers. Official preparation materials can include test tutorials providing an overview of the exam and guidance on how to navigate through it, official guides to help you to understand the features of the test and provide test-taking tips and practice tests. Scored practice tests are usually exact replicas of the real test and are a great opportunity to practise. You may also choose to improve your score by preparing with a test preparation provider.

Registration processes and requirements differ for each test. Remember that you may need to book ahead to obtain your visa and meet admission deadlines. Ultimately, you should choose a test that best suits your requirements.

When choosing a test you should consider:
* who accepts the test and what the requirements are for visa applications to countries such as the UK
* how long it takes to receive your test scores
* the format and content of the different tests
* how often test sessions are held
* the locations of test centres in India
* the length of time for which each test score is valid

For the most up-to-date information on each test visit:
www.pearsonpte.com/testme
www.ets.org/toefl
www.ielts.org

The author is head of marketing, Pearson Language Tests