Off topic: TOEFL c/o Proficiency
Thread poster: Adriana Esposito

Adriana Esposito  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
Member (2014)
English to Italian
+ ...
May 27, 2005

I have a young relative who just graduated and now is planning to go to U.K. and learn some English. He asked me what kind of classes he should go for, whether to try to get his TOEFL or rather the Cambridge certificates.
His aim is, basically, to enrich his experience and make his C.V. more appealing for future employers!
What would you suggest?
Thanks in advance

[Edited at 2005-05-27 09:35]


Cristina Mazzucchelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
English to Italian
+ ...
Ielts May 27, 2005

Dear Adriana,
I would suggest your relative to take some information about the Ielts also. It is another examination, equivalent to the TOEFL but for the UK & Australia Education systems, that helps you having an international acknowledgement for your English Language.

There are two modules for the Ielts, either General or Academic (if you need it to enter a University in a foreign country and you are not an Enlish mother tongue - in fact I'm taking it for this reason!)and I know that most Universities in the UK offer free or pretty cheap courses to prepare for the Ielts.

I'm about to take the examination in Milan...I'll be able to tell you something more about it in a couple of weeks...Wish me good luckicon_smile.gif !

And wish good luck to your young relative, too!icon_smile.gif



Tatiana Nefyodova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:43
English to Russian
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as for TOEFL May 27, 2005

By the way, whish of the Englishes does he need?

I'm afraid TOEFL is only necesary to enter universities in the USA (and, maybe, Canada). Morover, it is valid for a very short period of time (12 months or so). TOEFL tests your preparation level for TOEFL and not your knowledge of English. And it deals with American English.

As far as I know, ESOL Pitman test your level of British English, it is for life and can be used to enter universities in GB (beginning with the Upper-Intermediate level). It is also useful when you are applying for a job because it checks your overall ability to understand and communicate in English.


cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
Spanish to English
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Cambridge and TOEFL - Different types of exams May 27, 2005

Adriana Esposito wrote:

He asked me what kind of classes he should go for, whether to try to get his TOEFL or rather the Cambridge certificates.

I taught and prepared students to take both the Cambridge suite of exams and TOEFL for fifteen years, but I don`t have a lot of time to answer right now, so in a nutshell...

What you should bear in mind with TOEFL is that it is an exam designed to assess the 'passive' language ability of those who sit it with a view to them understanding Engilsh in order to attend (usually) university/ do a post grad course at an American or British institution. i.e. can they understand enough English to attend classes and follow course work.
As a general rule the marks obtained are 'valid' for a short period of time (a year or maybe two), after that you have to take the exam again. This is the reason that it is usually taken just before it is needed. As a general rule there is no oral exam - although I believe that in the States there is a possibility of taking some sort of spoken test...

Cambridge exams require candidates to work on all aspects of language: reading, writing, grammar, listening and speaking. Except in very rare cases, the ability of successful candidates is similar in all aspects of language (for example, it is possible to pass the exam if your spoken English is not as good as your other skills, but you would have to achieve excellent marks on all of the other papers...)

A quick answer to your question, in my opinion, is that Cambrige Advanced or Proficiency looks more impressive on a CV than TOEFL, but if you need to take an exam quickly to 'prove' your understanding, it is easier to get someone 'up to scratch' and score higher results on TOEFL by 'cramming'.

I have to go now, but I'll track this quesiton and if there is anything you'd like to ask, you can do so here or to my e-mailicon_cool.gif


Adriana Esposito  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
Member (2014)
English to Italian
+ ...
Very clear answer May 27, 2005

Thank you very much for your quick but extremely clear reply. A piece of advice from somebody with direct experience is absolutely the best. Thanks thanks thanksicon_eek.gif)


Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:43
Member (2004)
German to English
Cambridge exams May 27, 2005

The Cambridge suite of exams has various levels going from pre-intermediate level upwards. Proficiency is the top exam and is extremely hard. The student could start at a lower level, e.g. First Certificate or even PET.

Here's the site:

In my opinion Advanced is an excellent qualification, I'd only recommend Proficiency for people who intend to teach Engish or translate from English.



Domenica Grangiotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
English to Italian
+ ...
Proficiency May 27, 2005

Hallo, Adriana
If he graduated, he may have taken PET and/or FCE already (some universities - even scuole superiori - feature them now). In this case working on to Advanced and Proficiency is the best choice.
In my opinion, one is never "too proficient" in a language and although I admit the CPE is a very hard exam it's worth the effort whatever career your relative intends to pursue. A good account with excellent English skills would be an asset for any company and this is just one example.

Have a great weekend


Local time: 03:43
To be frank May 27, 2005

I can't see any differences between TOEFL and Proficiency.
Both are fully recognised for the admission to British universities, and both are based on writing, listening, reading,and grammar skills.
I teach many foreign students who have been admitted by getting either TOEFL or CPE... It depends on the final score, obviously...but I don't know the score required to be admitted.
Everyday I read paper in which the students write "Colour" or "Color" and use or don't use the splitted know, nobody pays attention to such details.
Good luck.
I forgot....If you need, I can ask for the required score.
Yopu can also get in touch by email.

[Edited at 2005-05-27 16:01]

[Edited at 2005-05-27 16:01]

[Edited at 2005-05-27 16:02]


Izabela Szczypka  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
English to Polish
+ ...
Depends what he needs the certificate for May 27, 2005

I teach for a different suite of examinations (LCCI English for Business, i.e. Business English writing plus an optional oral component) but when asked for advice on General English certificates, I always advise Cambridge, not TOEFL.
This is just because the employers have been familiar with Cambridge certificates for a long time and can tell an excellent level (like CPE) at a glance, while they do not understand TOEFL scoring and get suspicious. (Is it a good or poor result?)

If he's seeking to improve his CV, I have one advice - whatever exam he takes, the result should be evident at a glance. Everybody understands wording like Advanced or Proficient, some bosses know what Level 3 or 4 means, but scores ... they are good only when the full scale is given on the same certificate. TOEFL score of 700 (excellent!) may make no impression at all if the prospective boss is uninformed, but Advanced/Proficient is always impressive.

And obviously a validity period is important as well - who likes re-taking an exam every 2-3 years?


Local time: 04:43
English to French
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IELTS May 27, 2005

And what is best ? IELTS academic or Cambridge Proficiency ?


Fredrik Nowacki  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:43
English to Swedish
+ ...
Does this help? Jan 8, 2009

According to wikipedia, the CPE is as good as a IELTS 7.5, whatever that figure means.


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