25 replies to this topic
Posted 2012-06-13 15:32:44
I have some queries regarding the TOEIC English Language Test for UK Settlement Visa for Spouses. There is a lot of information about this test on the internet but much of it is very confusing so I would appreciate your help. I'm sure that some of these questions must have been asked before but my search enquiry of this forum didn't reveal any results! Anyway the queries are :-
1. Is it true that a pass certificate is valid for 2 years?
2. The candidate has to achieve a score of 60 for Listening and 50 for Speaking but what does this actually mean. Is it 60 and 50 out of 100 i.e. a percentage or something different? I suspect it is not a percentage and, if so, what would be the maximum scores?
3. I believe there are 3 test centres in Bangkok offering 3 different types of test that are all approved. These are Pearsons, CPA and Vantage. Is CPA the only TOEIC test centre?
4. I understand that the tests also include reading and writing but these scores do not count for the spouse visa test. Reading and Listening is a separate test from Speaking and Writing and therefore there are 2 different tests taken at different times. Can there be a significant time gap between the 2 tests e.g. can Listening be taken and passed and then, say, 1 year later Speaking be taken and passed?
5. Does the TOEIC test involve using a computer and, if so, how much?
6. I am now even more confused by the changes proposed by HMG from 9th July. I quote from the UKBA website :-
"Until October 2013, applicants for settlement, including partners of British citizens and settled persons, will be required to meet the current knowledge of life and language criteria, by passing the Life in the UK test or an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course using Citizenship materials."
What does "Citizenship materials" mean? Does this mean that the TOEIC test pass at level A for Listening & Speaking will still be valid up to October 2013?
Many thanks for your help.
Posted 2012-06-13 17:28:05
Is it true that a pass certificate is valid for 2 years? yes it is vaild for 2 years
The candidate has to achieve a score of 60 for Listening and 50 for Speaking but what does this actually mean. Is it 60 and 50 out of 100 i.e. a percentage or something different? I suspect it is not a percentage and, if so, what would be the maximum scores? Speaking is out of 100 Listening I am sure was out of 500
I think so but please check
Listening is all done by Listening to a radio and write your answers Speaking and writing is done on a computer
yes you can have a gap between tests
I hope this helps
Posted 2012-06-13 18:29:13
This refers to the requirement for the in UK application for settlement, i.e. Indefinite Leave to Remain, which she will make after she has been resident in the UK for at least 24 months. It is not needed for the initial 27 month visa application.
Posted 2012-06-14 14:47:35
Many thanks for your responses. This is of great help. A couple of follow-up points :-
MaprangHolmes - Actually I think both Listening & Speaking is out of 500. If you look at the UKBA List of Approved Testers the TOEIC pass at C1 level (the highest) is Listening 490 and Reading 455. Can anyone confirm this?
7by7 - Actually it is not clear to me in the wording of the proposals that this just refers to ILR. It just says "applicants for settlement" which I thought included those applying for a settlement visa. Maybe i am just not up to speed on how HMG word these things and it would be great if you are right as it would mean that there are no proposed changes to the English Language Test for a settlement visa. Sorry to be pedantic but are you sure that it only refers to ILR?
Posted 2012-06-14 19:21:22
It is confusing, but when the UKBA say settlement they mean ILR.
Settling in the UK
The knowledge of life and language criteria can only be satisfied inside the UK, whether one takes the test or a course.
Posted 2012-06-15 14:07:11
my partner recently did the TOEIC exams at CPA on Asoke. To answer your questions :
1) The test is valid for 2 years for UKBA purposes
2) They are not percentages. I think the Listening and Reading exams have a maximum score of 495 each and the Speaking and Writing 200 each. Search for TOEIC on Wiki for an explanation. The CPA centre has leaflets explaining the exam format also.
3) CPA at BB Building Asoke are the only TOEIC centre in Bangkok. They have a centre in Chiang Mai also I believe.
4) The Listening and Reading exams can be taken every day except Sunday and cost Bt 1,500. The Speaking and Writing are monthly and cost Bt 3,500. You can sit them whenever you feel ready. You are correct in that the scores for Reading and Writing are irrelevant for the visa application.
5) I think the Writing test answers are typed using a computer. Reading and Speaking questions are read on a computer also I think.
6) My understanding is that you still only need an A1 pass to get the initial visa to enter. After the probationary period (soon to be 5 years) you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. To be granted it you need to pass the TOEIC at the equivalent of B1 (among other requirements).
To be honest the A1 level is not that difficult language wise. My partner is not exactly fluent but she got a B1 pass on the speaking and listening parts. BB Building has some companies that coach for the exam.
What will trip a lot of people up is the exam format. Best thing to do is buy a book (we got from Kinokuniya) and download some exam questions, then just practice them together.
Posted 2012-06-15 16:52:01
Many thanks to everyone for their very helpful replies. It's a relief to know that the new immigration proposals (set for July 9th) has no effect on the current English Language Test for settlement visa applications.
I just have a couple of things niggling me about this. One is that although the applicant doesnt need to pass Reading & Writing they surely must know some of this to be able to complete the test. Also the level of knowledge on using computers is a slight concern as my fiancee doesnt use them.
Think I might try and go to see CPA in Bangkok and discuss it with them and pick up the leaflet.
Once again, thanks guys
Posted 2012-06-16 06:30:32
Sorry just a quick quote both speaking and writing are out of 200 but as you only need speaking it does not matter about writing.
Here are the speaking levels they go up to 8
level 1 = 30
level 2 = 50
level 3 = 70
level 4 = 100
level 5 = 120
level 6 = 150
level 7 = 180
level 8 = 200
Posted 2012-07-03 14:31:00
I visited both Vantage (BULATS test) and CPA (TOEIC test) the other day in Bangkok and this is my thoughts about them :-
1. BULATS - Kevin at Vantage was very helpful and spent some time with me and my thai fiancee. He even let her do a little demo on the computer. However my overall impressions are that a lot of the questions are business oriented e.g. questions about organising a conference etc, also there seems to be more computer usage than the TOEIC test. The whole test is taken on 1 day and costs B7,000. Vantage also offer a 3-day course prior to the test for an additional B8,000 but as Kevin told me this is not really about teaching English but more about teaching the best strategy to pass the test and use the computer.
2. TOEIC - again very helpful. Thai lady Tipapon explained the procedures. Seemed to be more based on day-to -day English rather than business. Also less computer usage - candidates sit together in a room and listen to CDs and answer questions by circling multiple choice answers rather than use a mouse to click on answers as with BULATS. The tests are on 2 separate days and cost B5000. They do not offer any pre-test tuition.
We have decided to take the TOEIC test. CPA gave us some leaflets which I took away and read. I have some interesting points and queries after studying these leaflets :-
1. Listening - candidates have to achieve a score of 60 out of 495 for an A1 pass (this equates to 12% only) - the questions are multiple choice answers with 3 or 4 choices. Therefore it seems to me that even if the candidate has no knowledge of English at all but just purely guesses each answer by circling 1 of A, B, C or D then under the law of averages they would get at least 25% i.e. twice the pass mark!!! Am I missing something here because it just sounds too easy - can anyone comment on this?
Note : There are some parts of this test that require the candidate to read even though it is in the Listening section....a little unfair in that Reading is not required to be passed........but the answers can be guessed if the candidate doesn't read English.
2. Speaking - need to achieve 50 out of 200 (ie 25% - a lot higher percentage than Listening). Questions 1 & 2 the candidate needs to read a text aloud that is on a screen .... again a big problem if the candidate can't read English and in this case there is no multiple choice answers. Also Questions 7-9 involve answering questions from information given on a screen ...once again requiring reading with no multiple choice answers.
Seems to me that Speaking is more difficult to pass than Listening. I would really appreciate any comments from you guys about this.
Posted 2012-07-03 17:27:02
My wife did the bulats tests. The test was all done on computer. Although the questions are generally on business, it is a good test to do. My wife passed at B2 level on listening and speaking, A2 level on reading and writing.
Your fiance or wife has to pass overall at A1 level. Which is a score of ten.
Each test is out of a 100:
10-19 - A1
20-29 - A2
30-39 - A3
40-49 - B1
People who hardly speak English from issan pass the test. It is a basic knowledge of the English Language.
Reading my post through, my English is terrible unsure wether I would pass
Posted 2012-07-03 19:27:33
BULATS stands for the Business Language Testing Service, so the questions will be business orientated.
However, if the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) speaking test involves reading from a screen and you are concerned about her ability to do this, then I'd go for the BULATS test.
A trawl through past posts and topics on this will show that many members' partners have taken the BULATS test and scored high enough in speaking and listening to satisfy the requirement for a visa.
Posted 2012-07-04 14:05:04
Apparently TOEIC has an 80% pass rate.
Regarding having to read to do Listening & Speaking I think this is also required to some extent in the BULATS test.
Can I ask again - can anyone fault my logic that by purely guessing in the Speaking test a candidate would likely achieve twice the pass mark?
Posted 2012-07-04 19:23:35
I have never taken the test, nor has anyone I know as my wife and our Thai friends in the UK all got their visas before this became a requirement.
However, my opinion is that guessing in any test is always fraught with risk.
Having said that, A1 is a very basic level. If your fiance can converse with you in English, even very basic English, she should be able to pass speaking and listening.
Posted 2012-07-16 18:28:18
Well she got her results for Listening & Reading today. She got 110 for Listening (A2 pass) and 90 for Reading. The score card is not very explicit and doesnt tell us that she passed (in fact she thought she had failed and told me that on the phone!). I know the TOEIC test is not just used for UK spouse visas but it would be nice if CPA put an explanatory letter with the score report to save confusion. I really wonder if HMG really appreciate the difficulties in the way these language tests are conducted and the difficulty in getting information about them. I broadly agree with a language requirement but why should someone have to take reading and writing when it is NOT required? Why cant some language exam body design a test for Listening & Speaking only?
Anyway she passed with a mixture of knowledge and guessing (so it is good to guess because you get no deductions for a wrong answer and you get nothing for failing to answer). I still reiterate what I said before - you should be able to pass easily with absolutely no knowledge of English and just guess A,B,C or D for each question. Kind of defeats the whole object doesn't it?
Anyone know if she will be entitled to a certificate for the marks the achieved?
Next is Speaking (and Writing) which appears to be harder to pass at A1.
Posted 2012-07-17 14:39:56
Unless she passes reading and writing she wont get a certificate.
However, Visa Plus has received confirmation that as long as the required level is obtained in speaking and listening this does not matter.
The UKBA do not conduct the tests themselves, and it is unfortunate that all the approved test providers in Thailand insist on candidates taking all four elements when only speaking and listening are required for settlement.
Their argument being most of their clients require all four, for a student or work visa, and it would be uneconomical to provide separate speaking and listening tests just for the minority who don't also need reading and writing.
Not condoning this practice; just attempting to explain it.
Posted 2012-07-17 15:05:12
Thanks 7by7. Sorry to be cynical but I think taking all 4 elements is just a way of making more money out of a captive market. I say this because Kevin at Bulats told me 98% of candidates are there for settlement visa!
Posted 2012-07-17 19:36:40
I share your cynicism.
As I see it the test providers in Thailand could easily provide just a speaking and listening test, but they choose not to.
Posted 2012-08-03 15:36:56
The UKBA cut down its Approved Test Provider (ATP) list in April of 2011. The wanted to use major test companies that were offered tests in more than 40 countries. They also wanted to use only tests that had major reseach facilties behind them and that again meant major global test providers.
None of the three ATPs that offer tests in Thailand have a separate test for just the Settlement visa. Thailand, land of hot & cold running women, is agurably one of the biggest markets for Settlement visa, but even here the UKBA only typically issue some 2,000 to 2,500 of these visa each year. Meanwhile the market segments of for Tiered visas - work and student visas - can run into the hundreds of thousands.
It hardly makes a case for a special 'two skill' only visa for Settlement visas.
So yeah, evey major testing company has chosen no to...for market reasons.
Posted 2012-08-03 15:55:59
It seems that your decision making process resting soley on what you percieve would be the easiet test for you partner to pass.
That's understandable, but a bit myopic.
Unlike TOEIC, the BULATS Reading & Listening test is computer-adaptive. According to Wikipedia, "An adaptive test can typically be shortened by 50% and still maintain a higher level of precison than a fixed version...Test-takers do not waste their time attempting items that are too hard or trivially easy." (http://en.wikipedia....r-adaptive_test)
In other words, BULATS focuses in more clearlly to a test-takers individuall level and, as a result, it's more accurate than TOEIC. (Indeed, many are surprise to learn that TOEICis an English langange proficiency test that was made in Japan.)
Perhaps many in the short term are just looking to get an A1 pass to show the UKBA. However, the Computer-Adaptive model has significantly greater "benchmarking" capabilities. By that I mean you partner can see her Englsih proficiency stregths and weakness more clearly. That's important for targeting future study to 1). obtain a B1 level at the ILR stage and 2.) even greater proficicency so you can communicate better with her and so she can better fit into British culture.
Posted 2012-09-19 13:59:26
Thought I'd give you an update and share my thoughts about this process.
Well she passed after switching to BULATS after failing TOEIC - Thai Diamond you are right in retrospect my decision was myopic and we should have gone with BULATS first. We did visit both companies before deciding and my fiancee felt a little more comfortable at TOEIC because more Thai people working there and they were able to give us brochures whereas BULATS didn't.
At TOEIC she initially passed Listening (A2) then took Speaking at a later date. TOEIC were extremely bureaucratic with payment for the Speaking test. For Listening we paid by cash on the day but Speaking I had to pay in advance by bank transfer and then have to fax a copy to them of the transfer receipt! Also we tried to change the appointment time - they were running 4 tests on the same day so a switch was easy - then they said that will be one thousand baht fee for changing! I told them that they were being ridiculous! The Speaking test itself was a zoo - so many people all speaking at the same time which was off-putting. Also she was not "miked up" properly for the first couple of questions - her microphone had slipped out of position until she realised - I think this was the reason she failed because she got 40 out of 200 and one comment made by the examiner was "unintelligible answers". TOEIC only run Speaking tests once a month and it has to be sent to USA for marking which takes a further 3 weeks. Therefore a failure can mean a delay of at least 2 months before you take the test again.
Went to BULATS and took their tuition and test package for B14,950. Very good personal service and she got a B1 for Listening and A2 for Speaking. They really made an effort to make sure she was comfortable about everything and that she passed. BULATS test every week and all results are available in a few days.
My overall thoughts about it - take BULATS not TOEIC. I have spent more than B20,000 + numerous trips to Bangkok on this whole process for the sake of satisfying UKBA criteria for a visa. It is all very well to say immigrants should speak English (which they should) but we werent so concerned about things like that when we moved millions of labourers from one country to another for the sake of the British Empire! There are a huge number of practical difficulties with these tests - appalling lack of information about the tests, confusion about what the scores actually mean and differences between testers, not enough test centres and only in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, no tailor-made tests, having to read questions to pass Speaking when Reading is not required to be passed.
Hope future candidates find this useful.
Posted 2012-09-21 13:03:43
Actually I didnt say I'd spent B20k on TOEIC but the whole thing i.e. :-
BULATS Tuition 8000
BULATS Test 7000
Plus numerous other ad hoc expenses probably making it about B25,000 in total.
However, you are right in that I FEEL ripped off by the whole dam_n process!
Posted 2012-10-03 05:18:42
durhamboy & others thankyou for creating this post.
I was going to enrole my girlfriend for the PTE test as I was unsure of which test would be the best suited. Although her spoken english is good, she cant read or write for beans!
After receiving the PTE pratice book and CD-Rom (isbn 978-988-00-3053-6) even I had difficulty with the sample questions and found it was total unsuited if you are trying for A1 standard.
I was put off by the sample Bulats listening test as you mentioned requires some reading, but from what everyone has said she should be fine with this one.
Posted 2012-10-03 12:17:51
Is PTE Pearsons?
BULATS has more business like questions than TOEIC but one of the main BULATS selling points is that the questions are computer adaptive which means as the candidate progressively gets answers wrong the questions get progressively easier until the candidates ability level matches the questions. Also with regard to Speaking for some reason the A1 pass with Bulats is only about 10% whereas with TOEIC it is 25% - just shows what a shambles this whole thing is really!
Bulats is slightly more expensive but worth it in my opinion - I believe most visa agents recommend Bulats to their clients.
Posted 2012-11-02 20:46:57
Just to clarify:
To attain an A1 level of English the following scores are required from a TOEIC examination:
Listening - 60
Speaking - 50
On my wife's official score report it doesnt say where she took the test.
Is the official score report enough or will something stating where the test was taken be required when applying for a visa?