So you have an intermediate or advanced level of English? That’s great! Now how do you prove it?
Which exam do I need?
Step one is to get in touch with our friends in Minerva Consultores Academicos. You can drop by their offices or speak with them online. They represent more than 500 universities around the world. They can guide you through every step of your college application.
When it comes to TOEFL, IELTS and SAT, different universities and courses can be quite particular about which exams they accept. For example, if you need to prove your English level for a university in the United Kingdom, they might ask for a different examination than a university in the United States. Thankfully, since the pandemic, universities are becoming more flexible and accepting a wider variety of tests than in previous years; but it can still be complicated.
Preparing for the exam
Here in Language Connection, our aim is to provide the best English preparation for Bolivian students. All our teachers are fully qualified and native speakers of English, and our classes are based on participation in small groups. Furthermore, as an independent language school we don’t promote one exam over any other. We’re ready to prepare you for any English exam, and we want to help you prepare for the right exam for you.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of some of the most popular English exams available right now:
|TOEFL||SAT||IELTS||CAE (Cambridge Main Suite)||Duolingo|
|Developed By||The ETS and College Board, USA||The College Board, USA||University of Cambridge, UK||University of Cambridge, UK||Duolingo, USA|
|Important Information||Traditionally, the most popular option for Bolivian students.||Test of English and Math||General IELTS for Visas. Academic IELTS for college applications||CAE is the intermediate/advanced exam of the Cambridge Main Suite after KET, PET and FCE. There is a further advanced step called the CPE.||Newer test option. Less-established but growing in popularity|
|Online/Face-to-face?||Computer-based test at a test center||Computer-based test at a test center||Written or computer-based test at a test center. Speaking section face-to-face with an examiner||Written or computer-based test at a test center. Speaking section face-to-face with an examiner in groups.||Online|
|Available in Santa Cruz, Bolivia||UTEPSA,CBA||American International School,|
Christian Learning Center
|Not available in Bolivia. Students must travel abroad to take the test.||CEC||Online Only|
|Sections||Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing||Reading,|
Writing and Language,
|Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing||Reading and Use of English,|
|Test Duration||3 hours||3 hours||3 hours (total: speaking section may be held on a separate day)||4 hours||45 minutes|
|Generally Accepted by colleges in the United States||Yes||Yes||Yes||Limited acceptance||Limited acceptance|
|Generally Accepted by Universities in the UK?||Yes||Not necessary||Yes||Yes||Limited acceptance|
|Valid for||2 years||No official expiration, but recommended 5 years||2 years||No official recommendation, but recommended 3 years||2 years|
|Price||$180 – $325||$60||$140 – $310||$165 – $195||$49|
As you can see, there are lots of variables when it comes to English exams. Sadly, there’s no “best” option because each has its strengths and its weaknesses. In the majority of cases for Bolivian students, the TOEFL is probably the most useful exam to take, but you should make sure it’s the right exam for you before you start preparing for it.
How to pass an English exam
Understanding Minimum Grades
English examinations are not structured as a pass/fail test. Instead, a test will give you an overall score. The higher your score, the more advanced level of English you have.
Universities need to know that your English level is high enough that you can understand and benefit from learning in an English-speaking environment. This is why they set minimum grades you need to achieve. Be aware that minimum grades are often set by courses rather than the universities themselves, because some courses are more technical than others. It’s important that you research this information by yourself, or with a professional in Minerva because this information is usually updated each year.
Which test is the easiest?
Because all exams use different grading structures, it can be difficult to understand what they mean. It also means that one exam isn’t necessarily easier than any other.
Passing any of the English exams we list below is a great achievement and gives you a clear, standardized demonstration of your English level. However, your exam may not mean anything if your dream university doesn’t recognise that exam in its application process.
Below is a general equivalency table, with levels in Language Connection included for reference.
|Language Connection Level||TOEFL||IELTS||CAE (Cambridge Main Suite)||Duolingo|
|Level 4: Intermediate||59-75||4.5-6||PET||65-100|
|Level 5: Upper Intermediate||76-90||6.5-7.5||FCE||105-130|
|Level 6: Advanced||91-120||7.5-9||CAE||125-160|
As with all tests, your score is not always a direct reflection of your ability to use English. In most cases, your score is a reflection of your general English level AND your exam technique. That is, how familiar you are with the style of the test, and if you are providing the type of answers that the test is looking for.
For example, a native English speaker would probably not score full marks on any of these tests on their first attempt. They will score very highly, but they are most likely to misunderstand or become confused by some of the test’s instructions, especially in writing sections, and lose points. Learning how to approach an exam is an incredibly important factor in your success.
How do I prepare for a test?
The best way to prepare to take one of these tests is to book a simulation with us in Language Connection. We will set up examination conditions for you to take the test, and it has 3 clear benefits:
- By taking the test, you know how it feels to take it. You start to become familiar with the format and time management.
- You receive a reference grade, so you know what score you currently are capable of.
- We learn which areas of the test are easier and difficult for you, so we can focus on your weaker areas and improve your overall score.
What classes are available:
For TOEFL and SAT, Language Connection offers group courses. Contact us to find out when the next one starts. Students can also study with us in private classes. Private classes can focus on TOEFL, SAT (English or math), IELTS, Cambridge Main Suite or Duolingo.
Be aware that we make sure a student has at least reached an intermediate level of English before we start preparing them for an exam. If a student has not reached level 4, they should build up their general English level first in group classes, before they specialize in preparation for one of the English tests.
Can I find out my general English level?
We offer a free diagnostic test to all students.
Some additional important information
Your ability to succeed academically and socially while you study in an English-speaking country is closely connected with your confidence to use English well to express yourself and understand the world around you.
Students don’t need to be fluent speakers of English to make the most of their international experience, and your English skills will definitely improve while living in a new place. However, just aiming for the minimum entry grade isn’t a strategy for success.
Students who reach an advanced level of English before moving abroad are much more comfortable with understanding lectures, contributing in group classes, and in writing essays and usually outperform students who struggle with English.
English courses in the United States
Be careful if you see a college promoting their courses with a minimum entry grade that is very low. Often, these colleges require students to enter their own English programmes, which are not credited towards your final degree. These courses are often more expensive than courses you can take independently before applying.
If our friends in Minerva referred you to Language Connection, let us know! We’ll give you 10% off our group courses as a special discount.
For any further information, here’s how you can contact us:
Language Connection: Whatsapp: 78496717
Minerva: Whatsapp 770-50076 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org