If English is important for your career, it may be a good idea to take an exam that leads to a recognised qualification. It is never enough to write on your CV that you are fluent in English, recruiters often won’t have the time to verify this, especially when there are too many candidates to interview. A CV with proof of your English ability could help you go through to the next stage – the interview.
What Qualifications are available to me in France?
The most popular exam, both for learners and recruiters, is the TOEIC (test of English for international communication). An American company called ETS created this test, and administers testing around the world.
The TOEIC is test of comprehension – listening and reading. Candidates have to listen to recordings and read short texts and answer related questions in the form of a multiple choice. Each question is carefully assessed according to its difficulty, so different questions earn different points. Watch out for trick questions, as they are very common in the TOEIC. For example, you might be asked to choose a sentence that describes a photograph in your test book. Image the photograph is showing a group of business people having a meeting.
Be very observant. On the table there is a glass of water. One of the possible answers could be, ‘the man is wearing glasses’. This is a trap, because you might be panicked into thinking that because the sentence used the word ‘glass’ it must be the right answer.
Your TOEIC result is your total of a maiximum 990 points. Put your score on your CV – “TOEIC, 750 points” If you acheive a score of 600 or more, a recruiter will probably think your English is good enough to deal with English speaking customers and colleagues, and that you could happily travel to English-speaking countries. If you score less than 400, it’s probably better to study some more, take the test again and hope for a better score to put on your CV.
There is now an additional TOEIC test which evaluates your spoken English.
There is a test for lower level students called ‘TOEIC Bridge’. If you are reading this article with no difficulty, then it’s not for you, your level is good enough for the real TOEIC. TOEIC Bridge is useful for those who need English occasionally, and in a limited way, like secretaries, receptionists or hotel staff. It shows that you can get by when necessary.
Another exam created and run by ETS is the TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language). Many are confused about the difference between the TOEFL and the TOEIC. It’s quite simple though: if you want a recognised qualification to help you get a job, take the TOEIC. If you want to study in America, take the TOEFL. Non-native speakers of English are required to show that they will be able to follow the courses before being given permission to study in American Universities. The TOEFL is the most common way to do this.
For more information about these exams visit the ETS website: