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English proficiency tests: TOEFL and IELTS

There are a number of tests that one needs to sit for before applying to universities abroad for higher studies. These tests include English Proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS and standardized tests like SAT-I, SAT-II, GRE and GMAT. The tests you take depend on the country and the level you are applying to. Here, in this article, we take a peek preview of two most commonly taken English proficiency tests—TOEFL and IELTS. Amity EduMedia will publish articles on other standardized tests in its future editions.

TOEFL: This is required for almost all programs in the US. It is also acceptable along with Test of Written English (TWE), in place of IELTS in universities of Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

The TOEFL test measures English language proficiency in reading, listening and writing and is offered on computer in most regions of the world. In areas where access to computer-based testing is limited, a paper-and-pencil version of the test is administered. However, TOEFL test is administered only as a computer based test in India.

In India, TOEFL test is administered at nine centres around the country: Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Trivandrum.

Computer based TOEFL test is held all-round-the-year. Unlike other exams, you can choose your own date and time for taking the TOEFL test! The test is administered in the above cities five-days-a-week (Monday through Friday), twice-a-day. September to December is the high season for TOEFL test, so in case you intend to take the test during this period, you need to register very early (say 90 days in advance) to get a date of your choice. Otherwise, registering at least three days in advance is mandatory. The test lasts roughly four hours.

Anyone and everyone is eligible for taking the TOEFL test - there are no restrictions based on age or qualifications. The test scores are valid for two years, i.e., most universities accept scores up to two years old.

Test fees for TOEFL test may vary according to the country in which you take the test. In India, this fee is US $130, payable at the time of registration.  

IELTS: It is required for most universities in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

IELTS is an English Language Proficiency test that is required to be taken by non-native students for study in countries where the medium of instruction is English. Among the popular study destinations IELTS is accepted by universities in UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It has become a mandatory test for study in Australia.

You cannot be granted an Australian student visa without an IELTS score, TOEFL is not accepted.

All other study destinations either require you to take the TOEFL or IELTS. IELTS is however not accepted by most universities in USA, the TOEFL is required for study there.   

The test is conducted by the British Council. You can contact your local British Council officeto find out where your nearest test centre is located. Most centres normally have a testing session about once a month. You should contact the test centre to find out the date of the next test and collect the IELTS handbook and an application form. The filled application form should be sent back to the test centre with the test fee. You will be given a date and time of your test.

Test Reports have a validity of two years. You can retake the test if you do not achieve the desired score but not before three months of the first test date. IELTS registration fee is $ 280.

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