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English tests for Australian Visas

English tests for Australian Visas

We wrote this guide to help you understand how English tests work for different Australian Visas, find out if you need to take one of these tests, what is the minimum score required for each different visa application and which test is the best for you.

Most visa applications in Australia require evidence of a certain minimum level of English. In most cases, the only way of showing such evidence is by sitting for an English Language Test and getting the minimum scores specified in the regulations for each visa.

1 – What is the minimum English score required for an Australian Visa?

Depending on the visa you are applying for, your minimum score requirements will change. If you take the IELTS Test as an example, some visa applicants will have to get a minimum overall score of 5, whereas other visa applicants will be required to score 8 in each component of the test. 

There is a big difference in having to score 5 and having to score 8, which shows how wide the range of proficiency levels required for a visa application can be. 

Don’t forget that the maximum score on the IELTS Exam is 9, so if your visa application requires you to score 8, it means that you must show evidence of a very advanced level of English.

If you are not confident enough or need help to achieve the required score, we encourage you to prepare online with our partners E2 Language. They have a range of online courses focusing on preparing you for different exams.

Here are some of the most popular visas for Australia and their English test requirements:

  • Subclass 482 TSS Temporary Skills Shortage Visa: minimum overall score of 5, with no less than 4.5 in each component if your occupation is on the STSOL list, of minimum score of 5 in each component, if your occupation in on the MLTSSL list. 
  • Subclass 485 Skilled Graduate Visa: minimum overall score of 6, with no less than 5 in each component; 
  • Skilled Temporary and Permanent Visas Subclasses 491, 189 or 190: depending on your Points Test you will have to score 6, 7 or 8 in each component of the test; 
  • Subclass 186 Permanent Employer Nomination Visa and Subclass 494 Regional Employer Sponsored Temporary Visa: most applicants for these visas need to score at least 6 in every component of the IELTS Exam. 

If you are not sure how much you should score in your case, please contact us for a personalised Visa Action Plan Consultation

2 – Which English test is required for Australian Immigration?

For years, the Department of Immigration only accepted the IELTS Exam and the OET (Occupational English Test). Luckily for everyone, this is not the case anymore, there is a variety of English Language tests accepted for Australian visas!

Here are the tests currently being accepted by the Australian Department of Immigration: 

  • TOEFL IBT 
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic
  • Cambridge Advanced Certificate 
  • IELTS General 
  • OET (Occupational English Test) 

The table below shows scores comparisons between tests, based on how much you would have to score on the IELTS Exam:

English tests for Australian Visas

3 – Is it true that the PTE is easier than the IELTS?

Generally speaking, we would say that yes, it is. We have seen a lot of our clients try the IELTS for the minimum score they needed over and over and over, and when they give up and try the PTE, they get the minimum score required very quickly. So, based on the number of people we have seen succeed at the PTE and fail at the IELTS, our opinion is that the PTE is easier than the IELTS. 

We also hear our clients say that the PTE test format is more comfortable as it is a computer-based test. A lot of people feel intimidated while taking the IELTS Exam, especially during the Speaking component, and seem to be much more at ease when they take the PTE. 

4- Is it true that taking the test outside of Australia is easier? 

We have seen some clients obtain better results at their IELTS Exams when they take their tests in countries where English is not the official language. It could be just speculation, but it may be that it is indeed easier to take the test outside of Australia. 

Whether you are onshore or offshore, we encourage you to take English Test Preparation classes with our partners E2 Language. They offer courses for IELTS Academic, IELTS General and PTE Academic. 

5 – Is it necessary to take the English Test before applying for an Australia Visa?

Be very careful here and check with your Registered Migration Professional what applies to your case. Some applications will require that you present results at the time of lodgement and if you don’t, your visa will be refused. 

Some types of visa application allow you to present the results later, such as when you are applying for certain permanent visas as a Secondary Applicant. If you are applying for a permanent visa and you have family members aged over 18, they may have to sit for English tests too.

6 – Who is exempt from having to take the English language test for Australian Visas?

Applicants from English-speaking countries are not obliged to sit for an English test when applying for visas to Australia. They must hold passports from the countries below: 

  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland 

But even holders of the passports above may sometimes have to sit for an English test. they may have to claim points for English to score the minimum 65 on a Points Test for a Skilled Visa, and the only way of doing that, even if you are from an English-speaking country, is to sit for an English Test. 

Even if you don’t hold a passport from the countries above, check with your Registered Migration professional if the visa subclass you are applying for offers avenues to claim exemptions.

7- How long is the English Test Score valid for in Australia?

In most cases, your test results will expire after 3 years of being issued, but you need to be careful as this is not always the case. For example, if you are applying for some types of permanent visa as a Secondary Applicant, your test may only be valid for one year. 

8 – Skills Assessment Authorities may not accept all the exams above 

Be careful! It’s not because the Department of Immigration accepts all the tests above that your Skills Assessment Authority will accept them too. 

If you are applying for a Skilled Visa in Australia, in almost all cases you will also have to apply for a Skills Assessment. Some Skills Assessments authorities require you to show evidence of a minimum English level established by them on the front-end of your application. 

But even though the Department of Immigration started accepting other tests, some Skills Assessment authorities haven’t, and they may never do it. Some may only accept IELTS Academic while the Department of Immigration accepts IELTS General.

Our very experienced Registered Migration Agents prepared this guide on English tests for Australian Visas to assist you as much as possible with your decisions. The guide is based on legislation, and it carries the knowledge that only a firm that has worked on thousands of applications can draw from. But this guide still contains only general information, and you should not base your migration decisions on it alone. 

We always recommend you consult with a Registered Migration professional and of course we would love it if you chose Bravo Migration for a personalised visa strategy consultation. Contact us via customers@bravomigration.com.au, phone: +61 2 9216 6600 or book your consultation online.