Popular English Tests for Applying to UK Unis

So, you’re wanting to come and study in the UK? What a great choice!

To live and study here you need an English Language test as a requirement if you’re an international student, so get ready to do some studying!

There are plenty of English language tests available to develop your knowledge, and we’re here to help you pick which one’s best for you.

So, let’s take a look at the most popular English language tests for those students who want to live and study in the UK!

IELTS – International English Language Testing System

Difficulty Rating- Medium

Sitting a IELTS language test exam

The IELTS Academic test is recognised by over 10,000 education facilities worldwide and perhaps the most popular choice for English language tests for students.

Ideal for postgraduates and undergraduates, the IELTS test assesses your ability in speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

It’s not just a boring old test that you’ll forget after a few days, because IELTS actually tests you with face-to-face speaking in real-life contexts which is brilliant for the memory!

Overall, this test is super highly rated, giving you a great mix of practical skills you’ll remember for life.

With a handy 2-year validity period, find out who accepts the IELTS exam results here for future reference.

For more useful information on the IELTS exam, check out our page for great hints and tips!

What is the IELTS format?

Each section of the IELTS English language exam is broken down into parts including academic reading, general training reading, general training writing and speaking and academic writing.

The results are designed to be simple and easy to understand, reported on band scores from a scale of 1 (lowest score) to 9 (the highest), remember there’s no pass or fail with this test.

The total time of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes, which may sound like a long time, but it’ll whizz by when you’re concentrating!

When it comes to the listening test, you will listen to four recordings of English speakers, then write your answers to the questions.

The reading format has 40 questions, designed to test your skills, with several variations of multiple-choice answers, sentence completion, and many more.

With 40 questions for general training reading, two tasks including graphs and an essay for academic writing, two tasks for general training writing and a speaking exam for 11-14 minutes, you’ll be very busy indeed!


Difficulty Rating- Medium

TOEFL is a popular English Test for students applying to university

The TOEFL® iBT test is another super popular English language test for students applying for university in the UK, and is basically the American version of IELTS.

Some universities may convert the score to an IELTS score, with the test having the same 2-year expiry as the IELTS.

It has four sections which are reading, listening, speaking, and writing, and is accepted by more than 11,000 universities across 150 countries, wow!

The TOEFL is super convenient because it’s offered at local test centers near you on a computer, on their website you can find out what’s available and where.

They offer a free practice test, and you receive your official score just 6 days after your test, so you needn’t worry about a long wait!

What is the TOEFL test format?

For each four sections, you’ll combine English communicating skills such as reading, listening and writing.

The total test takes around 3 hours to finish, but you should probably plan for 3 and a half hours and allow 30 minutes to check into your test centre!

When completing the reading task, you’ll have to read certain passages and respond to questions, with speaking you have to talk about familiar topics and discuss material you’ve read and listened to.

Listening involves writing about brief lectures or classroom discussions, and for writing, you have to read a passage, listen to a recording and type your response!

You’ll also get a ten-minute break during the test so you can grab yourself something to eat if needed.

C1 Advanced Test

Difficulty Rating- Hard

C1 Advanced test is popular with students applying to universities

This particular test is known as being one of the hardest ones, but the best news is, it’ll last you a lifetime!

Over 9,000 educational institutions accept the C1 Advanced Test, with it being regarded as a high level of English, it’s a recognisable achievement.

The qualification shows that you can follow an academic course at a university level and express yourself with a high level of fluency, you’ll be an expert in no time!

Monthly tests are usually available at 2,800 exam centres around the world, and they really do open doors to fabulous experiences like international travel, work and study.

How Is The C1 Advanced Test Formatted?

The C1 Advanced Test is a popular choice for students applying to university in the UK. It is made up of four papers consisting of reading and use of English, writing, listening, and speaking.

For the reading and use of English section, there are 8 parts and you’re allowed 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the test!

The texts may be from magazines, journals, books, fiction, and other materials to really test your knowledge.

It’s slightly longer than the others, lasting around four hours, and it can be on a computer or paper-based, so it’s your choice!

The results are reported on a Cambridge English Scale, and you will receive a separate score for each of the four skills included in the test.

Five scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam, and you’ll be also given a grade and Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR) level.

How Can A Short-Term Language School Improve Your Test Score?

Listening and speaking aspects to an exam are normally a lot easier if you’ve had the chance to practice with native speakers and visit the country.

This is why Summer Language Schools and Courses in the UK can give you the perfect opportunity to develop your skills and prepare you for the important English language exam you’ve chosen to take.

Whether you’re completing some time at a summer school or just need a few weeks to study, Homes for Students have plenty of cosy independent living options in our studios, or shared cluster flats for the experience to mingle.

Short-term language schools are a fantastic way of building your confidence and improving your social skills so you’re all set and ready to go for your studies.

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