British English tests and exams, American tests, exams and tests for Spain… Where there is so much choice, there must be lots of differences. Relax! All these acronyms and abbreviations that sound like secret organizations have more in common than you would think: they are all about English, they all test both receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) skills and they all assess the level of English knowledge, whether for general or specific purposes.
So let´s take a closer look to what the differences are all about.
The Cambridge Tests and Exams.
These are the most renowned and prestigious English exams worldwide. They cover a wide range of skills assessment by levels, from general English to English for specific purposes.
The latter are closer to tests and are designed for professionals who need a concrete certification and speedy results. BULATS, Linguaskill and Occupational English Test (OET) are the most asked for Cambridge Tests. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is considered to be the most popular English test for global migration and studies abroad.
The American English Tests.
TOEFL and TOEIC are the most popular American English tests and are usually needed for professionals who apply for a position – whether work or studies related – in the USA.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) has long been used as a condition to ascertain the level of English for high-school graduates who wanted to study in an American University.
The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is considered to be a newer variation of TOEFL, although it has recently been revived when asked for different calls for public office (oposiciones) or graduate admission exams in Spain.
APTIS and Oxford Test of English
These are tests specifically designed for the Spanish market by organisms such as the British Council or the University of Oxford. These tests have recently become relatively popular thanks to the speed of registration, testing, and results availability. Both APTIS and OTE are exclusively computer based and are mostly preferred by teachers who apply for a position in bilingual public schools and high-schools.