When you need to describe your level of English, precision is essential. Everyday terms like “beginner” and “fluent” don’t mean the same things to everyone. While those terms are fine in conversation, in a professional or academic setting, they just don’t make the cut.
Signing up to take a standardized English test is the other extreme. Sure, you can pay 200$ and spend 4 hours taking the TOEFL, but do you really have the energy? Many of these standardized tests are very academic, and the effort involved in taking them is prohibitive, especially if you want to assess yourself every year or two.
Fortunately, there’s a third way. Using free English self-assessment tools can give you an accurate measure of your level of English without all the hassle of a standardized test. Self-assessment means you test yourself. There’s nobody checking to see if you use a dictionary or ask a friend for help, but there’s no point cheating either, since you’re mainly doing the assessment for yourself anyway.
There are two convenient ways to do English self-assessment:
- Use the official self-assessment grids from the Council of Europe if you want to know your English level on the CEFR scale, which is standard in academic circles across Europe. Download the one in your native language. Read each box and choose what best describes what you can currently do in English for each skill. The tricky part here is being honest about what you really can do.
- Take a free English test. There’s no other open-access English self-assessment test that’s anywhere near as reliable as this one – the EF Standard English test (EF SET). The EF SET is currently the only standardized English test that measures all skill levels, beginner to proficient, in alignment with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The “Quick English Check” is a 15 minute quiz which only provides a general estimate or indicator of your English level. That’s not precise enough for a CV, but if you just want a snapshot of your skills, it may be right for you. The standard, 50-minute EF SET Certificate gives you a much more precise score with the added bonus of offering to publish a Certificate URL on your LinkedIn profile. Lastly, EF SET Certificate Plus takes 2 hours to complete and is proven to be as reliable as the TOEFL or IELTS, without the associated cost of sitting the exam. It’s perfect for preparing for a standardized exam like these.
English self-assessment is a free way to measure and describe your English skills using a professional, standardized scale. Whatever your reasons for needing to describe your English ability precisely, self-assessment is the most cost-effective solution. Using the EF SET, you can also certify your English level and put it on your CV.