English language certificates

What English certificates are on offer?

The two main ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tests are The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and The Test of English as a Foreign Language or (TOEFL). Both offer an English language certificate upon completion, but check with your chosen university as to which it prefers.English language


There are two versions of the IELTS: Academic and General Training. As a student, you would need to apply for the Academic version.

What does the IELTS English certificate involve?

  • Paper-based test (PBT)

  • Must be taken on a specific date at a specific centre. There are 51 test centres in the UK and there are 48 test dates available each year

  • Scored from 1 (no knowledge) to 9 (expert user)

  • No minimum score is required to pass: each institution sets a different threshold, and the UK average is between 5.5 and 7

  • All candidates must complete four Modules - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The first three combined take 2 hours 45 minutes and must be completed in one sitting

  • The Speaking test may be taken in the period seven days before or after the other modules, at the discretion of the institution


The TOEFL is a test of an individual's ability to use and understand English in an academic setting.

What does the TOEFL English certificate involve?

  • Internet-based test (iBF)

  • Four hours long, made up of the same four sections - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

  • Scored on a scale of 0-120 points, with each section being valued between 0-30 points

  • As with IELTS, there is no official pass mark. Each institution will set a different threshold

  • Officially discounted after two years

Which English certificate should I take?

Each English test has pros and cons. The TOEFL is more internationally recognised though takes longer to complete, and the IELTS takes more effort to complete (finding a centre etc) but is a shorter test with a shorter Speaking section.

TOEFL is an American exam so is more geared towards those used to American English. If you prefer typing to handwriting, choose the TOEFL as the essays are typed. The TOEFL is almost exclusively multiple choice so if you prefer a wider range of question types chose IELTS. Most importantly, it will depend on the institution to which you hope you apply so make sure you check their individual application requirements.

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