English language tests — Which one is right for you?

Studying in Australia requires a lot of planning and preparation. Find the right course, find the right institution, get the paper work completed and submitted on time… it can feel like a huge task. A major element of any application to study in Australia is your English test score.

The tests available

There are five different tests accepted for Australian student visa applications:

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Recognised by more than 10,000 tertiary institutions in over 130 countries, TOEFL requires participants to perform academic tasks that critique listening, reading, speaking and writing skills.

Cost: $300*

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

There are two types of IELTS – Academic, designed for those wanting to study at university or enter a professional institution, and General Training, which provides more practical testing. It may be required to migrate to an English-speaking country or attend high school.

Cost: $330*

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)

Cambridge offers three English language qualifications – Schools for foundational skills, General and Higher Education for those wishing to take on further study, and Business, which is designed for professionals in international workplaces.

Cost: $330-$360*

Occupational English Test (OET)

An English test developed for the healthcare sector, OET is recognised by universities and hospitals in several countries including Australia and the United Kingdom. The test is broken up into four sections — an hour of reading, 50 minutes of listening, 45 minutes of writing and 20 minutes of speaking.

Cost: $200-$587*

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

The three-step test format begins with speaking and writing, followed by reading and then listening, with a range of multiple choice and essay questions. Some questions can be graded as partial credit, meaning the answer is partly correct, in which case the participant will some points but not the maximum amount.

Cost: $330*

How do I know I am ready to sit a test?

With each of these tests costing upwards of $300, it is an expensive investment and one that you’ll only want to make once. It’s a good idea to have your ability assessed before handing over your money to make sure. Fluent IQ is a low-cost way of testing your skill level before undertaking an official entry test. They offer two assessments – Chat for speaking and listening (up to 15 minutes for $12 USD) and Works for speaking, listening, reading and writing (up to 60 minutes for $25 USD). The results of a Fluent IQ assessment shows a comparison of likely scores across all of the official entry exams.


1 A1 2.5 10 -
2 A2 3.5 30 -
3 B1 4.5 36 40
5 B2 5.5 50 60
7 C1 6.5 65 80
8 C2 7.5 79 100



*All prices listed are indicative only

Useful Links:

Test your English Skill with Fluent IQ

The international student application process

Cost of living in Australia for international students

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