If you are planning on studying, working, or becoming a permanent resident of Australia, you will be required to meet specific English language requirements.
There are a lot of different English language tests that are accepted in Australia. We’ve put together some top tips on how to prepare for these tests for free to ensure you’re getting the best results possible.
What do you need an English test for?
There are some international students who are exempt from having to undertake an English test for their visa applications. But if you do not fall into any of these exemption categories, you will be required to undertake an English language test for most visa applications to Australia.
The Department of Home Affairs requires individuals who migrate to Australia to show a good understanding of the English language. To prove this, you can be asked to show that you have successfully completed an English language test for immigration to Australia and have gained a minimum score needed for your application.
Which English language test should I take?
If you are required to take an English language test, the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS), Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT), Cambridge C1 Advanced and Occupational English Test (OET) are all valid tests for assessing your English skills. Each of these tests are accepted by the majority of educational institutions and the Department of Home Affairs for visa applications.
Prior to taking an English test, check with your educational institution or the Department of Home Affairs for the level required and the minimum score necessary to prove your English skills. The different English levels and their required scores can be found here:
All tests must be completed within a period of two years before you apply for your visa.
How can you prepare for English tests for free?
International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS)
You can prepare for the IELTS test in Australia by utilising free resources on the IELTS website, such as the practice materials. These include IELTS support tools, which gives you an overview of the test and provides tools that can help you prepare, and IELTS Advantage, which is great for first-time test-takers in preparing them for what to expect in the test. IELTS also provides free mock and sample test questions for all modules. Along with these resources, you can also gain access to an online training module with up to 25 hours of practice material for a period of 30 days when you book your test.
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
The PTE Academic test in Australia is scored on a scale between 10-90 points, which reflects performance on all modules within the test. There are some great resources available on Pearson’s official website, which can help you in preparing for the test. It has free courses developed to tackle each task type on the test, and there’s also a 6-hour Future Learn course developed by Macquarie University in collaboration with Pearson to help you practise your speaking skills.
You can download the official PTE app, PTE Academic Official Practise, which helps you prioritise key practice activities. The app’s study planner suggests daily practise activities for you to focus on based on your test date.
Check out our 10 tips to prepare for the PTE Academic test here.
Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
TOEFL iBT is an online English language test for migration to Australia. Each section of the test (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) receives a scaled score from 0 to 30, for a total test score of 0 to 120.
You can access various full practice tests on the official TOEFL iBT website which are free. These full practice tests can be done as often as you like, and include all four sections of the test and include real past test questions. The TOEFL iBT website also offers practice sets that allow you to practise each section of the test. These can help you familiarise yourself with the types of questions and content on the actual test and understand how the test sections are structured.
Cambridge C1 Advanced
C1 Advanced, formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE), is available as an online and a paper-based test, and is scored between 180-199.
On the Cambridge English website, you can find free paper-based and computer-based sample tests. You can watch tutorials prior to starting the practice tests and have access to the answer key to evaluate your paper. Cambridge English also provides short practice activities online which you can filter to target the skills and level you’d like to improve, as well as how long you’d like to test to take. There is also access to a free Write & Improve tool which helps you improve your English writing skills.
In addition, you can complete the self-study activities. These are designed to help you develop reading for gist and detail, familiarising yourself with vocabulary, and drafting, editing and planning for the exam. You can download a free writing checklist to improve your written English, or check out the Information for Candidates booklet, which has study tips, frequently asked questions, and exam day advice.
Occupational English Test (OET)
The OET is specifically for individuals in healthcare professions who require an understanding of technical vocabulary. For each individual component (subtest) that makes up the OET, you receive a numerical score from 0-500 in 10-point increments. This numeric score is matched to a letter grade, ranging from A being the highest and E being the lowest. There is no overall grade for OET.
Check out OET’s Preparation Portal for preparation material to help you practise for the test. There, you’ll find paper-based and online free sample tests. There are sample tests for all of the different subtests of the OET (reading, listening, writing, speaking), including a pre-test introduction video to help you better understand the subtest. You can also access OET Masterclass videos, or join one of the twice-monthly live Q&A sessions on the OET Facebook page to have your questions answered.
Other free English language test resources
E2Language is another resource that can help you prepare for PTE Academic, IELTS, TOEFL iBT, and OET. E2 Language offer a free 30-day trial with access to a selection of the videos, activities, and practice questions to get you started and to help you identify areas you need to work on, as well as an opportunity to join sample live classes to get tips from teachers.
APEUni is a platform that can help you practise for the PTE Academic, while IELTS Liz is a YouTube channel for IELTS test-takers. The IELTS Liz videos take you through each individual section of the IELTS test, along with vocabulary videos to help with your writing and speaking tasks. Global Exam is a great online resource for Cambridge C1 Advanced where you can practice full tests under exam conditions to assess yourself.