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Complete Guide To English Language Testing For Australian Immigration

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The English Language Requirements depend on your nationality and the Visa Subclass that you are applying for.

Being test on your English and determining the level of English fluency that you are required to show is a daunting prospect for many clients. Yet don’t be disheartened

There are a few different English language tests accepted by the Department of Home Affairs.

The proficiency level you need to reach will depend on the Visa Subclass you’re applying for.

Vocational English

Required scores to establish Vocational English are as follows: 

TOEFL iBT441414
PTE Academic36363636
Cambridge (CAE)154154154154

Competent English

For most skilled visas, you will need to show at least Competent English to meet the threshold criteria. If you hold a passport from one of the following 5 countries, you can establish competent English without completing an English test:

  1. Canada
  2. New Zealand
  3. United Kingdom
  4. United States
  5. Ireland

Otherwise, you would need to complete a recognised English language test and obtain the following score:

TOEFL iBT12132118
PTE Academic50505050
Cambridge (CAE)169169169169

Competent English gives you 0 points in the Skilled Migration Points Test, but is an essential requirement to be able to lodge a skilled visa.

Proficient English

If you demonstrate proficient English, this will give you 10 points for English language ability.

Even native English speakers must undertake English language testing to obtain points for proficient English or higher.

Scores required for Proficient English are: 

TOEFL iBT24242723
PTE Academic65656565
Cambridge (CAE)185185185185

Superior English

If you demonstrate superior English, this will give the maximum of 20 points for English language ability. Minimum scores for Superior English are: 

TOEFL iBT28293026
PTE Academic79797979
Cambridge (CAE)200200200200

Functional English

If your spouse or partner has less than functional English, then you would need to pay the “English Education Charge” to cover English language tuition in applying for skilled migration.

You can show you have functional English ability by providing evidence of one of the following:

  1. Completion of a degree, higher degree, diploma or trade certificate that required at least 2 years of study in English medium
  2. Completion of all years of primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  3. Completion of at least 5 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  4. Scoring at least 4.5 averaged over the four components of the IELTS test within the 12 months before application, or during processing; or
  5. Completion in Australia of at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma in English medium.
  6. In some circumstances, functional English can be established via interview

You can also demonstrate functional English by completing an English test and scoring as follows:

Test componentAverage across test components only
PTE Academic30
Cambridge (CAE)147

Whichever test type you take, you’ll find plenty of practice exams available. We highly recommend that you spend time properly preparing and taking practice tests. By familiarising yourself with the exam format and type of questions you’re up against, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success.


Prepare for IELTS by taking these free practice tests. We recommend timing yourself and comparing your answers with the model answers supplied.

Find a test centre here.


View questions from previous tests and see how the exam is structured.

Find an exam centre near you.

Cambridge Advanced English

Find out what you’re up against by taking a mock CAE test.

You’ll need to take your test at an authorised exam centre, find a location close to you.

Occupational English Test

Visit the OET preparation portal and prepare by downloading free sample materials.

The OET can be taken every month in 35 countries. Find your closest exam centre.

PTE Academic

You’ll find a preparation resources section on the PTE Academic website.

Find your closest test centre and view exam fees.

What’s Next

If you’re using a Registered Migration Agent to manage your application, they will provide you with some handy exam tips and recommend the best test option for you.

Contact an agent at Summit Migration to provide a visa assessment and discuss the migration pathways open to you.

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