In today’s globalised world, English language examinations can open doors to young people wishing to study or work in Cyprus and abroad. The vast choice of examinations available can, however, leave students puzzled and unable to decide which qualification will benefit them most in terms of reaching their goals.
IELTS is an English language qualification recognised by over 9,000 organisations worldwide. In Cyprus, thousands of candidates take the exam each year. Having the option of two modules, the Academic or General Training module, candidates are tested in four skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking. Results are announced according to the IELTS band score scale, where ‘9’ is the highest and represents an expert user.
The IELTS Academic module is designed for students who wish to study in English taught higher education institutions at undergraduate or postgraduate levels as well as for those seeking professional registration. The IELTS General Training module is designed for EU citizens who wish to train or study at below degree level or migrate to an English-speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK) although it is best to check with the countries’ authorities before taking an exam for immigration purposes.
The IELTS qualification is valid for two years so it is important that candidates take the examination close to the date of when they are going to provide it.
Another very popular English language qualification in Cyprus is the IGCSE or International GCSE English as a Second language which is also widely recognised in the academic and business world as well as the civil service in Cyprus. The qualification does not expire, and candidates receiving a C grade or above confirm an English language competency level equivalent to B2 on The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. However, those applying to study in the UK via UCAS will find one that is over five years is counted as no longer valid.
Apart from the English language examinations, students who wish to study abroad may also consider taking A levels or International A levels. These exams are subject-based, requiring about two years of preparation. In Cyprus the most popular A level and International A level exam is Mathematics. A levels or International A levels are equally recognised and can provide a competitive advantage to students hoping to receive an offer from the university of their choice. A levels and International A levels also prepare students for their first year of study by covering the curriculum needed for the specific subject.
Parents and students should be informed of the various examinations available as early as possible to prepare accordingly. Early preparation avoids stress during the last months of study and better results for students to succeed in reaching their goals.
More information can be found at the British Council where a wide range of exams is administered, from English tests to school and business qualifications in more than 90 countries worldwide.