English Proficiency Test Guide

English Proficiency Test Guide

What Is English Proficiency Test?

English proficiency tests are standardized assessments taken to assess the language skills of a person. These tests are commonly used by employers, universities, or organizations who recruit students with strong English proficiency.

Types Of English Proficiency Tests


IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is the most widely recognized English proficiency test for non-English speakers. There are over 3400 institutions in the United States alone that accept this test and cost you around USD 250 on average to take the test. In addition, many private, professional companies and governmental organizations also keep IELTS in their joining criteria compared to other proficiency tests. 


TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. This test assesses a person’s ability to understand English which includes speaking, reading, and writing skills, and costs around USD 185. What makes this test stand out is that you will have to come across formal academic language and a high level of vocabulary rather than casual and conversational English while attempting this test.  


TOEIC stands for Test of English for International Communication which measures the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment. The TOEIC gives you certificates in 5 colours representing scores on a scale of 0 to 990. The cost for attempting this test is around USD 85 and it is widely accepted by many organizations.  

4. Duolingo

Duolingo is the most convenient and inexpensive English proficiency test that you can take. This test includes various sections including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It is managed by an application Duolingo which you can download from any play store for free. This test will cost you ₹3999 and you will be scored on a scale of 10 to 160. 

5. PTE

PTE stands for Pearson English Language Test which is a computer-based proficiency test that measures your skills like listening, reading, speaking, and writing. It is accepted in more than 70 countries and scoring is done between 10 – 90, 10 being the lowest. A PTE score of 80+ is considered a very good score and it costs around USD 275 to attempt this test. 

6. CPE

CPE is Cambridge English Proficiency (also known as C2 Proficiency) is a Cambridge English qualification test. It is also considered as the highest level of competency which makes it the hardest to crack among the list. Passing grade starts from A to C, the lowest being C1. To attempt this test, you will require USD 150 – 250 depending upon which country you are taking it in.  


The CELPIP Test is a standardized English language proficiency test mostly used for immigration, citizenship, and professional designation in Canada. It evaluates test takers’ listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills in English. The test is officially designated for permanent residence applications by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is also accepted for professional designations. 

8. KET

It is a Cambridge English A2 key test that judges the basic understanding of English of a person. It stands for Key English Test and it is one of the easiest Cambridge qualifications. You are graded in different grades such as A (B1), B (A2), C (A2), and Level A1. The cost of this exam is around € 120. 

9. PET 

The Cambridge Preliminary English test is designed for students who use English as a second language. The level of difficulty of this test is intermediate. Test takers are given 4 different papers and they are scored on different ranges for each grade. The Cambridge PET exam is widely recognized and provides a valuable qualification for individuals who want to demonstrate their English language proficiency at an intermediate level. 

10. FCE

The First Certificate Exam (FCE) is a widely popular general English exam for students seeking a credential indicating an upper-intermediate level of English. The FCE exam is aimed at B2 level learners, which corresponds to a low intermediate level of English. The cost of taking this test is €160. 

11. CAE

CAE C1 is a well-known proficiency test that was more famous before CAE. Over 9000 educational institutions still prefer this test and it is also accepted by many prestigious companies like Coca-Cola, Siemens, KPMG, and more. You will be scored in a range of 160 to 200 in which above 180 is considered a high score. It will cost you around EUR 150. 

How To Select The Right English Proficiency Test? 

Choosing the right proficiency test for you can be challenging as there are many options. Some tips which will help you select the right test are:

1. Your Aim

Determine why you want to take the English proficiency test. Whether it is for professional or educational purposes. 

2. Research Different Tests 

Try to read about all the tests from their official sites to gauge exactly where you can use that test and how much it will cost you. 

3. Take Practice Tests 

Consider your level of preparation before you apply for any test. Many of the proficiency tests offer practice tests online. Attempt them and get familiar with the level of difficulty as it will help you understand your scope for improvement. 

4. Consider Your Level Of English 

There is no point in attempting an exam for which you are not ready. Some tests are designed for a specific level of proficiency. For example, FCE is aimed at the intermediate level while TOEFL is designed for the advanced level. Always consider your level of English when choosing a test.  

5. Consult With An Advisor 

If you are confused about which test to take, take professional consultation. They can provide you with insights as to which is best suited for your needs. They will also help you prepare for the test and application process. 

There’s no doubt that ultimately the decision is yours. However, it is research and practice exams that help you make smart decisions and feel confident in your abilities.  

Online Vs Offline English Proficiency Test? 

There are two modes of examination when it comes to English proficiency tests. The online mode is quickly gaining popularity as it is convenient and easily accessible. Here are details on some of the most common proficiency tests:


Mode of Examination: Both online and offline

Exam Fees: Ranges between (INR 18186- INR 18928) for offline and INR 15,300 for online.


Mode of Examination: Both online and offline

Exam Fees: Ranges between ₹15,000-16,000 depending on online or offline.


Mode of Examination: Online

Exam Fees: INR 4000 (approx)

In conclusion, both online and offline modes of examination have their advantages and disadvantages. Candidates can choose the mode of examination that suits their needs and preferences. 

How To Crack English Proficiency Tests?

Cracking any English proficiency test requires dedication, preparation, and strategy. While dedication and preparation are in your hand, we will tell you a strategy that you can use to crack any English proficiency exam. 

1. Practice Tests 

When you apply for any proficiency test, you will need to take multiple practice tests to ace it. Attempt those to get familiar with the pattern and difficulty level of the test. Always practice tests with a time limit as it will help you to be less anxious during the actual test. The more model tests you solve, the better understanding it will create for you concerning the standard of the exam. 

2. Build Up Your Vocabulary 

Gaining a strong hold on your vocabulary will help you get a much higher score. Using distinct words while you speak or write can help you stand out from others. 

3. Watch English Content

Watching English movies can help you train your listening and speaking skills while also getting a hang of different accents. 

4. Research About The Test 

Before attempting any test, research about it from their official site. understand the number of sections and several questions that will be there. 

5. Practise With Friends And Family 

Practising with your friends can help you improve your speaking and listening skills. You can also practise having a conversation, asking and answering questions, and discussing different topics. 

6. Get Your Basics Clear 

Pay attention to apostrophes, the use of commas, and prepositional phrases. Practice reading comprehension by reading different newspapers, magazines, and academic articles. 

7. Make A Study Schedule 

Creating a schedule will help you avoid wastage of time. Allocate time for each section and try to allocate more time to sections that are hard for you to gauge. Track your progress and try to identify areas of improvement. In case you are struggling to improve, consult with a professional. 

With this strategy, you can also crack IELTS in 30 days.

Is English Proficiency Test Difficult? 

There are hundreds of proficiency tests available for students and professionals but not all of them are difficult to crack. While some of them require a good working level of proficiency to qualify, some can be passed with minimal effort.

A few of the hardest-to-crack proficiency tests are IELTS, TOEFL, and The UN Language Competitive examination. Even the Pearson Test of English is also considered difficult. To pass these exams, you need excellent comprehension along with accuracy in marking the right answers. The evaluation and scoring systems of these tests are also rigorous, making them challenging for new learners. 

However, the difficulty is relative to preparation and dedication. Test takers can put in hours of hard work and pass these exams even though they are new to the English language. Many people find that their performance greatly improves when they take prep courses, practice tests, and spend a lot of time in settings where English is spoken. 

One of the easiest tests to attempt is the Cambridge preliminary English test. It is for those who have English as their second language and so it is easier comparatively. These tests cover a range of levels (CEFR levels A2 to C2) and the results for them can be used for a lifetime. Another one you can attempt is the Duolingo test. 

In the Duolingo English test, you will be graded out of 160  which will be an average from 4 different sections. The minimum score to pass is just 10 but different universities and institutions set their acceptable range of scores. To attempt the Duolingo test, you will be required to pay a fee of $49. 

When Should You Take English Proficiency Tests?

English proficiency tests are required when you need to showcase your level of English for any academic, professional, or personal reasons. 

For instance, if you want to move abroad to an English-speaking country to study or pursue your career, you will most likely need to pass an English proficiency test. The kind of test that you will need to take depends on the test accepted by your university or the organization you want to work for. 

Additionally, you may also need to take this test when you apply for a visa or scholarship for an English-speaking country. 

The best time to take an English proficiency test depends on your preparation and when you plan to apply for your university or organization. For the institutions requiring a proficiency test, you will need to take the test during the application process and submit your score to get accepted. 

There are some cases when English proficiency tests are exempted. This can happen if:

  • English is your native language 
  • You completed your education in a native English-speaking country 
  • Your high school’s primary language of instruction was English 

How Long Are The Test Results Valid?

Here is the validity period of various proficiency tests – 

IELTS – The validity period of IELTS test scores is 2 years from the date of the test. 

TOEFL – The validity period of TOEFL test results is 2 years from the date of the test. 

Duolingo – For Duolingo, the validity for the test results is the same as the IELTS and TOEFL i.e., 2 years. 

PTE – The validity period of PTE is also 2 years. 

It’s important to remember that the length of time these tests are valid can change based on the institution or group that needs the results. 

IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo, and PTE test scores are only valid for two years. This is done for several reasons. First, language skills can change over time, which makes sure that results are up-to-date. Second, it meets the language standards of institutions. Lastly, it makes sure that the results are reliable and steady over time.

What If You Fail English Proficiency Test? (5 Important Steps) 

These are the few things that you’d need to do if you fail to ace an English proficiency test:

1. Take Help From Professional Trainers

If you are having trouble learning English on your own, then the best way to improve is by taking some professional help. A professional trainer will not only help you improve your English skill but will also help boost your confidence for the tests. 

Along with helping you enhance your English skills, these professional trainers will help you understand the test format better, and how you can get maximum scores with your abilities. 

2. Analyse Your Score

If you fail an English proficiency test, analysing your score is the first and most crucial step that you should take to figure out what went wrong. Analysing your scores means reviewing every aspect of the test and finding out the areas where you struggled the most and how you can improve.

You should now analyse your overall score and see how short you were from the passing marks. This becomes important if you fail because of a couple of points. It will help figure out the section which gave you a hard time and how you can work on them for the next time. 

3. Focus On Weaker Sections

You should check the sections where you passed and where you failed, this will help you pinpoint the areas where you need to work on and improve for the next tests. 

Once you are done analysing your score, you will know about your weak areas in the text. Now the best approach will be to focus on these sections and see how you can improve to score better marks. When you spend time reviewing and practising your weak sections, you will be more confident and prepared for the next time. 

4. Solve Practice Tests

One of the best ways to score better in exams is to solve practice tests. The more you solve these mock tests, the more you will learn about the format and understand how you need to answer questions to get the best scores. 

Solving practice tests will also give you more confidence in taking the real test and thereby, help you perform better. 

5. Retake The Test

Now that you are well prepared, working on your weak sections, solving practice tests, and improving your skills, it’s time to retake the test. 

Before you go for the re-test, you should confirm with your university or organization if they will accept your retest results. After getting the confirmation, you should book the tests as soon as possible, and give the exams with much more preparation this time. 

English Proficiency Test Alternatives

MOI Certificate

A medium of instruction certificate (MOI) is an official document provided by your school or college which states the language in which you completed your degree education. This certificate is commonly used as an alternative to English proficiency test.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take English proficiency test online?

Yes, you can take English proficiency tests online. There are several online English proficiency tests available, including the iTEP, TOEFL, Duolingo English Test, EF SET, Cambridge English Qualifications, and more. 

How can I prove my English proficiency without IELTS?

There are several ways to prove your English proficiency without taking IELTS. You can take other exams like TOEFL, Duolingo English test, PTE and more. You can refer to our detailed guide to understand more about different tests. 

Is there any free English proficiency test?

TrackTest. This online test of English skills can be taken for free. The scores of the test will match the CEFR levels A1 to C2, and you can take the test again every month to see how much you’ve improved.

Which English proficiency test is the highest level?

C2 Proficiency, formerly known as Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE), is the highest-level qualification offered by Cambridge English. It demonstrates that you are a highly competent speaker of English and have mastered the language to an exceptional level.