English certificates at a glance
Today, universities and colleges around the world offer courses taught exclusively in English, making it easier for international students to enroll in study abroad programmes. If you are applying to a university or even an international company, you will most likely need an English certificate to prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the language.
Passing an English test and getting the language certificate requires time, effort, and a lot of dedication. Below we will go through some of the general information about the different English certificates that are widely accepted around the world. This will help you better understand their structure and assessment and decide which certificate is the right for you.
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEFL® is one of the most popular English certificates worldwide. In most cases it is offered as an internet-based test (TOEFL iBT), but there is also a paper-based one that can only be taken in specialised test centres. The TOEFL certificate is valid for two years.
The TOEFL iBT takes 3 hours to complete. On the other hand, the paper version of it only takes 2 hours and 25 minutes since it does not include the speaking part.
The test consists of 4 parts. Each part has a maximum of 30 points for an overall of 120 points.
The first two parts will test your reading and listening comprehension skills with some multiple-choice exercises.
In the speaking section your answers are recorded, sent to an online network, and then assessed by official raters (usually between 3 and 6). The written part is also assessed by this network.
The most common score required by universities is 70-90 (B1/B2). Some universities also require minimum scores in some of the 4 parts of the exam. The price of the TOEFL® iBT varies greatly depending on the country and test centre. Given the high cost and difficulty of the exam, it is always advised to participate in a targeted TOEFL test preparation course.
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
The IELTS test is an academic test designed for academic and professional environments. Like the TOEFL®, the IELTS test is one of the most popular English tests in the world. The IELTS is also accepted as proof of language proficiency for certain work permits as well as for immigration reasons. The IELTS Academic consists of 4 parts or sections.
The overall tests is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The IELTS test is available both online and on paper. In both versions, the oral part is administered in person by a certified examiner.
The results of the IELTS test are scored on a scale from 1 to 9. Common scores required for admission to English programmes are usually between 5.5 and 6.5. As with the TOEFL test, IELTS prices vary from one country to another. The IELTS certificate is valid for two years.
Cambridge English Qualifications
Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations) is a non-profit organisation that offers English language certificates for different language levels.The most popular exams are:
The B2 First (formerly known as First Certificate in English - FCE) is about the same level as the usual scores for the TOEFL® test (B1 - B2) and IELTS 5.5 - 6.5. The test takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.
The C1 Advanced (formerly known as the Certificate in Advanced English - CAE) is based on the high C1-C2 levels (comparable to IELTS 6.5 - 8.0) and is accepted by many UK universities and over 9,000 educational institutions and companies worldwide. It takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
The C2 Proficiency (formerly known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English - CPE) is the most advanced exam, graded at the C2 level, which is well above the maximum scale of the TOEFL® test and comparable to an 8.5 and above on the IELTS test. The exam takes about 4 hours.
All three certificates (B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency) are divided into 4 parts:
- Reading and Use of English
The Cambridge certificate is mainly used in the UK, but it is also accepted by many universities and colleges worldwide. Unlike other certificates, Cambridge certificates have no expiry date.
Unless you have used your English language consistently, it is advised to take a new test and get an up-to-date certification.
English Certificate Preparation Courses
To prepare you for your English Certificate test we offer special courses that are adapted to the requirements of the various examinations as well as to your language level. The structure of the language lessons corresponds to the scope of our standard or intensive language courses.
Attendance and completion of a preparatory course leads to the attainment of a professional language level, which is necessary for the acquisition of the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge language certificate. The language courses are aimed both at those interested in having their language level officially determined and certified and at people who want to apply to university or for a job in an English-speaking country.
Online language courses with English certificate
Online preparation courses are offered in addition to our in-loco ones. Prepare for your English certificate from the comfort of your home and improve your language level in small online groups together with other like-minded people.
Frequently asked questions about English certificates
English is spoken by around 1.35 billion people in the world. English language certificates are needed to record and certify the level of speakers in a standardised way. At Sprachcaffe you can prepare for the most important English language certificates such as:
- TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- IELTS test (International English Language Testing System)
- Cambridge Certificate (Cambridge Certificates)
The TOEFL and IELTS certificates are often required to apply to university, college or jobs in English-speaking countries. The TOEFL test is given by an American organisation, so it is more suitable for working for companies in the United States. The IELTS test is published by "Cambridge English" and is therefore more suitable for stays in the Commonwealth. However, many companies and universities accept both English certificates.
The Cambridge Certificate sets a target level that you must demonstrate in order to pass the exam. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is a division of Cambridge University that offers the following certificates:
- Certificate of Advanced English (CAE)
- Cambridge First Certificate of English (FCE)
- Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)
- Cambridge English Preliminary (PET)
- Key English Test (KET)
It is a certificate with no expiration date that confirms that you have reached a high level of English. It is a great addition to your CV and increases your value on the international job market.
Validity: While the Cambridge certificate remains valid for life, the TOEFL and IELTS certificates are only valid for two years.
Result: The TOEFL and IELTS certificates determine your current language level. After taking and passing the test you will receive a certificate attesting how many points you have scored. For the Cambridge English test, you have to achieve a certain score and thus a certain language level in order to pass it. You will then receive a certificate. You can pass the exam with a grade of A, B or C.
Sprachcaffe has been offering English language courses to prepare for English certificates for over 35 years. You will be placed in a learning group according to your level and be instructed on the requirements of the English exam of your choice. In the small learning groups, your progress will quickly become noticeable. The minimum age for participation in an English certificate preparation course is 16 years. All courses are recognised as educational leave.
The most important consideration is which test(s) the schools or companies you are interested in accept. Both the TOEFL and IELTS tests are accepted at many secondary schools and large companies around the world.
The TOEFL test is administered by an American organisation so it is more suitable for working with American companies. The IELTS test is published by "Cambridge English" and is therefore more suitable for stays in the Commonwealth. Many schools and companies accept the results of both exams. However, specific institutions might prefer one over the other, so always check before booking your preparatory course.
Most students choose to take the TOEFL iBT® test. It is a 4:30 hour online English examination that tests reading and listening comprehension as well as speaking and writing skills. This test is explicitly for English used in an academic environment. The TOEFL iBT® is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points, with all four skills being equally weighted.
The IELTS consists of the same four setions (writing, reading, listening and speaking). The first three (writing, reading and listening) are tested in a written test, which lasts 160 minutes. The oral part of the exam lasts about 15 minutes.
The test for the Cambridge Certificate depends on the exam chosen. Usually the test runs over two days. On the first day, depending on your language level, reading, writing and listening are tested for 1-2 hours each. The test can be taken on a computer or be written by hand. On the second day, the oral part of the Cambridge exam takes place. This is often taken together with a fellow student and lasts about 15 minutes.
The costs for the English certificates usually consist of two components. The first is the cost of the preparation course, which can vary depending on the duration and intensity, and the cost of taking the exam. The prices are set by the respective organisations.
TOEFL: 240 USD
IELTS: 234 EUR
Cambridge Certificate: Prices vary depending on the English exam as well as the exam centre:
For example, the cost of a Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is currently around 180 euros.
The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) is about185 euros.
And the Cambridge Certificate in Business English (BEC) is between 130 and 190 euros.
Do you have a question or need some advice?
We are always ready to solve any doubts you might have!