IELTS Alternative Exams For Scholarships Or Admissions Applications

IELTS Alternative Exams

As higher education and job opportunities become more competitive, more and more students and professionals are turning to alternative testing options to get ahead. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is well-known as the gold standard of English language testing used to assess language proficiency for academic and professional purposes. But taking the IELTS exam isn’t the only option. Here, we’ll explore different types of IELTS alternative exams and examine their advantages and disadvantages.

Overview of IELTS Alternatives

The IELTS exam is one of the most sought-after English language proficiency tests but it isn’t the only one out there. For those who are looking for alternatives to the IELTS, there are several options that can provide similar levels of evaluation and assessment of a person’s English language skills.

Many Universities, colleges, and employers recognize the same tests that are accepted for IELTS. These are mainly exams such as the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), and the Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE).

Additionally, there are other IELTS alternatives that measure different areas of proficiency beyond language skills, such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP). Each of these exams has its own set of test takers, testing styles, and times.

It is important to note that while these tests are accepted as alternatives to the IELTS, they may not be accepted by all institutions. It is important to research the requirements of the institution you are applying to in order to determine which tests are accepted.

Benefits of Taking an IELTS Alternative Exam

Taking an IELTS alternative exam can be beneficial for those who are looking for more than just an English language competency test. By taking one of these exams, applicants can demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of other topics, including reading comprehension, math, writing, and scientific knowledge.

In addition to providing information regarding an applicant’s language skills, these alternative exams can provide an indication of overall intellectual potential. This additional insight can help universities, colleges, or employers identify potential students or employees who may be more suited for certain academic or job requirements.

Different Types of Alternative Exams

PTE Academic Exam

The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is a standardized test that assesses the English proficiency of non-native English-speaking adults who wish to pursue higher education or training opportunities in an English-speaking environment.

The PTE Academic exam is divided into four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each section is designed to measure different aspects of a person’s English-language proficiency. The total time for all sections is three hours.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is another widely used standardized test for non-native English speakers. It is accepted by many universities, colleges, and professional organizations as a reliable measure of English language ability.

The TOEFL exam is also divided into four sections: Listening Comprehension, Structure and Written Expression, Reading Comprehension, and Written Essay. It can take up to four and a half hours to complete.

CAE Exam

The Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) exam is a difficult exam designed to assess a candidate’s ability to use English accurately and appropriately in a professional and academic context. The CAE exam consists of five parts: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Use of English.

The CAE exam takes approximately four hours to complete. It is also accepted by many universities, colleges, and companies in multiple countries.

The GRE Exam

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test for potential graduate school candidates. It is composed of three main areas: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

The GRE exam measures an applicant’s verbal reasoning skills, problem-solving skills, and writing ability. The total time required to complete the GRE is around three hours.


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test used to gauge the quantitative and analytical reasoning skills of potential graduate business program applicants. It consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Section, and Verbal Section.

The GMAT exam takes about three and a half hours to complete. It is widely accepted by top business schools around the world.


The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standard test that is used by law schools to evaluate students’ critical thinking abilities and legal reasoning skills.

The LSAT exam consists of five multiple-choice sections that take approximately three hours to complete. The LSAT is also accepted by most law schools in the world.


The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) exam is a standardized test used by Canadian organizations such as Immigration Canada to assess the language proficiency of non-native English-speaking individuals who want to reside or work in Canada.

The CELPIP exam consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The total time for all four sections is around three hours.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking an IELTS Alternative Exam

Taking an IELTS alternative exam can be beneficial in some ways. Depending on the exam taken, the results may provide more insight into overall intellectual potential related to specific skills such as quantitative analysis or legal reasoning skills. As well, these tests can reduce the amount of time required for the applicant to prepare for them– some exams may only take several hours compared to as many as four weeks required by some versions of IELTS.

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages of taking an IELTS alternative exam. Not all universities or employers recognize alternative tests as valid substitutes for IELTS scores, so it is important to check with the institution’s admissions policies. As well, different tests require different levels or rigor for preparation which can impact test performance.

Preparing for an IELTS Alternative Exam

No matter which type of IELTS alternative exam an individual chooses to take, some preparation is necessary in order to succeed. Depending on the test taken and one’s personal level of preparedness, there are various methods one can use to prepare for the test.

It is important to become familiar with all sections of the test by understanding what topics will be covered and what skills will be tested. Additionally, applicants also may want to practice taking practice tests in order to get acquainted with the structure and length of each section as well as become more comfortable with the type of questions they will face during the actual test day.

Tips for Acing the IELTS Alternative Exams

1. Familiarize oneself with the exam structure to gain an understanding of each section’s content.

2. Practice using past examination papers to get comfortable with time management and pressure.

3. Take advantage of language-learning resources available online or via apps such as podcasts or audiobooks.

4. Utilize test prep classes or tutors to get feedback on one’s performance.

5. Make sure to remain organized before and during the exam by having all necessary documents ready on test day.

Questions to Ask Before Taking an IELTS Alternative Exam

1. Does my target organization/university/college accept my chosen alternative exam?

2. What type of preparation materials do I need to be successful on my chosen alternative exam?

3. What format do I need to submit my application?

4. Am I qualified for special exemptions on my alternative exam?

5. When will I receive my results after taking my alternative exam?

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