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What kind of English test do US and UK universities require you to do before you can be admitted?

I am an international student hoping to join an American or British University next fall. My country doesn’t have English as a first language although it’s offered in the curriculum and I passed my English exams. Is there an English practice test that one can do in order to get better prepared for these college applications? Also, why are English levels of such concern to these universities where bright students are from countries where English isn’t the primary language of instruction?

Alexa Spicer

in Exams and Tests

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Ross Pratt on January 17, 2018

You are right that most, if not all universities in the two countries require significant and proven knowledge of English because that is the primary language of instruction and interaction in these countries and universities. The requirements may however differ slightly for different schools and you would need to check with the school’s application website to find out what specific language requirements are in place. Departmental requirements may also differ. While some universities in the UK and US may require you to be a native of a country with English as either the first or second official language, others may require to just prove good command of the language and ability to articulate yourself both in writing and orally.

There are exams that you can take to prove your level of English mastery. The most important for both countries is the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also widely used by specific institutions. I would advise that you check with the specific institution you are applying to see what other requirements they may place on international students. Minimum scores for the tests that I’ve mentioned will also vary with the institution or department that you are applying to so it is important to keep that in mind before you take the test so that you know what you are working towards. Since these schools may not have your proven record of language proficiency, these standardized tests for English give them a pretty good idea about your skills and mastery of the language and also helps them compare you to other international students who may be applying to the same institution.

For English institutions, completion of the GCSE/IGCSE course which has English as the primary language of instruction and interaction will probably suffice for toughness without the need for doing the extra tests. Both of these quite frankly assume that upon completion of the several years of training transcending various subjects, you have mastered English as the primary language of instruction and communication. Your levels of English should be way up there once you’ve completed the course.

All in all, I urge you to look at the English Language requirements for different countries. Check with the websites of the British Council and the office of international student affairs for the schools you want to apply to.

Kyle Mckinneya year ago

The first place you’d probably need to go is the website of the individual school or department that you are applying to. Being a Pre-med myself, I should advise you that courses differ. Some courses may require that you have extra language requirements based on instruction and communication. Others may just need you to finish a couple of months or
hours, then write oral and written exams. You can get an English Practice Test online on several websites or you can register for the TOEFL. Sometimes, you have been instructed in English but your school is in a country or region that is not recognized by some colleges. You can write a letter to the university’s admission department for international students and explain your predicament.

Colleges in the US differ from the UK so I suggest looking at both countries and your list of universities individually. Anyway, good luck with your applications.


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