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English testing

English skills requirements

English Language
proficiency level
Test component IELTS TOEFL
iBT
PTE
Academic
Cambridge English:
Advanced (CAE)*
OET
Functional Average/total/overall across test components only 4.5 32 30 147 n/a
Vocational Listening 5.0 4 36 154 B
Reading 5.0 4 36 154 B
Writing 5.0 14 36 154 B
Spea​king 5.0 14 36 154 B
Competent Listening 6.0 12 50 169 B
Reading 6.0 13 50 169 B
Writing 6.0 21 50 169 B
Speaking 6.0 18 50 169 B
Proficient
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 7.0 24 65 185 B
Reading 7.0 24 65 185 B
Writing 7.0 27 65 185 B
Speaking 7.0 23 65 185 B
Superior
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 8.0 28 79 200 A
Reading 8.0 29 79 200 A
Writing 8.0 30 79 200 A
Speaking 8.0 26 79 200 A

TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL iBT is taken via the internet. There are more than 50 test dates each year, and there is a wide range of test locations throughout the world.

The test takes approximately 4.5 hours to complete has the following structure:

  1. Reading: 60-80 Minutes
  2. Listening: 120-180 Minutes
  3. Speaking: 20 Minutes
  4. Writing: 50 Minutes

TOEFL scores are available approximately 10 days after the test date. They can be viewed online, and a hard copy is sent approximately 13 days after the test date. You can specify recipients for your scores to be sent to via an online facility, but this cannot be changed after you have taken the test.

The current cost to undertake the TOEFL iBT in Australia is $240, well under the current cost of IELTS ($330).

PTE Academic

The Pearson Test of English Academic is structured as follows:

  1. Speaking and writing: 77 – 93 minutes
  2. Reading: 32 – 41 minutes
  3. Listening: 45 – 57 minutes

Overall, the test takes 3 hours. Results are available within 5 working days, and can be accessed by logging into an online account. It is possible to forward results to institutions via the online account also. This compares favourably with IELTS – results currently take 2 weeks to become available, and there is no online account facility for test takers.

The cost to do the PTE Academic test in Australia is $330 – exactly the same as IELTS. Locations and test dates are less extensive than the TOEFL.

 

English Levels

Various Levels of English are Relevant for visa purposes:

  1. Functional English

This is the level required for applicants for permanent and provisional skilled visas who wish to avoid paying the English Language Charge (currently $4,850.00).

Required Scores to establish Functional English are as follows:

Test component Average across test components only
IELTS 4.5
TOEFL iBT 32
PTE Academic 30
OET n/a
  1. Vocational English

Vocational English is the required level to obtain a 457 visa, and also ENS and RSMS visa through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream for people who have held a 457 visa for 2 years with the employer.

Required scores to establish Vocational English are as follows:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 5 5 5 5
TOEFL iBT 4 4 14 14
PTE Academic 36 36 36 36
OET B B B B
  1. Competent English

Competent English is the minimum (threshold) score for people applying for General Skilled Migration. It is also the score required for people applying for ENS and RSMS visas through the Direct Entry Stream.

Scores required to show Competent English are as follows:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL iBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50
OET B B B B
  1. Proficient English

Proficient English applies only to Points Tested General Skilled visas, and is the required score to obtain 10 points for English.

Scores required for Proficient English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 7 7 7 7
TOEFL iBT 24 24 27 23
PTE Academic 65 65 65 65
OET B B B B
  1. Superior English

Superior English is to obtain the maximum score of 20 in the Skilled Migration Points Test.

Minimum scores for Superior English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 8 8 8 8
TOEFL iBT 28 29 30 26
PTE Academic 79 79 79 79
OET A A A A

Visa applicants who have already undertaken or intend to undertake either the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) need to be aware that the department cannot accept results from these tests for a visa application until November 2014 (date to be confirmed on the department’s website later this year).  However, from implementation in November, an applicant can provide either a TOEFL iBT or PTE Academic score from a test taken:

  • to meet competent English requirements: in the three years immediately before they lodged  their application (or were invited to apply in the case of  points-tested skilled visas); or
  • to meet functional English requirements: no more than 12 months before lodging their  application (for functional English).

 

Applicants for these visa programmes who wish to provide scores from the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test must also demonstrate that the test results were achieved in a test conducted on or after 1 January 2015, as this is the earliest that providers of that test will implement a new scoring system suitable for Australian visa applicants.

 

Those  tests are acceptable for the purposes of a student visa application. However applicants need to be aware that many Australian universities require overseas students to provide the results of an Academic module of the IELTS for the purposes of their enrollment:

  • IELTS – both Academic and the General modules
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – TOEFL internet-Based test (TOEFL iBT)
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) (also known as Certificate in Advanced English)* and
  • Occupational English Test.