TOEFL, IELTS, and other exams: The English Proficiency Test for scholarships

If you are already checking for some scholarships or financial aid to support your studies, you might have noted that almost all the scholarships have a list of requirements that you have to fulfill to be eligible for such a scholarship. For example, the English Exams. Indeed, normally, the providers of scholarships will check, among other things, your academic background including your English level. In fact, proof of English proficiency is one requirement that (almost) nobody willing to study a program in English can escape from.

The English Proficiency exam has become the ‘monster’ that students are afraid of and that holds their dream to pursue studies abroad. However, the English exams are not difficult at all!!! In this post, we will tell you everything you should know about the English proficiency requirements, starting with what it is, the type of exams, and the process to overcome this obstacle to turn it into your strength.

What are the Proficiency English exams?

First thing first, what is the English exam? The universities and the scholarship providers need to make sure that your level of English is good enough to catch up with the program you want to study before getting accepted to the university or award you with a scholarship. For this reason, they will request you to take an English exam from one of the recognized institutions that provide this service, more commonly the TOEFL IBT Test or the IELTS Test, although some institutions also accept the Pearson Test of English Academic and the fairly new Duolingo English test. The score you need to get depends on the program, University, and scholarship you are applying to, you should check the requirements on their official website.

Do I need to take the English exams?

This basically depends on the program, scholarship, and university you are applying to. In general terms, we can tell you that for these application processes you will always have to prove your English Language Level. The most common and “easy” way to do it is through taking these English exams. However, put attention to the exceptions the universities very often include in the eligibility criteria regarding English proficiency. Two of the most common exceptions are:

  • If the applicant comes from an English-speaking country.
  • If the applicant’s previous studies were fully in the English Language.

Under these circumstances, you might be able to skip the English Exam since you are able to prove your English level in other ways. Again, this completely depends on the application requirements so make sure you follow them. However, don’t forget to keep this in mind.

TOEFL IBT Test

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language, while IBT means Internet-based Test. Therefore, the actual name of this English Test is a Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-based Test (TOEFL IBT). As explained before, it measures the English language ability of non-English Speakers willing to study in English speaking Universities. This test is accepted by many universities, academic and professional institutions. TOEFL is one of the two major English-language tests in the world, the other being the IELTS.

Structure of the Exam

The TOEFL IBT exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points. The exam has four main sections: reading, listening, speaking, and writing with a weight of 30 points each one (30 + 30 + 30 + 30 = 120). In all the sections your English grammar will be evaluated. You will take this exam on a computer in one of the authorized centers (you will know all the details of the location when you register for the exam, there are many options according to your city and country).

During the exam you will take reading and listening exams first, then you have 10 minutes break and you finish with speaking and writing. In total the exam takes 200 minutes. Each section has its own time limit in which you must complete all the questions. In general terms, acceptable TOEFL IBT scores range from 71 to 110. However, remember that this is for informational purposes only, you would have to check the specifically required score by the program and university you want to apply to.

Price

The cost of the TOEFL exam is close to USD 200 (Check official website). It is a bit pricey so make sure you are ready to take the exam before you register for it. If you don’t get the score you were expecting to you can always register and take the exam again, however, keep in mind that you will have to pay again too.

Also, you should know that it takes around two weeks to receive your score once you take the exam so be aware of the deadlines for your application process and make sure you don’t miss any. And finally, the score is valid for two years, meaning that once you take the exam you can use that score to fulfill the Language requirement for two years, after that the document that certifies your score will expire (it has a date on it) and universities won’t accept it anymore.

Additional Tip

One last tip! When you register for the TOEFL Exam you can include the address of the University you are applying to, and once you take the exam they deliver an official letter of your score to the University for free. Now, you might wonder what if my exam doesn’t go as expected? You won’t want the University to receive that bad score, right? Don’t worry, when you finish the exam they will ask you to confirm if you still want to submit your scores automatically, you can take the decision then.

We deeply recommend you check the official website for official information about the TOEFL exam. Here is the link: https://www.ets.org/toefl

Free TOEFL Practice Exam
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IELTS Test

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. Similarly to the TOEFL exam, IELTS tests how fluent you are in the English language. This exam is more popular for universities from Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. However, you should always check the requirements of the specific university and program you are applying to.

Structure of the Exam

The IELTS exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 9, or as the IELTS calls it a “nine-band scale” where each band represents your level and competence in the English Language. For example, if you score 3, you will be allocated in band 3 in which you will be called an “Extremely Limited User”; or if you reach band 7 you will be a “Good User”; Band 8 a “Very Good User” and so on. There is no pass or fail score.

The IELTS test has also four sections, listening, reading, writing, and speaking. In all the sections your English grammar will be evaluated. The listening part takes 40 minutes, the reading and writing 60 minutes each, and the speaking 15 minutes. The total time for this exam is 2 hours and 45 minutes. Now, here is one special condition about the IELTS exam that we believe is pretty advantageous, you can take the speaking exam on another day different from the one you take the exam for the first three sections, it is up to seven days before or after the other tests.

Another particularity of the IELTS tests is that the speaking section is a face-to-face interview with a native English speaker, while in the TOEFL exam the computer records your answers. The other three sections are taken on the computer in one of the authorized centers (you will know all the details of the location when you register for the exam, there are many options according to your city and country). In general terms, acceptable IELTS scores range from 6 to 8. However, remember that this is for informational purposes only, you would have to check the specifically required score by the program and university you want to apply to.

Price

The cost of the IELTS test is a bit higher than the TOEFL Test, it is between USD 215 to USD 250. (Check official website). In the same way, make sure you are ready to take the exam when you register for it. Otherwise, if you don’t get the required score for the scholarship you are applying to, you will have to take the exam again and of course, pay for it again. Once you take the exam it takes around one week to receive the final score. This score will be valid for two years as well.

We deeply recommend you check the official website for official information about the IELTS exam. Here is the link: https://www.ielts.org/

Free IELTS Practice Exam

What is the relation between TOEFL IBT and IELTS English exams scores?

In the table below we show you a comparison between the scores of TOEFL IBT and IELTS. Now, remember that this is only informational and it does not represent official information. Therefore, if the scholarship you want to apply for accepts either TOEFL and IELTS, make sure you check the required score for each type of exam.

IELTS Score TOEFL Score
9.0 118-120
8.5 115-117
8.0 110-114
7.5 102-109
7.0 94-101
6.5 79-93
6.0 60-78
5.5 46-59
5.0 35-45
4.5 32-34
0.0 – 4.0 0-31

Good Luck with your English Exams!

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