One of the questions you often get asked if you choose to study abroad is,”Do you have an ETS?

Many students who are asked this question often respond with,”What is an ETS?

This article is going to explain what an ETS stands for, why it is important and if you need one to study abroad.

What does ETS stand for?

In study abroad lingo, ETS is an acronym that stands for English Test Score. An English Test Score or ETS is an English language test certificate that proves your ability to understand the English language well enough to the required level for university learning. This is usually the B2 level.

An ETS is awarded after you write a corresponding test and achieve at least the minimum required score on that test.

Many universities in Europe and elsewhere require that international students from non-native English speaking countries present an ETS score.

Examples of ETS Tests

There are many types of ETS tests that can be used as proof of English proficiency. The following are four of the most popular tests:

  1. TOEFL: The TOEFL is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities. TOEFL is one of the two major English-language tests in the world. The acronym TOEFL stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language.

The TOEFL test is divided into four sections. These are; Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

The TOEFL test is offered in two formats.

  • iBT – Internet Based Test
  • PBT – Paper Based Test

The score range for the TOEFL test is:

iBT: 0 to 30 on each of the 4 sections. So total of 0 to 120.

PBT: Listening: 31 to 68, Structure: 31 to 69, Reading: 31 to 67. Total of 310 to 677. Writing (separate): 0 to 6

The TOEFL test has more popularity in the USA

More info on this test at

  1. IELTS: The IELTS test is the second of the two major English-language tests in the world. The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS is also an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

The IELTS is also divided into four testing sections namely: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.

The grading system for the IELTS is band 0 to 9, in 0.5 band increments. A band 1 score equals “non-user” and a band 9 score equals “expert user”.

The IELTS test is more popular in European countries.

More info on this test at

  1. TOEIC: The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is “an English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.”

The TOEIC test is a smaller version of the TOEFL and does not fully test all aspects of English proficiency as the previous two.

More info on this test at

  1. Cambridge English CAE or CPE: The Cambridge English tests are a set of tests developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment. Cambridge CAE stands for Certificate in Advanced English while CPE stands for Certificate of Proficiency in English.

The Cambridge CAE and CPE are both suitable as proof of English proficiency. However, the CPA is far more advanced and has been developed to show achievement of an extremely high level of English.

The Cambridge tests grade ranges from A1 to C2 according to the CEFR.

One major advantage of the Cambridge CAE and CPE test is that the tests scores do not have an expiry date like the IELTS and TOEFL scores.

More info on this test at

Do you need an English Test Score?

Now that you know the four popular English Tests that are usually required by universities abroad, the question you should ask yourself is, Do I need an English Test Score?

The answer to this question varies from person to person depending on a number of factors. To figure out if you need an English Test Score, you need to first know if you fall into the category.

Category One: Nationality

Universities often require an English Test Score from students who are citizens of Non-English speaking countries. The U.K. government classifies the following countries as majority native English speaking:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada*
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Therefore, if you are not a citizen of any of these countries, you may be required to present an ETS when applying to the university.

Category 2: Previous Country of Study

Another category in which you may not be required to show proof of English with ETS is if you previously studied in one of the majority native English countries for an extended period of time.

If you obtained you high school diploma or bachelor degree from a school in any of the above countries, you may be exempt from showing proof of English.

Category 3: Special Exemptions

The third category of students whom may be exempt from presents an ETS are those granted special waiver by the admitting university.

Some universities waive the requirements for an English Test Score for students from countries that are not majority native English speakers but who have completed the first degree in the English language as far as they can show proof from the university usually through an official letter of attestation from the university.

Not all universities offer this waiver but some do. You should do your research to find out which universities offer an exemption.

In conclusion, if you are not a citizen of a majority native English country and have not studied in any of these countries for an extended period of time, it is best if you take an English Language Test.

Having the English Test Score will greatly improve your chances of admission into a university of your choice.