4 English Proficiency Tests For Studying in New Zealand | Giving you a Step AHEAD across the Globe!
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4 English Proficiency Tests For Studying in New Zealand

English Language Test in New Zealand

02 May 4 English Proficiency Tests For Studying in New Zealand

Universities and other educational institutions in New Zealand will require you to take an English Language test if English is not your first language. There are a number of important reasons for this, and some of them are quite surprising. Mainly, though, your English proficiency level is a significant indicator of your success as a student.

According to research studies, students who do well in Academic English language exams are much more likely to perform well academically. In New Zealand, international courses are taught in English. So, your comprehension of the language goes a long way in getting the most out of your learning experience and successfully completing your degree.

Not to mention, English is one of the official languages of New Zealand. Thus, it is imperative that you know how to communicate effectively on a day-to-day basis. It is also a requirement in getting your Visa.

And so, one of the most important questions you need to answer as you prepare for your international education is: “Which English Exam should I take?”

Acceptable English Language Tests in New Zealand

There are various English language proficiency exams you can take. Today, we’ll focus on the 4 most popular: International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), and Cambridge English: First (FCE) for Schools.

These tests cover 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Here are some quick-fire facts about each test:

IELTS

 

1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

www.ielts.org
Length: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Scoring: 1-9 band scores (see IELTS scale definition)
Exam fee: Vary from country to country. Expect to pay around $200 USD.
Exam Format: Paper-based
Exam Results: You can get your printed certificate after 13 days
Retake Exam: On next available test date
Results Validity: up to 2 years after test date
What makes it different?

  • First launched in 1989, the IELTS test is jointly owned by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, British Council and IELTS Australia Ltd, a solely owned subsidiary of IDP Education Ltd (“IELTS Test Partners”).
  • It offers 2 modules: Academic (for those applying for higher education or professional registration) and General (for those applying for secondary education, work experience or training programmes).
  • As it is paper-based, you need to fill out printed forms during registration and use pencil for the rest of the tests.
  • For the speaking test, you will be conversing face-to-face with a native speaker. He or she will assess your speaking proficiency. This test can be taken on the same day or with 7 days before or after you take the other test sections.
  • For the listening test, you will encounter a variety of accents from English speaking countries (Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the USA, Canada, and Australia).
  • For the writing test, you will be asked to write down your essay.

 

TOEFL

2. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

www.ets.org/toefl
Length: 4 hours
Scoring: Total of 120 points (see TOEFL scale definition)
Exam fee: Vary from country to country. Expect to pay around $160 – $250 USD.
Exam Format: Computer-based or Paper-based
Exam Results: You can get the results online within 10 days. For the printed certificate, you’ll receive it in 4 to 6 weeks (outside the US) after it is mailed
Retake Exam: No more than once within a 12 day period
Results Validity: up to 2 years after test date
What makes it different?

  • First launched in 1964, the TOEFL testing program is jointly owned by Educational Testing Service, the College Board, and the Graduate Record Examinations Board in the United States.
  • The TOEFL iBT test is administered via the Internet, and the TOEFL PBT test is administered in a paper-delivered format.
  • It only offers Academic module and you can take the entire exam in one sitting.
  • It uses Standard American English. So, for the listening test, you will mainly encounter an American accent.
  • For the speaking test, you will speak into the microphone on your headset where your responses will be recorded and assessed by certified human raters.
  • For the writing test, you will be asked to type your essay.
  • As it is the TOEFL iBT computer-based, you will register, pay, and take the test online.

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PTE Academic

3. Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

http://pearsonpte.com/
Length: 3 hours
Scoring: Total of 90 points (see Pearson scale definition)
Exam fee: Vary from country to country. Expect to pay around $150-$210 USD.
Exam Format: Computer-based
Exam Results: You can see your results after 5 business days
Retake Exam: Anytime. However, you must wait until you have received your scores from one test before booking another
Results Validity: up to 2 years after test date
What makes it different?

  • First launched in 2009, PTE Academic is owned by the British-owned publishing house and educational institution, Pearson Education, and endorsed by the US-based Graduate Management Admission Council– the non-profit council of business schools that administers the GMAT exam.
  • In addition to PTE Academic, it also offers PTE General, PTE Young Learners, and Business English Tests.
  • PTE uses an automated scoring system that uses complex algorithms to evaluate your English proficiency. It completely eliminates human error, enables greater consistency, and faster results.
  • For the speaking test, you will be speaking into a microphone (like in the TOEFL). However, you will be assessed by a computer program.
  • For the listening test, you will hear a range of accents from both native and non-native English speakers.

Cambridge FCE

 

4. Cambridge English: First (FCE) for Schools

www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/first-for-schools/
Length:  3.5 hours
Scoring: Grade A, B, or C (see Cambridge English scale definition)
Exam fee: Vary from country to country. Expect to pay around $180 – $200 USD
Exam Format: Paper-based or computer-based
Exam Results: Your results will be released online after 2-3 weeks (for computer-based exams) or after 4-6 weeks (for paper-based exams)
Retake Exam: On next available test date
Results Validity: Forever
What makes it different?

  • Cambridge offers different kinds of exams for each level. For example, KET (A2 – elementary level), PET (B1 – pre-intermediate / intermediate level), FCE (B2 – upper-intermediate level), CAE (C1 – advanced level), CPE (C2 – proficiency level)
  • It is a globally accepted certificate, suitable for those of an upper-intermediate level and consists of testing real life English skills for work and study.
  • For the speaking test, you will be speaking face-to-face with a partner. The interaction with your partner is very important in the evaluation.
  • Unlike the previous tests, the results of your Cambridge English test is valid for life. This means it is a really great investment if you pass.
  • Although you will get to see your results online, you will only get a certificate if you pass (60%) the exam.

How to Choose an English Proficiency Exam

How to Choose an English Proficiency Exam

  1. Check the English Language requirement of the individual institution and/or specific programmes for which you are applying. It should indicate the acceptable English Proficiency Exam and the corresponding minimum score you should aim for.
  2. Even if you will find a lot of articles and personal stories about whether one exam is better than the other, the most important measurement to consider is your personal preference. Some questions you may want to ponder on:
    • How long do you want to spend taking the exam?
    • How much are you willing to spend on the test?
    • Are you more comfortable speaking to a person or speaking to a microphone?
    • Are you more comfortable listening to European, American, or non-native speakers’ accents?
    • Are you more comfortable writing or typing your essay?
    • How fast do you need the results?
    • How convenient is it for you to go to the test centres?

 

Final Thoughts

Whichever English Proficiency test you choose, it’s important to remember that preparation is key to success. Once you have decided on your language test, take the time to carefully study the test format, particularly the question types. A good way to start is to practice with sample tests.

It can be a fun experience to practice your listening skills by exposing yourself to different accents as you listen to foreign podcasts, watch foreign movies or news. Practice speaking English in front of a mirror or conversing with a friend, even try recording your voice on your phone to get the hang of it. And, of course, read, read, read. Read books (preferably nonfiction) and articles (preferably academic).

The more you expose yourself to the language, the better chance you will have at acing your test!

If you have any questions, message us on Facebook or tweet us @AheadIntlEduc.

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