Australia accepts different English tests for immigration purposes. Discover which English test for Australian visas is the right one for you.
So you’ve decided to take an exciting leap and move to Australia. Whether you’re planning to work, study, or make a home in this country, mastering English is key.
Like many countries, Australia requires proof of English language proficiency for most visa applications. This is where Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) come into play.
SELTs are standardised English language proficiency tests, recognised by many governments, like the Australian government, for visa and immigration purposes. They measure your ability to communicate in English, ensuring you can thrive in an English-speaking environment.
Which English proficiency test does Australia value more?
When it comes to choosing an English test for an Australian visa, you have several SELT options to choose from. The Australian government accepts scores from the following tests:
- International English Language System (IELTS)
- Pearson Test of English (PTE)
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE or C1 Advanced)
- Occupational English Test (OET)
All four tests assess your proficiency in the four fundamental language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Among these tests, the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is a popular choice.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the different English tests for Australian visas, highlight Australian visa IELTS requirements, and explain why sitting the IELTS test could be your best step forward in this journey.
Overview of SELTs: Understanding your options and their differences
Each test has unique features tailored to different needs. Here’s a quick overview:
CAE (C1 Advanced)
Now, let’s take a closer look at each test, their purpose, and main differences between them:
There are many ways IELTS can prepare you for life in Australia.
Firstly, it’s ideal for most Australian visa application purposes, including academic pursuits, work, or general immigration. It’s also globally recognised by more than 12,000 organisations, with a face-to-face speaking assessment that gives you a realistic experience of communicating in English.
A key benefit is that the Australian government will accept IELTS test results that include One Skill Retake (OSR) for certain test takers. This means you can retake just one section of the test if needed, without having to redo the entire test, to get the score you need.
For more information on the exceptions to this rule, make sure to visit the official website of the Australian Government.
The PTE test is a fully computerised test that’s designed primarily for assessing your academic English knowledge.
For the speaking part, you’ll talk into a microphone, instead of speaking with a person face-to-face. Your responses are then evaluated using AI and you can expect to receive your results typically within two days.
3. CAE (C1 Advanced)
Cambridge English: Advanced test, which is now known as C1 Advanced, is a widely recognised test that is accepted by over 9,000 organisations globally. It is a high-level qualification that proves candidates have the English level to communicate effectively in academic and professional contexts.
The exam has paper-based and computer-based modes of delivery, and the test format is the same for both. The computer-based test is being replaced by another version starting February 2024.
The exam consists of four papers each testing one of the English skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and the whole test takes 3 hours and 55 minutes.
Similar to IELTS, the Speaking test in the C1 Advanced exam is done face-to-face but usually with one or two other test candidates and two examiners.
This test is specifically designed for healthcare professionals and is ideal for nurses, doctors, and other medical staff.
It assesses your English proficiency in a medical context, using scenarios, test materials, and terminology that you would normally encounter in healthcare settings.
Australian immigration IELTS requirements
The Australian government categorises English language proficiency levels for visa applications into five distinct classifications, each associated with a specific IELTS score:
An average band score of at least 4.5
At least 5 for each of the 4 test sections
At least 6 for each of the 4 sections
At least 7 for each of the 4 test sections
At least 8 for each of the 4 test sections
The exact IELTS score requirements for an Australian visa highly depend on your specific pathway, whether it’s for study, work, or general immigration.
For example, for a student visa, you’d need a minimum overall IELTS score of 5.5. However, for a vocational training visa, you need to prove you have Functional English.
For some permanent work visas like the Employer Nomination Scheme visa, you must have at least Competent English. But to be eligible for a temporary work visa like the Business Innovation and Investment visa, you must have at least Functional English.
To ensure you meet the right English language requirements for your specific visa type, check out the Australian government’s official immigration website for the most up-to-date information and guidelines on what score you’ll need in your English test for an Australian visa.
IELTS: your passport to a new life in Australia
Choosing the right English test for your Australian visa application is important. IELTS stands out as the perfect option for many. Some benefits of taking the IELTS test for an Australian visa include:
- Tailored to your needs: With its two tests, Academic and General Training, IELTS caters to both higher education applicants and those migrating for work or other reasons.
- Wide acceptance: The Australian government accepts IELTS for all types of visas, making it a universally accepted option.
- One Skill Retake (OSR) option: IELTS on computer test lets you retake just one section of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing, or Speaking) if you need to. This flexible choice is accepted by Australian immigration. To know more about One Skill Retake visit this page on our website.
- Face-to-face Speaking test: IELTS offers a more natural and interactive assessment of speaking skills compared to computer-based tests. The Speaking test is as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.
- Preparation resources: There’s a wealth of study materials and practice tests available to help you prepare effectively.
By choosing IELTS, you're selecting a test that not only meets the requirements for Australian immigration but also sets you up for success in an English-speaking environment.