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My English Language Exam Experience

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Hi Guys,

     I was thinking that when I was looking into taking the English exams I didn't really see information about how people felt about the exams. I took both the TOEFL and the IELTS general, and wanted to give my personal experience in case any others were wondering the differences/which exam to take. I encourage others who have taken the other formats to share their experiences as well, but please remember we cannot give away test questions/answers etc, just our opinions.

My background- I am applying for the Skilled Independent 189 Visa as a perioperative nurse. I did nursing as a secondary masters degree and have an undergraduate in communication with an extensive writing history in public relations. I am a native English speaker from the United States and all of my education has been conducted in English.

All of that being said, I found the TOEFL test very difficult. I started studying almost 2 months prior. I took 6 full length practice exams with nearly perfect scores on each. I studied every single day. On the TOEFL I found the reading to be the most difficult, followed by the listening. I found the range of subjects very complex, and sometimes felt that without any previous knowledge on the content that the questions were very difficult to answer, especially in the given time. I was hoping on the test day that perhaps the practice exams were more difficult than the real thing, but for the reading I actually found the actual test for more difficult than the practice questions. In addition, the testing format for me was terrible. I took the exam in San Francisco and they asked me if I would be willing to sit first as I was the only native speaker that day. Of course it didn't matter to me- they even mentioned I might get out earlier if I started earlier. Anyhow, they sat me down and my 60 minutes of reading started, however, prior to starting you speak out loud and adjust your microphone for 2 minutes. Little did I know that every other person would start at a staggered time and would come in talking into their microphone for 2 minutes while I was already into my reading portion. The talking and adjusting of microphones occurred for probably 45 of my 60 minutes. It was very distracting, especially with the difficult content. 

My final score on the TOEFL: R:28 L:30 S:30 W:29 - which meant if I wanted the full 20 I would need to sit for the exam again. 

I decided instead of sitting for the TOEFL again I would try another testing format. I felt that I could study no harder than I already did, and truly hated the testing format. I decided to sit for the IELTS general (make sure for your individual visa this is allowed- I believe for nursing it has to be the academic, but because I am from one of the countries where it is not required- I was only taking it for points and not my skills assessment). I wanted to have at least a month to study for the IELTS, but didn't based on the testing times I could find. I could either take it in 2.5 weeks or 3 months, so I decided to bite the bullet and take it in 2.5 weeks. I found the actual exam for the IELTS to be easier than the practice exams I had taken. For the IELTS I was most stressed about the listening section and hearing everything I needed. I was also worried about spelling due to differences in American English (color:colour, harbor:harbour, etc) and basically all other countries who speak English. However, the test was very organized. We all sat at the exact same time and started at the same time. There were no distractions and the room was silent. It was a great testing environment. Finally, for the IELTS you have to speak to a person, and not into a microphone. As a native speaker I found this more comfortable, even if the subjects felt silly and awkward. I could see for a non-native speaker though, this might feel more intimidating. 

My final score on IELTS: R:9 W:8 L:9 S:9

Hope others share their experiences too, and help other people see how the testing scenarios and tests felt. The more the better, as I'm sure there are people who loved the TOEFL and hated the IELTS. 

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I took the TOEFL 3 times and couldn’t achieve 10 points. I was getting so frustrated as well as thing money away.

My migration agent suggested the PTE platform and with one attempt I got high enough marks for 10 points and very close to getting 20 points.

In my opinion the TOEFL is marked incorrectly. It may work for some, but not for me, I just wasted £450!

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It was so tough! I've also heard the PTE is great. Lesson learned.... the TOEFL is ridiculous. 

Edited by lhumphreys

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I did the PTE-A as well. I spent a few days researching the exam structure and content, and then practiced a few of the more difficult questions. I found the E2 language site on YouTube really helpful for this.

I got 89 overall with speaking being my lowest score at 81 (oral fluency 57 - I lolled at this as I'm a native UK speaker!)

I found it really quick to take the test and get the result back, which was great compared to the OET, but you should be aware that other people speaking (or shouting in my case) next to you can be quite off-putting!

And I think it's way cheaper than the OET.

PTE-A: 29/1/18      ANMAC uploaded: 23/2/18      AHPRA application sent: 1/3/18      Uni transcripts sent: 19/3/18      AHPRA Letter in Principle: 5/7/18      ANMAC LOD: 13/8/18

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