Australian visa applicants will have a choice of two new English tests from next month, broadening their options beyond the traditional assessment options such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Occupational English Test (OET).

The Test of English Language as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) are both set to be accepted by the Immigration Department from November this year.

However the official commencement date for the two tests is still yet to be announced by the Department.

So what does the introduction of the new tests mean for applicants?

English teaching expert, Rohan Feegrade from Feegrade Consulting, says whilst the new tests will provide greater opportunities for different types of learners, neither assessment presents an easier path than what is currently in place.

“The main differences between the tests are the format in which they are presented and the way that each test must be approached. Some people might perform better under the structure of one test type than the other, but that doesn’t mean they’re any easier to pass than the IELTS, or any other form of English competency test.”

“At the end of the day they’re both aiming to assess the key common goal of English language proficiency.”

Mr Feegrade also said expert help was still recommended for both new test types, and that in his opinion, IELTS will continue to be the most commonly taken test.

“I still believe that the majority of people will continue to sit the IELTS test as a preferred option, however, certain people will greatly benefit from the increased variety of options.”

Senior Migration Solutions agent, Nam Hoang, says it is important for migrants to realise that it is only the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that have agreed to accept the new test types.

“The decision to accept the test results will be up to the individual discretion of bodies such as State Governments and skills assessing authorities,” he said.

“Applicants are advised to check with the necessary bodies as to what test results they will accept before undertaking an English proficiency test of any kind.”

An outline of the structure of the two tests can be seen here.

The following visa subclasses will accept a TOEFL iBT or PTE Academic test score as evidence of English ability from November 2014:

  • Distinguished Talent (Australian support) (subclass 124)
  • Business Talent (subclass 132)
  • Former Resident (subclass 151)
  • Business Owner (provisional) (subclass 160)*
  • Senior Executive (provisional) (subclass 161)*
  • Investor (provisional) (subclass 162)*
  • State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner (provisional) (subclass 163)*
  • State/Territory Sponsored Senior Executive (provisional) (subclass 164)*
  • State/Territory Sponsored Investor (provisional) (subclass 165)*
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
  • Business Innovation & Investment (provisional) (subclass 188)
  • Skilled – Independent (subclass 189)
  • Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190)
  • Work and Holiday (temporary) (subclass 462)
  • Skilled – Recognised Graduate (subclass 476)
  • Temporary Graduate (subclass 485)
  • Skilled – Regional (provisional) (subclass 489)
  • Distinguished Talent (subclass 858)
  • Skilled – Regional (subclass 887)
  • Business Innovation and Investment (permanent) (subclass 888)
  • Business Owner (Residence) (subclass 890)
  • Investor (Residence) (subclass 891)
  • State/Territory Sponsored Business owner (Residence) (subclass 892)
  • State/Territory Sponsored Investor (Residence) (subclass 893)

*Closed to new applications, but family members can apply

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