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Alternatives to the IELTS Exam

There are alternatives to the IELTS exam if for any reasons you think this test might not be right for you.

Here we'll consider some of these other tests and point you to where you can get more information or compare IELTS with these other tests.


The TOEFL ibt test, also known as the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test, is a widely recognised alternative test to IELTS. Universities in over 150 countries, including the UK, accept TOEFL scores for enrollment of foreign students.

The test measures four areas: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. It lasts approximately four hours and is known to be rigorous and demanding. However, the TOEFL ibt test offers an accurate assessment of a non-native English speaker's ability in academic settings making it a reliable alternative to the IELTS exam.

Learn more about the difference between IELTS and TOEFL and get advice on which test is easier.

Pearson PTE Academic Test

Pearson PTE Academic Test is another robust alternative to IELTS. It is a computer-based language test that provides a measure of a test taker's language ability to universities, higher education institutions, government departments, and organizations requiring academic English.

The test includes three sections: speaking and writing (combined), listening, and reading. It uses a range of integrated skills and tasks, and its result is widely accepted by universities in the UK and around the world.

The Duolingo English Test

The Duolingo English Test also serves as an excellent substitute for IELTS. It distinguishes itself from others by offering the convenience of taking the test from home.

The test concludes within an hour and includes a combination of speaking, reading, listening, and writing tasks, with a video interview segment. Moreover, the test results are available within two days, and more than 2000 universities worldwide, including those in the UK, accept this test.

The Occupational English Test (OET)

A possible alternative to the IELTS exam is The Occupational English Test (OET) if you are a healthcare professional. It assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practice in an English-speaking environment.

Therefore, if you are looking forward to studying abroad in health-related fields, the OET can be a more catered alternative to IELTS. The UK accepts this test for various health-related programs.

Learn more about OET vs IELTS.

The Cambridge C1 & C2 Exams

C1 Advanced (formerly Cambridge English: Advanced CAE)

C1 Advanced is a high-level qualification in English for demanding academic and professional situations. It is accepted by over 9,000 educational institutions, businesses, and governments around the world. Thus, if you are targeting high-level academic and professional applications, C1 Advanced can be an excellent alternative to IELTS.

C2 Proficiency (formerly Cambridge English: Proficiency CPE)

Obtaining a C2 Proficiency certification signifies that you've attained an outstanding mastery of the English language. It demonstrates your ability to communicate with the fluency and sophistication characteristic of a highly proficient English speaker.

Successfully preparing for and passing this exam indicates that you possess the English proficiency required to excel in advanced professional or academic settings, such as postgraduate or PhD programs.

The Password English Language Test

The Password English Language Test is not a test that you can opt to do like IELTS. Rather it is a test that many universities are now using to assess students' for their courses.

A plethora of UK universities recognise it as a reliable measure of English language competence. It includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and use of English (grammar and vocabulary) and takes up to 3 hours to complete. Moreover, it can be delivered by any organisation under secure conditions verified by Password's unique online invigilation system.

Medium of English Language (MOI)

Do you actually need or want to take an IELTS test or an alternative to the IELTS exam?

If your last school was approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you have a unique advantage. You can apply to Medium of English Language (MOI) accepted universities in the UK without having to take an English proficiency exam.

Therefore, you may not need to sit for IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, or any other language proficiency test. This route becomes increasingly convenient for students who have previously studied in English-medium institutions.

Alternatives to the IELTS Exam in Canada

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

We've mainly focused on alternatives to the IELTS exam for access to UK universities but if you want to go to Canada there is the CELPIP test.

The CELPIP test, or Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, is another highly sought-after test. Emphasizing Canadian English and accents, it measures English language proficiency in four skills- listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Though primarily recognized in Canada, a growing number of UK institutions are commencing to accept CELPIP as a measure of English language competence.

Compare the IELTS and CELPIP tests

Summing Up

In conclusion, there is not just one path but multiple paths represented by various alternative tests to IELTS that you can choose to fulfil your dreams of studying at a university in the UK or elsewhere.

There are numerous resources available to help you decide how to get to the UK to study. Empowered with the right information, you can successfully navigate the world of English language competency tests and find your way to a rewarding university abroad.

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