English language tests and exams


Which test or exam should I take?

The tests and exams below are the most well-known and widely accepted for higher education, work and visa purposes. However, they are not all recognised equally by government agencies, employers or universities. Please check the websites carefully to make sure that your score will be accepted by the relevant ​​organisation. 


Would you like to find out about your English level? You can do this by taking the British Council Aptis test.

Aptis is a flexible language test delivered by organizations for recruitment, staff development and training purposes. It assesses all four language skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. It is increasingly being used at AKU for these purposes. You can sign up for all the test or for any combination these test modules.

Please contact us for further details about this test.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) offers a general and an academic test. IELTS General Training measures your English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context.

IELTS is widely accepted​ by employers and government organisations for visa purposes. It is the only language test currently accepted in support of visa applications to the UK​. It can be taken through the British Council in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

ELE_net offers two courses to help you acheive your IELTS goals, IELTS Preparation and IELTS Advanced.

Cambridge English

Cambridge English Business Certificates, BEC, are offered at three levels: Preliminary, Vantage and Higher. 

You can use this search facility to find an exam centre near you and see who accepts Cambridge English exams. Sample tests​ and exam guides are provided by Cambridge to help you prepare.


Pearson offer a paper-based general English test, PTE General​, as well as an English for Specific Purposes course, English for Business​.​​


The Business Language Testing Service, BULATS, offer a workplace language assessment which can be taken online. You can contact your local BULATS agent to get more information, including prices and availability of tests.

The Sample Test has a tutori​al which shows you how to answer questions before you attempt the Demo test.


TOEIC is a well-established test which assesses English language reading and listening skills for the workplace. Search for your local ETS office to check the availability of TOEIC where you are.

Language proficiency and the CEFR

The Common European Framework of Reference f​or Languages (CEFR) can be used to describe people's language ability in a consistent and standard way.

​The English tests and exams listed above have been mapped to the six levels of the CEFR in the table below. A2 refers to a 'Basic user', B1-B2 to an 'Independent user' and C1-C2 to a 'Proficient user'. ​​

​A2 ​​​


​Upper intermediate​​​​

​PTE Ge​​nera​​l Level 1​​​​

​BULATS 20-39​​

​TOEIC 255-400

​IELTS 4-4.5

BEC Preliminary

PTE Genera​​l Level 2

BULATS 40-59

TOEIC 405-600

​IELTS 5-6.5

BEC Vantage

PTE General Level 3

BULATS 60-74 

TOEIC 605-780​

​IELTS 7-8

BEC Higher

PTE G​eneral Level 4

BULATS 75-89

TOEIC 785-900
​IELTS 8.5-9

PTE General Level 5

BULATS 90-100

TOEIC 905-990​

For each level, the CEFR describes what a learner can do in reading, listening, speaking and writing. These reference levels are increasingly accepted around the world as the framework for measuring proficiency in all languages.