What are the different English tests? (and which one is right for you)

As part of our tour of the various English tests, we will focus on the cases of three future candidates:

And you, are you in the situation of one of these 3 future candidates?

Three candidates, three needs (studies, work, migration services) but only one objective: to pass an English test with a CEFRL level high enough for their respective institution to accept their application.

But among the wide choice of exams and certificates available, which English test to choose?

Presentation of the English tests

Our three candidates have compiled a list of 5 tests to assess their level of English , all widely used in the academic world, work or even migration services:

  • Linguaskill
  • Business English Certificates, or BECs

All these English tests have many points in common:

  • The individual performance in English of each candidate is attested by means of a rewarding certificate;
  • They are all issued by internationally recognized English-language institutions ( British Council , ETS , Cambridge Assessment );
  • The increasing number of candidates over the years confirms the importance and confidence placed in these English exams.

Start by analyzing the available testsStart by analyzing the available tests

First, we will look at these five most famous English tests, then, secondly, we will determine which one or ones best meet the needs of Léa, Baptiste and Yohan.

This will help YOU, dear reader , to determine which English test to take according to your own needs.


IELTS (by British Council)

The International English Language Testing (in short, IELTS ) is a standardized English test that assesses the candidate’s ability to:

  • to continue their studies abroad ;
  • to work in an English-speaking environment;
  • to meet the conditions for entry into the territory of an English-speaking country with the migration services.

Its growing popularity is reflected in a record number of tests taken:
3.5 million candidates in 2018 .


Test procedure

In 2h45 , this English exam, available in 2 versions Academic (for studies and work) or General Training (for internships abroad and migration services), assesses the 4 pillars of the English language in a center examination accredited by the British Council. In the program :

  • Listening (30 minutes): 40 questions based on 4 audio recordings of various conversations between 2 or more people (only one listening per recording);
  • Reading (1 hour): 40 questions on various documents such as extracts from books or newspaper articles. The questions can be presented in the form of MCQs, sentences to be completed or answers to be written entirely;
  • Writing (1 hour), part in 2 stages:
    • A description of a graph or table interpreting the results
      (~150 words);
    • A small dissertation related to an issue or an opinion
      (~250 words).
  • Speaking (15 minutes): discussion with an examiner about your private life (study, career, family, etc.), as well as a subject that you will have to draw lots for in front of the examiner, on which you will be asked a series of questions .

Correlation with the CEFR

After about ten days , you will receive by post your
Test Report Form (your IELTS certificate) with your level of English , on a scale of 0 to 9 .

Even if this score does not have an official correlation with the CEFR , it is still possible to convert your IELTS score to the CEFR level approximately, but the latter will not be valid as a reliable notation characterizing your level of English. from A1 to C2.

However, there is nothing to worry about: due to the high quality of the exam, its popularity and the positive image of the institution issuing the certificate, companies and universities have adapted and set their minimum criteria for IELTS and therefore accept this certificate without hesitation.


Where to take it / Registration

You can take this test at a British Council accredited test centre . In France, there are only 9 approved centers to pass the IELTS which are limited to 1 or 2 sessions per month.

Find all the details on the cities, the dates of the sessions and the conditions of registration on the dedicated web page of the British Council .


Prizes and resources for training

The IELTS costs between €228 and €235 depending on the approved center and the type of exam desired ( academic or general training ).

It is thus in the average price of our list. Please note that the certificate issued by IELTS is in principle only valid for 2 years! To maximize your chances of success, it is best to practice IELTS by completing a few practice exercises to determine your ability to pass this English test.

In any case, it is strongly recommended to invest in additional resources to have the best possible result. Take advantage of these 20 solutions to better learn and improve your English on a daily basis and put the odds on your side to pass this test.

Passing an exam in English… No, don’t stress!Take an exam


TOEFL (by ETS Global)

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized English test that aims to be the big competitor of IELTS, with one difference: it is less specialized in the professional context. It mainly assesses the candidate’s ability to:

  • continue their studies abroad ;
  • meet the conditions for entering the territory of an English-speaking country with the migration services.

More than 2.3 million candidates take this test each year.


Test procedure

Even in its “IBT” (Internet-based test) version, the TOEFL takes place in an approved test center; they exist in more than 50 towns in France. In 3 hours , this exam assesses you on the 4 pillars of the English language :

  • Reading (54 to 72 minutes): 30 to 40 questions on 3 or 4 academic texts;
  • Listening (41 to 57 minutes): from 28 to 39 questions on the progress of a course or on a discussion between a professor and students;
  • Speaking (17 minutes): expressing your opinion on the topics of family, as well as on the topics previously covered in the Reading and Listening sections  ;
  • Writing (50 minutes): write a small dissertation on the topics previously covered in the Reading and Listening sections and give your opinion.

NB: There is also a PBT ( Paper-Based Test ) version, but its form has become extremely rare and is endangered, especially in France. You have nothing to gain, so it is better to choose the TOEFL IBT without hesitation.


Correlation with the CEFR

Depending on your place of passage, you will have to wait between 4 and 6 weeks to obtain your official TOEFL certificate by post (!) but after 6 days , you will already be able to know your TOEFL score online.

The TOEFL score has an official correlation with the CEFR expressed on a scale of 0 to 120 (from A2 to C1).


Where to take it / Registration

You can take the TOEFL IBT in an approved test center in more than 50 cities in France, with sessions offered between 1 and 2 times a month.

Find all the details on the cities, session dates and registration conditions on the dedicated ETS TOEFL web page .


Prizes and resources for training

The TOEFL IBT costs approximately €220 per session, regardless of the city chosen.

This English test is only slightly cheaper than IELTS and is also only valid for 2 years after the exam date. To maximize your chances of success, it’s best to practice the TOEFL by performing a few practice exercises .


Linguaskill, ex-BULATS (by CAE)

The Linguaskill is a test assessing the candidate’s level of English in everyday life and in the world of work. Formerly called BULATS, this test, available in 2 versions ( General and Business ), has many competitive advantages :

  • score correlated with the CEFR ;
  • adaptation of the questions to the real level of the candidate;
  • fastest and cheapest test in its class.

More than 3 million candidates take this test each year , which justifies its presence in this list and gives it a strong advantage when it comes to choosing afterwards.


Test procedure

In 2h25 , this English exam evaluates, in an approved test centre, the 4 pillars of the English language :

  • Reading and Listening (1h to 1h25):
    • Reading  : pieces of sentences to complete or MCQs from a proposed text;
    • Listening  : answer MCQs after listening to a few audio recordings.
  • Writing (45 minutes): write a short email on a given subject (~ 50 words), then a longer text on another subject (~ 180 words).
  • Speaking (15 minutes): unlike previous tests, here, there is no examiner in front of you, your answers are recorded on a computer and will be evaluated later by a corrector. You will have to answer multiple questions orally on your private life, a chosen subject or a given graphic, then express your opinion on 5 themes. A preparation time of 1 minute is left for each of them.

NB: The test procedure is similar for Linguaskill General and Linguaskill Business , only the documents used for the assessment vary.


Correlation with the CEFR

There is a delay of 2 days (!) after your passage before receiving all of your results under the name of Test Report .

Your Linguaskill score has an official correlation with the CEFR , expressed on a scale of 100 to 180+ (from A1 to C1+), in great detail and with the possibility of aligning its score with the other English exams offered by Cambridge Assessment English .


Where to take it / Registration

You can take this test at an approved test center in more than 40 cities in France. The number of sessions per month is higher than for previous tests, and varies by city.

Find all the details on the cities, the dates of the sessions and the registration conditions on the dedicated Cambridge English web page .


Prizes and resources for training

The Linguaskill costs around €120 per session .

It is the cheapest comprehensive English test in its class. To maximize your chances of success, it is better to practice Linguaskill by performing a few preparation exercises to determine your ability to pass the exam.

In any case, it is strongly recommended to invest in additional resources to have the best possible result.

Take advantage of these 20 solutions to better learn and improve your English on a daily basis and put the odds on your side to pass your exam.

Between the tests, you will have time to discuss!Everyone must pass an English test



Undoubtedly the best known of all English tests, the Test Of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is a recognized English test to assess the level of comprehension and oral and written expression of the candidate in a professional environment. in English.

More than 7 million candidates take this exam each year , mainly because of its worldwide recognition which brings a very rewarding mark on a CV to stand out.

Many engineering schools and business schools require you to pass the TOEIC to validate your diploma. (If you are one of them, write to us and we will publish an article on the subject).


Test procedure

Like the TOEFL , it is accessible from an authorized test center in more than 50 cities. This English exam takes place differently from the previous ones because it takes place in 2 sessions:

  • Listening & Reading (2h)
    • Listening (45 minutes): listening to several audio files on various subjects (in the form of dialogues ), then 100 questions in the form of multiple choice questions;
    • Reading (1h15): understanding text, filling in missing words or correcting errors in 100 questions in the form of MCQs.
  • Speaking & Writing (1h20) . The test takes place on a computer and the answers to your questions are recorded.
    • Speaking (20 minutes): expressing your opinion on a text, describing an image or a graph, then answering questions asked on the subjects covered by these documents;
    • Writing (1h): description of an image, writing two emails and a short dissertation on a given subject (~ 300 words).

Correlation with the CEFR

The deadlines for receiving your Certificate of Achievement for the TOEIC differ slightly depending on the session:

  • Between 1 and 15 days for the Listening & Reading part (depending on the type of delivery);
  • No more than 8 days for the Speaking & Writing part .

Your TOEIC score has an official correlation with the CEFR, expressed on a scale of:

  • 10 to 990 for Listening & Reading (from A1 to C1);
  • 0 to 400 for Speaking & Writing (from A1 to C1).

Where to take it / Registration

You can take this test in an approved centre, on a computer or even on paper ( Listening & Reading only) in more than 50 cities in France, with always one or two sessions offered per month.

Find all the details on the cities, session dates and registration conditions on the dedicated ETS web page .


Prizes and resources for training

The TOEIC costs between €102 and €131 per session  ; it is therefore necessary to plan between 204 € and 262 € for the entire exam including Listening & Reading and Speaking & Writing (if you wish, taking it all at once is quite possible).

To maximize your chances of success, do not hesitate to train for the TOEIC by carrying out some preparation exercises to determine your ability to pass this English test.

The best free solutions to train:

  • Your English Test TOEIC
  • 4 TOEIC tests
  • Exam English TOEIC

The best paid solutions for training:

  • ETS global preparation tools
  • Global Exam TOEIC

BEC (by Cambridge Assessment)

The Business English Certificates (BEC) takes the form of three specialized and independent English tests, which assess the candidate’s ability to speak confidently in international business environments .

These three tests make it possible to validate the following three levels of the CEFR :

  • B1 Business Preliminary (2h20) ;
  • B2 Business Vintage (2h40) ;
  • C1 Business Higher (3h) .

Test procedure

Accessible in more than 30 cities in France, these three English exams have a very similar structure, whatever the category ( B1 , B2 or C1 ), only the difficulty and the duration will vary:

  • Reading (from 45 minutes to 1 hour): reading and understanding of different types of texts in a professional context (publication, graphics, email…);
  • Writing (from 45 minutes to 1h10): writing two types of text, which can be a memo, a letter, an email , a letter …;
  • Listening (40 minutes): understand a series of documents including interviews, discussions, presentations…;
  • Speaking (12 to 16 minutes): take part in discussions with other candidates on various subjects and express their opinion.

Correlation with the CEFR

No matter which test you take, it is the format of the exam that determines the final reception time of your certificate: approximately 6 weeks of waiting for a test taken on computer… and 9 weeks of waiting for a test passed on sheet (!!).

There is still a way to know your score online , in order to know if you have validated your certificate or not. Once again, the delay is very variable depending on the case…

Naturally, your score is directly correlated with the CEFR level for which you took the exam:

  • B1 exam – scale of 140 and 170 ;
  • B2 exam – scale from 160 to 190 ;
  • C1 exam – scale from 180 to 210 .

The point system is flexible and can reveal a level higher (or lower) than the exam passed. Thus, depending on your performance, the B1 Business Preliminary will validate a level from A2 to B2; the B2 Business vintage a level from B1 to C1; and the C1 Business Higher test a level from B2 to C2!


Where to take it / Registration

You can take this test at a Cambridge Assessment-accredited test center in more than 30 cities in France; they organize about 1 or 2 sessions per month.

Find full details of cities and exam center contact details for dates and registration requirements on the dedicated Cambridge Assessment webpage . Registration is done by phone or via an online application form.


Prizes and resources for training

The prices for the BEC vary according to the exam taken and amount to €155, €225 and €250 respectively for the B1 Business Preliminary , B2 Business Vintage and C1 Business Higher .

This series of three independent diplomas represents the most complete examination, the most demanding but above all the most rewarding. Also, its lifetime validity and recognition in very large global companies are widely appreciated .

To maximize your chances of success, it is better to carry out some training exercises to determine your ability to pass one of the BEC English tests, whether:

  • the B1 Business Preliminary
  • the B2 Business Vintage
  • the C1 Business Higher

In any case, it is highly recommended to invest in additional resources to pass this English test. Take advantage of these 20 solutions to learn and improve your English on a daily basis and put all the chances on your side to pass your test at the best possible level.


Other English tests

You don’t need to look any further than this list of five English exams. There are, of course, many other independent tests such as:

  • the KET: an English test for beginners (level A2);
  • the BMAT: an English test for admission to major medical schools;
  • the EF SET: an English test invented by Education First, the famous center for organizing English language stays, designed to “train” for the real English tests presented above;
  • the GMAT: THE English test to enter major MBA-type management schools.
  • the OET: another test to assess English skills in the field of medicine.
  • ECL language  tests: standardized language tests for European Union languages. The format is the same regardless of language and is available in 15 languages (including English) and 26 countries.

However, these are less interesting for assessing your level of English for school, professional or migratory needs than the tests presented higher, more rewarding, better recognized in the world and easier to pass in France.

In the case of our 3 future candidates, this is clearly not the best solution in each of their situations.


Which English test to choose?


Summary table

The Big Five English TestsEnglish tests: IELTS, TOEFL, Linguaskill, TOEIC, BEC


Final choice: which English test?

At first glance, one might think that each of these five tests suits their needs, and that they are no more advanced than at the beginning!

The question always arises: which English test to choose?

For this, our 3 candidates went even further and summarized the positives and negatives of each English level test , depending on their situation. This principle of elimination will finally allow us to filter each of the tests more precisely and thus identify the one (or those) that exactly meet the needs of Léa, Baptiste and Yohan.

TESTgood pointsnegative points
IELTSValid for all; fast results (10 days)Hardly accessible (9 cities); score not correlated to the CEFR
TOEFLRecommended for studies and immigration proceduresNot intended for work; long results (4 to 6 weeks)
LinguaskillThe simplest ; very fast diploma (2 days)Less impact internationally; few exam centers available
TOEICTo be favored in the professional contextLong wait (twice about 2 weeks)
BECLifetime degree; very rewarding for workVery long wait (up to 9 weeks!)

These positive and negative points will therefore allow you to choose the ideal English test for your situation.

Thus, for our future candidates, here is the final choice of each:

Léa: brilliant student wishing to validate her preparatory year with an English exam to be admitted to a major business school.

She has an interest in opting for IELTS or Linguaskill , often delivered by educational institutions to their students before changing course. The TOEIC is also a good choice, provided you do it well in advance to have time to receive your result.

⚠️ Because you can never be too careful, it is important to check directly with the university or school in question their admission conditions and the English tests accepted .

Baptiste has a first professional experience in the sale of robotic equipment and wishes to apply in an international company. He needs a high level in English to hope to be hired.

Knowing that the big international companies favor the most well-known English exams, it is better to avoid the still poorly known Linguaskill. Baptiste’s choice is therefore IELTS, TOEIC or BEC: each of these three English tests enjoys a very good reputation and are more business-oriented. To boost his chances of being accepted, it is better to choose the most demanding, namely the BEC , but if he lacks time, he can also choose the TOEIC without fear or, even faster but just as qualitative, the IELTS.

Yohan: French entrepreneur, he fell in love with a charming Australian and wants to get closer to her partner; for this, he must absolutely pass the many tests of the Australian immigration services, including one to demonstrate a high level in English.

For Yohan, a B2 level proving a good ability to manage in daily life is the minimum to achieve. For this, we leave aside the exclusively business-oriented English tests. So we are left with IELTS and TOEFL. Better to focus on the second, the TOEFL , taking advantage of official recognition and equivalence with the CEFR level. It is the preferred test of the immigration services. In addition, if he wishes to resume a few years of study on site, he can very well assert his TOEFL to be accepted, provided he does not wait more than 2 years!

Personally, my big ambition this year is to complete an internship in a company in the United States. I would have gone well on a BEC C1 Business Higher but, being still a student, my university offers me the possibility of taking the TOEIC tests at half price just in my region. Despite a validity that is too limited for my taste (2 years…), I can’t miss it!

And you, why are you planning to take an English test? Feel free to share your projects with us in the comments! 🙂


See as well

We have seen which English tests exist and which one to choose in your case. Is that enough? Nope ! ? In a future article, we will see tips and tricks to prepare , train, and pass the TOEIC, TOEFL or any other exam.

Keep in mind, however, that English exams are only there to confirm your level . Cramming a language exam doesn’t really make sense.

The goal is for you to learn English for good , because it is an important language that you will use every day . The above tests cost you quite a bit of money just to know your level. Invest in yourself and reach a C1 level in English to ensure you pass the exam with our online English course, Click & Speak . A user recently told us:

“I find the method you have put in place really good […] Some time ago, I went to take the TOEIC. Without working because I wanted to see my level. Result: I finished the race early, with 930 points. – Stephane