7 things you need to know about the Oxford Test of English

blog imageIf you’re thinking of taking an English language test, life can be confusing! There are so many tests out there and you know what? Most of them are really good tests designed by assessment experts whose missions are to provide excellent English language testing experiences. However, they are all slightly different and it’s in those differences that you might find the test that’s most suitable for you. In this blog, I’m going to share with you 7 things you need to know before taking the Oxford Test of English.

  1. It’s online only

English language tests are either on paper or online. Your choice here comes down to personal preference. Online tests are great because you don’t have to worry about not being able to hear the audio recording, or your handwriting not being very legible, or the stress of speaking to a stranger. Online tests also have some additional benefits to help keep your mind at ease during these challenging times, like not having to worry about coming into close contact with the Speaking examiner, and it being easier for the Test Centre to arrange smaller sessions. The registration time is also shorter (exam papers don’t need to be sent out) and you get results faster than many paper-based tests!

  1. It’s adaptive

When choosing which proficiency test to take, you can choose to do a linear test or an adaptive test. A linear test is one where every person gets the same questions at the same time, regardless of their performance. OUP prefers to provide adaptive assessments because we think they provide a better test-taking experience, with the questions getting harder or easier depending on your answers, so the test is constantly adapting to your ability. To find out more about the adaptive nature of the test, read our blog posts about how it feels to take the Reading and Listening modules:

Online vs. Traditional Proficiency Tests: Reading

Online vs. Traditional Proficiency Tests: Listening

  1. The Speaking and Writing parts are marked by people

For Writing and Speaking modules, some online exams are marked by people, while some online exams are marked by machines. With the Oxford Test of English, our focus is on communicative competence, so we believe the best way to assess this right now with the technology options available is via trained human assessors. If you’re interested in learning more about the types of questions you will face when you sit these modules, check out these blog posts:

Online vs. Traditional Proficiency Tests: Speaking

Online vs. Traditional Proficiency Tests: Writing

  1. It’s modular

This bit is really important for you and your wallet! Most English language tests cover four skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening) and so does the Oxford Test of English. However, we can all have a bad day and what happens if you get good marks in everything except Speaking? Usually, you have to take (and pay for!) the whole test again! With the Oxford Test of English, however; you can retake the Speaking module and ONLY pay for the speaking module. In fact, you can take and retake any module or combinations of modules. We’ll then put your best score for each module attempt on your certificate.

  1. You get extra information about results

Results in English language exams often show just the level (e.g. A2). When you sit the Oxford Test of English, you get a report card for each module taken and then everyone who takes all four modules receives a certificate. Here, we try to give a bit more detail, in a handy graph which reveals more information about your performance. The certificate also shows the score and CEFR level for each module, as well as the overall score and CEFR level for the whole test.

  1. Your results are certified by the University of Oxford

Not all English language exams provide certification so if you need a certificate, choose carefully. We’re really proud that the Oxford Test of English is certified by the University of Oxford so as well as being a great test to take, it makes a great addition to your resume. What’s more, the certificate is recognised by universities and employers around the world.

  1. It’s affordable

Our mission is to make assessment available to as many people as possible, so it’s important for us that our assessment options are more affordable than many others on the market. We don’t think it’s fair that an English language exam should cost more than the monthly salary in some countries! Find out more about how much it costs to take the Oxford Test of English from your local Approved Test Centre.

So there you have it – 7 things about the Oxford Test of English that make it different from other English tests.

If you’d like to learn even more about the test, visit our website or sign up to our newsletter!


Sarah Rogerson is Director of Assessment at Oxford University Press. She has worked in English language teaching and assessment for 20 years and is passionate about education for all and digital innovation in ELT. Sarah is really excited about the Oxford Test of English and how well it caters to the 21st-century student.

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and learners top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help people around the world to learn English.

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