If you are looking to study overseas this fall, here is an overview of English language tests that are widely accepted by Universities and Colleges around the world.

With the fall 2020 semester just around the corner, prospective international students around the world are preparing their applications to study overseas in countries like Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and several others.

Every University/College sets their own admissions policies. Universities make their assessment basis the applicant's transcripts, professional background, statement of purpose (SOP), and academic and professional recommendations. One of the most important factors that they assess is the applicant's language skills.

It is important to check with the respective University or college the student is applying to before deciding upon which language test to take.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, language testers have had to scale back their operations at physical facilities to comply with the government lockdown orders around the world. Fortunately, language testers have started offering online tests to help international students meet the admissions requirements of Universities/Colleges around the world.

Following are some language testing options widely accepted by Universities/Colleges around the world.

IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic is operated by three partners: IDP Education, the British Council, and Cambridge Assessment English. The test is accepted by around 3300 American institutes and universities and around 400 Canadian colleges and universities. It is currently available in over 30 countries, but is usually administered in more than 140 countries.

Results are available after 13 days for paper-based tests and within 5-7 days for computer-based tests.

In response to the pandemic, the three partners recently introduced the IELTS indicator as a temporary measure to help international students complete their English test online. IELTS indicator is taken online from the candidate's home.

The IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training (both of which can be completed in person at an IELTS test centre) are the only English tests approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for students that want to fast track their study permit application.


The Duolingo English test is accepted by several institutions worldwide. It can be completed in just 1 hour and results are available in 2 days. The test is administered online.


The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is accepted by 90% of Canada's Universities and Colleges. It is widely accepted in many other countries as well. Normally available in over 50 countries, PTE is currently available in over 10 countries, including India.

Test results are available for most people within 2 days.

Pearson is also offering its Versant test online during the coronavirus period so that international students can get their English assessed at home. Versant test results are available immediately after the test has been completed.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is accepted by over 8500 institutions across 130 countries, including UK, USA and Australia, as well as the world's top 100 Universities. TOEFL is administered by US-based organisation the Education Testing Service, and so is conducted in American English.

Results are available within 6 days.

The TOEFL iBT ("Internet-based Test") is usually available in over 150 countries but the administrator of the test, Education Testing Service ("ETS") has had to scale back operations just like every other tester. Test dates are becoming more available for students in locations around the world in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, ETS is temporarily offering the TOEFL Special Home Edition iBT to International students in every country where it runs tests except for mainland china and Iran.

Results are available after 6-10 days.

Cambridge Assessment English

C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency exams offered by Cambridge Assessment English are accepted by more than 9,000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments around the world as a proof of high-level achievement in learning English.

Test results are available within 2-3 weeks for computer based tests, and 4-6 weeks for paper-based tests (both of which must be completed at a Cambridge test centre)

These exams are generally taken after students have completed English language courses. As such, tests are more in-depth to prepare students to be able to put their English language skills in good use in real-life contexts, including higher education. C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency certificates are valid for life, which means that some institutions in Canada accept results that are older than 2 years. Cambridge is reopening its global test centres as local regulations allow and advise students to contact their local test centres for the latest information.


The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test is operated by Paragon Testing Enterprises. It is accepted by over 180 universities and colleges across Canada, including all English-speaking universities and 82 percent of English-speaking colleges. According to Paragon's website, CAEL is set to once again be available in India, the Phillippines, the UAE, and in most of Canada by early June.

Test results are available within 8 days.

Other Options

There are other options available to international students. For instance, there are tests that are offered by individual institutions themselves, such as the University of Toronto and McGill University.

Before registering for and English language test, make sure that the University you are applying to accept the test. In addition, make sure to confirm that the University will accept online tests that are being currently offered during the COVID-19 period.

IELTS General and CELPIP for Canadian Immigration

Many international students go to obtain Post-Graduation Work Permit and then apply for Canadian Permanent residence status. Before submitting your Canadian immigration application, you need to take another language test, and the two English tests accepted by IRCC are the IELTS General and the CELPIP.

Fortunately, your English skills will be even stronger by the time you take either test due to the time you will have spent learning, working, and socialising in Canada.