ielts or toeflWhen applying to most universities in the United States, proof of knowledge of the English language might have to be presented.  The standard way institutions of higher education check for this is through standardized tests such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The IELTS is an examination established in 1989 and managed by the University of Cambridge, the British Council, and IPD Education.  Although preparing for the exam may be stressful and challenging for those wishing to be admitted to a university with a set minimum score, performing well is far from impossible.

The IELTS is broken down into four main components – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.  It’s very important to read and listen to directions carefully, as not closely following them can mean bad marks earned.  Simple mistakes are often made by not conforming to the directions given.

The TOEFL is headed by the Educational Testing Service, and was originally created by faculty at Stanford University in the 1960s.  Like the IELTS, it is also broken down into Reading Speaking, Listening, and Writing sections – though it’s a bit different.

There exists a variety of preparation courses that aid in getting a better grasp of the language and scoring high on these examinations.  A quick search online can lead an inquisitive student in the right direction to a local or online resource.  With proper preparation, exam scores can be raised significantly after completion of a course.  Universities are generally told not to accept neither IELTS nor TOEF scores older than two years, so an up-to-date report is necessary for most applications.