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Alternative English Tests for immigration to Australia do make a difference! Updated 19 May 2016

If you are a non-native English speaker who wants to migrate to Australia, for certain visas you and your family members over 18 years of age must provide evidence of English ability. People who hold certain passports are exempt from the minimum English requirements in most circumstances.  They may choose to take an English test to gain more points for the points-tested visas.

Currently, the  Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) accepts English language test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT), the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) and the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test. This news came as a big relief for applicants who struggled to achieve 7 or 8 each band on General or Academic IELTS in a single sitting.

So how do you decide which test to take? Some people choose based on price, availability, how fast they received the scores or how difficult it is.

IT TOTALLY DEPENDS ON YOU. However, our clients report that they found TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic and CAE simpler and easier than IELTS.

Here are the characteristics of the tests which you should take into consideration before deciding whether to take the

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS),
  • Occupational English Test (OET),
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT),
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) or the
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test

for your Australian visa application.

International English Language Test System (IELTS)

IELTS is a paper-based test offered in more than 140 countries. Tests are held on Saturdays and Thursdays. There are two modules to choose from – Academic and General Training.

Availablity: around 50 times a year in over 1,000 test centres and locations across the world

How much does it cost?

$330 in Australia (for fees in your country contact the nearest test centre)

How long does it take to complete?

The test takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete and is structured as follows:

Test FormatDescriptionTest Time
Writing2 tasks: 150 words & 250 words60 minutes
Reading3 sections60 minutes
Listening40 minutes
Speaking11-14 minutes

 

How is the test taken and scored?

The Listening, Reading and Writing components are assessed all on the same day with no breaks in between them. The Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day or within the next seven days before or after.

The IELTS test is graded using scores from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert user) for each part of the test:  Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The results from the four parts then produce an overall Band Score.

Test centres post the Test Report Form to you 13 days after the test.

Find out more about IELTS:

 

Occupational English Test (OET)

OET is a paper-based international English language test that assesses the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practise in an English-speaking environment.

OET tests international health practitioners in the following 12 professions:

  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacy
  • Dietetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medicine
  • Podiatry
  • Nursing
  • Radiography
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Pathology
  • Optometry
  • Veterinary Science

Please check if this test is accepted as evidence of English in your nominated occupation.

Availablity: up to 10 times a year

How much does it cost?

$587 in Australia (for fees in your country contact the nearest test centre) to sit all four OET sub-tests

$200.50 to sit one OET sub-test

$339.00 to sit two OET sub-tests

$477.50 to sit three OET sub-tests

How long does it take to complete?

The test takes approximately 3 hours to complete and is structured as follows:

Test FormatTime
Listeningapproximately 50 minutes
Readingapproximately 60 minutes
Writing60 minutes
Speakingapproximately 45 minutes

The Writing and Speaking sub-tests are specific to the 12 individual healthcare professions, the tests reflect common tasks performed in the workplace.The Listening and Reading sub-tests are designed to assess your ability to understand the spoken and written English, based on health-related topics and tasks common to all professions.

How is the test taken and scored?

The OET assesses of all four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The main difference between the OET and the other tests is the emphasis on communication in healthcare professional settings. The Writing and Speaking sub-tests are specific to the 12 individual healthcare professions. The four language skills are graded from A (highest) to E (lowest) – there is no overall grade for OET.

Results are made available on your online profile on the OET website approximately 15 business days after the test. The official hard copy Statements of Results are posted following the publication of the results online.

What an experienced lecturer is saying about OET?

 

Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)

TOEFL iBT is an Internet-based English test that measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. 

Availablity: around 50 times a year in over 1,000 test centres and locations across the world

How much does it cost?

US$300 or equivalent in local currency

How long does it take to complete?

The test takes approximately 4.5 hours to complete and is structured as follows:

Test FormatDescriptionTest Time
Reading36-70 questions60-100 minutes
Listening34 - 51 questions60-90 minutes
Break10 minutes
Speaking6 tasks60-100 minutes
Writing2 tasks50 minutes

How is the test taken and scored?

The TOEFL iBT test provides scores in 4 skill areas; Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing and are scored from 0-30. You also receive a total score which is the sum of the 4 skill sub-scores.

Your test scores can be viewed online approximately 10 days after the test date.  For tests taken after 1 January, 2015, you will also have access to a downloadable PDF copy of your test taker score report. Official score reports are sent out approximately 14 days after you take the test. It is highly recommended that you take the test 2 to 3 months before your earliest application or other deadline.

Want to know the differences between the IELTS and TOEFL IBT?

 

Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

PTE Academic is a computer-based test of English for study abroad and immigration.

Availablity: around 50 times a year in over 50 countries worldwide

How much does it cost?

$330 in Australia (for fees in your country contact the nearest test centre)

Availablity: around 50 times a year in over 1,000 test centres and locations across the world

How long does it take to complete?

The test takes approximately 3 hours to complete and is structured as follows:

Test FormatDescriptionTest Time
Speaking & WritingMultiple tasks77-93 minutes
ReadingMultiple tasks32-41 minutes
Break10 minutes
ListeningMultiple tasks45-57 minutes

 

How is the test taken and scored?

The score is based on performance on all items in the test. The range for the initial and overall scores is 10-90 points.

Your test scores can be accessed via your online account. You will receive an email notifying you once your scores are available, normally within 5 business days. You can send your score report to as many institutions as you like, free of charge, through your online account.

Students describe their experience after taking PTE:

 

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English)

CAE is a thorough test of all areas of language ability. The exam can be taken as a paper-based or computer-based test.

How much does it cost?

$265 in Australia (for fees in your country contact the nearest test centre)

Availablity: around 50 times a year in over 1,400 exam centres in 117 countries.

How long does it take to complete?

The test takes approximately 4 hours 40 minutes to complete and is structured as follows:

Test FormatDescriptionTest Time
Reading4 parts: 34 questions75 minutes
Writing2 parts90 minutes
Use of English5 parts: 50 questions60 minutes
Listening4 parts: 30 questions40 minutes
Speaking4 parts15 minutes

How is the test taken?

You will receive a separate score for each of the five skills (reading, use of English, writing, listening and speaking). These five scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam.

All candidates receive a Statement of Results, and if you are successful in the exam you will also receive a Certificate. Your exam results will be available in two weeks or four weeks if you take the paper-based test. Organisations can verify your results online instantly.

Detailed guide to CAE and comparison with IELTS:

 

CONCLUSION

So how do you decide which test to take?

We suggest you to try the sample tests for the exams. Then you decide which one will be easier for you.

The information above covers the key characteristics of the English tests accepted across the Temporary Graduate, Skilled, Former Resident, and Work and Holiday visa programmes. It is still important that you check the English requirements of your relevant skills assessment or registration body as the English tests and scores they accept may differ from the DIBP requirements.

Applying for migration to Australia can be complex. We can assist you in developing a comprehensive immigration plan that will cover every aspect of your immigration. Book a consultation with our migration agent to check your eligibility for immigration to Australia before you proceed with an application.

 

 

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