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English Tests

English Tests

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) assesses one’s English language ability through third party test. Up until the end of 2014, IELTS was the only test accepted for immigration purposes. Since, a few new test have made their way on to the list of accepted tests.

These tests play a rather significant role in your application. A majority of visas have a minimum English level requisite. If you are applying for a points tested visa, a high English test score will definitely be a boost to your application. Otherwise, they could affect your skills assessment. If applying for state sponsorship, certain states may only impose additional requirements on English language ability for your nominated occupation.

It is important to note that for the IELTS, PTE, TOEFL iBT and CAE tests, an applicant can only supply a single test result to the DIBP to demonstrate their English ability. This means that if you are trying to achieve a certain level you must obtain that level in a single test sitting. Unlike the other tests, OET is a module-based test of discrete modules and is the only test where visa applicants can provide OET results achieved in more than on test.

English Proficiency Levels

Competent English

Competent English is the bare minimum required for your General Skilled Migration visa. To demonstrate this you will need to:

  • Be a citizen of and hold a valid NZ, UK, USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland passport, OR
  • Achieve test results that are at or above the scores in each category in the following table:
TestListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTS6666
PTE: Academic50505050
OETBBBB
TOFEL iBT12132118
CAE: Advanced169169169169
Proficient English

Proficient English awards you 10 points is you are applying for a points tested visa. To demonstrate this you will need to achieve test results that are at or above the scores in each category in the following table:

TestListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTS7777
PTE: Academic65656565
OETBBBB
TOFEL iBT24242723
CAE: Advanced185185185185
Superior English

Superior English awards you 20 points if you are applying for a points tested visa. To demonstrate this you will need to achieve test results that are at or above the scores in each category in the following table:

TestListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTS8888
PTE: Academic79797979
OETBBBB
TOFEL iBT28293026
CAE: Advanced200200200200
Vocational English

To demonstrate a vocational level of English, you will need to:

  • Be a citizen of and hold a valid NZ, UK, USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland passport, OR
  • Achieve test results that are at or above the scores in each category in the following table:
TestListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTS5555
PTE: Academic36363636
OETBBBB
TOFEL iBT441414
CAE: Advanced154154154154
Functional English

Functional English is for secondary applicants who are looking to avoid an English Language charge. Unlike the others, this test must be completed within 12 months of application lodgement. To demonstrate functional English, you will need to:

  • Be a citizen of and hold a valid NZ, UK, USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland passport, OR
  • Have a positive assessment from an Adult Migrant English Program, OR
  • Completed all years of Primary education and at least 3 years of Secondary education in an educational institution in or outside Australia, where all instructions were in English, OR
  • Completed at least 5 years of Secondary education in an educational institution in or outside Australia, where all instructions were in English, OR
  • Successfully completed at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma or associate diploma in an institution in Australia where all instructions were in English, OR
  • Have a positive functional level result through the Australia Assessment of Communicative English Skills (ACCESS) test, certified by the relevant testing body, OR
TestListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTSOverall band score of 4.5
PTE: AcademicOverall band score of 30
TOEFL iBTOverall band score of 32
CAE: AdvancedOverall band score of 147

English Requirement Changes for Subclasses 485, 476 and 482

On 18 April 2015 the migration regulations were modified to reflect new lowered English level requirements for visa subclasses 485, 476 and 482. Please refer to the tables below for the minimum results on each of the five approved tests, that you will need to obtain to meet these requirements. (Please note that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) has been replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482 visa effective 18 March 2018)

  • For visa subclasses 485 and 476, tests must have been undertaken within 3 years preceding the date of application.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) tests must have been taken on or after 1 January 2015
  • The IELTS, PTE:Academic, CAE and TOEFL iBT test results must achieve the minimum requirements in a single sitting

It remains that if you hold a passport from the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or New Zealand, you will not need to provide English test results.

Visa subclasses 485 and 476

The minimum requirements are as follows:

TestMinimum Overall ScoreTotal Overall ScoreListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTS6645555
PTE: Academic5036363636
OETBBBBB
TOFEL iBT441414
CAE: Advanced169154154154154
Visa subclass 482

(Please note that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) has been replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482 visa effective 18 March 2018) 

The minimum scores you will need to achieve are as follows:

TestMinimum Band ScoreListening (Minimum)Reading (Minimum)Writing (Minimum)Speaking (Minimum)
IELTSOverall score of 5.04.54.54.54.5
PTE: AcademicOverall score of 3630303030
OETBBBB
TOFEL iBTTotal score of 36331212
CAE: AdvancedOverall score of 154147147147147