IELTS – ‘International English Language Testing System’, is an international standardised test of English language proficiency. It is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd, and was established in 1989.
There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:
The total test duration is around 2 hours and 45 minutes for Listening, Reading and Writing modules.
Listening: 40 minutes, 30 minutes for which a recording is played centrally and additional 10 minutes for transferring answers onto the OMR answer sheet.
Reading: 60 minutes.
Writing: 60 minutes.
IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (or TOEFL, pronounced “toe-full”) evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. It sometimes is an admission requirement for non-native English speakers at many English-speaking colleges and universities.
Additionally, institutions such as government agencies, licensing bodies, businesses, or scholarship programs may require this test. A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then will no longer be officially reported since a candidate’s language proficiency could have significantly changed since the date of the test. Colleges and universities usually consider only the most recent TOEFL score.
The TOEFL test is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is administered worldwide. The test was first administered in 1964 and has since been taken by more than 23 million students. The test was originally developed at the Center for Applied Linguistics led by the linguist, Dr. Charles A. Ferguson.
The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a commercially-run standardized test that is an admission requirement for many graduate schools, in the United States, and in other English-speaking countries. Created and administered by Educational Testing Service (or ETS) in 1949, the exam measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. In the United States, Canada, and many other countries, the GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based exam administered by select qualified testing centers; however, paper-based exams are offered in areas of the world where computer-based testing is not available.
In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and between departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being a mere admission formality to an important selection factor.
Critics of the GRE have argued that the exam format is so rigid that it effectively tests only how well a student can conform to a standardized test taking procedure. ETS responded by announcing plans in 2006 to radically redesign the test structure starting in the fall of 2007; however, the company has since announced, “Plans for launching an entirely new test all at once were dropped, and ETS decided to introduce new question types and improvements gradually over time.” The new questions have been gradually introduced since November 2007.
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT, pronounced G-mat, [dʒiː.mæt]) is a computer adaptive standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools commonly use the test as one of many selection criteria for admission into graduate business administration programs (e.g. MBA, Master of Accountancy, etc.) principally in the United States, but also in other English-speaking countries. It is delivered via computer at various locations around the world. In those international locations where an extensive network of computers has not yet been established, the GMAT is offered either at temporary computer-based testing centers on a limited schedule or as a paper-based test (given once or twice a year) at local testing centers. As of August 2009, the fee to take the test is U.S. $250 worldwide.
The exam measures verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that the examinee has developed over a long period of time in his/her education and work. Test takers answer questions in each of the three tested areas, and there are also two optional breaks; in general, the test takes about four hours to complete.