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COVID-19 has temporarily closed some testing centres and made it more complicated to get a language certificate for postgraduate study abroad. But do you actually need one? This blog explains whether an IELTS, TOEFL or similar is necessary for your course.
One of the biggest concerns for many prospective international postgraduates is whether they’ll need to take a language test when applying for a Masters or a PhD. This quick blog will help explain whether you need to prove your language proficiency. We’ll focus on the requirements for English-language postgraduate programmes in the UK and across the world.
There are a few instances in which you won’t need to take an English language test during the postgraduate application process.
The first (and probably the most obvious!) is if you’re a native English speaker. Most UK universities classify this as people from the following countries:
If you’re from one of these countries, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to take a language test unless you were educated abroad and in a different language. If you’re in any doubt, always confirm with your prospective university.
If you aren’t a native English speaker, but completed an English-taught Bachelors or Masters in one of the above countries, you probably won’t need to supply proof of your English proficiency.
However, if you didn’t receive this qualification in a certain timeframe (usually within two to five years of your new programme’s start date), your prospective university may ask for some evidence that you’ve continued to use English on a day-to-day basis or arrange a phone interview to check your language skills.
Of course, English language requirements differ widely from country to country and university to university. The above guidance relates primarily to British universities and institutions in other anglophone countries sometimes have both broader and narrower definitions of a native English speaker.
In certain cases, universities will accept English language qualifications gained during secondary education, if you’ve achieved a certain grade. Examples include:
If you’ve studied one of these (or a similar national qualification) in your home country, you should always confirm with your prospective university that it’s an acceptable proof of English language proficiency.
If you’re not a native speaker and haven’t previously studied at university-level in English, it’s likely that you’ll need to take an English language test as part of the application process.
There are several different kinds of English language test that are widely accepted at universities around the world. The main types are:
Our updated FAQ answers the key questions and offers some reassurance for prospective postgrad students.
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