Taking a proficiency test in English is one of the most important goals of your exchange and the best way to prove your language skills. If you are an Erin School student, there are three options to choose from: TIE, IELTS, or Cambridge exam – FCE or CAD. To help you make a smart decision, here are some tips on what to consider when choosing the proficiency test; the pros and cons of these three exams:

Why is it necessary to take an English proficiency test?

These tests are made to assess your English abilities in different ways including writing, interpreting and understanding English, speaking, and listening. By passing one of them you will be certified according to your English level. This will be proof of your language knowledge when applying for jobs, college applications, and more. Since the purpose of your exchange should always be developing your English skills, it’s very important to take the final test and leave this experience completed with that addition to your resume.

What to consider when choosing your final language proficiency test in English:

When choosing your English proficiency exam it’s important to decide on one that will suit all your needs. The best way to solve this question is with good research, and a solid point to check in advance is where the exams are well recognized since some of them are more popular in America and others are most used in Europe. Keep an eye on the duration of the certificate too. Some of them will have a lifetime duration and others will last for a specific period of time, ranging from 3 to 5 years.

Preparation and proficiency tests available for students at Erin School of English:

TIE – Test of Interactive English

Every student at Erin School will be assigned to do the TIE exam by the end of their courses. This English proficiency test is accepted by most Irish universities and Institutes of Technology and can be taken at their own school. It assesses the candidate’s communicative and interactive skills, both speaking and writing, based on content chosen by the student.

The TIE exam can be taken by learners at any level. Results are sent to schools or individual candidates within 14 working days, while the certificates are sent out within six weeks. All the preparation for the test is made in advance by the student, that needs to do three tasks and record them in a logbook:

  • Create a short project on a subject of interest for the student
  • Read a book of your choice in English at your level
  • Follow a News Story in the newspapers and/or on TV or radio and select the story by three different media.

IELTS – International English Language Testing System

The IELTS certificate is accepted and trusted worldwide as a measure of English ability, and because of that, can be a good choice for the students wanting to apply for colleges and international jobs. The candidates can choose between two types of exams: General IELTS test, ideal for a work visa or immigration purposes and the Academic test, made for English students. After taking the test, the certificate remains valid for two years.

The consists of 4 parts: reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, the Speaking part can be taken up to 7 days before or after the rest of the exam. Results are available 13 days after taking the test in a secure environment. It can be sent to you or picked up in person. For Erin students, there are weekly extra classes with preparation for the IELTS exam where you can solve some questions and do some extra practice.

Cambridge exam:

The Cambridge exam is one of the most respected English language tests in the world, and unlike TIE and IELTS, it is divided into specific levels with a tailored test for every level from A1 to C2. With no expiry date, the Cambridge certificate is accepted by thousands of universities, employers and government departments. Find more about each level of the Cambridge exam here.

How taking the Cambridge exam helped me?

I am currently a student at Erin School and with the start of my second semester of classes, I decided to take the Cambridge exam. I made that decision after researching a lot about the options and thinking long term about the future. My goal is to stay in Europe and apply for a college or postgraduate degree in a European institution. At this point, I am two months away from taking the test, and I have tried to adapt my routine to help me with this goal. This is a good way to encourage yourself to improve even more. Knowing that in a short period of time you will have your skills evaluated and, with that result, new possibilities can arise.

It is a good idea to tell your English teacher that you will take the test and ask for exercises and activities similar to the ones you will have to do on the day of the assessment. Another tip is to visit the Erin school library, where you will find books with old editions of exams and exercises, helping to improve your English according to what is assessed on the exams. You can borrow the books for a period of time and study at home in your free time, it can really help a lot.

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Now that you know all the relevant details about your English proficiency tests, it will be easier to make your decision. It is always important to evaluate your options and decide according to your needs and projections for the future.

Author: Juliana Hansen