English Language Entry Requirements

IELTS Indicator test is acceptable – applies to Onshore AND Offshore students

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many English language proficiency testing centres are currently closed. This means that for many international students, the online form of the tests may be the only option available to them for some time.

To address this situation, the online form of the tests listed in the Table to Rule 18 can be used as evidence of English language proficiency for international students enrolling in New Zealand and offshore until the end of 2020.

In addition to checking that online test certificates are genuine, providers may need to validate the test results in another way, such as a phone or Zoom interview.


Some international students may have had to delay starting their studies in New Zealand as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. If you have made an offer of a place to an international student, and that student’s English language proficiency result was valid at the time of the offer, the student does not need to sit another proficiency test if their result expires before their deferred start date, providing the deferred enrolment is within twelve months.

Students will meet the English language proficiency requirements for their chosen qualification providing they have attained the required levels in the English language assessments listed below within two years prior to the date of application.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) sets English language entry requirements for international students through the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2013 and the Training Scheme Rules 2012.

The requirements place responsibility on providers to ensure international students they enrol have the appropriate level of English proficiency for the level at which they intend to study.

Providers must maintain evidence that international students possess the appropriate level of English proficiency as part of their enrolment records for at least two years from the date of enrolment.

NZQA has developed guidance to assist providers in applying the English language requirements: English language entry requirements for international students.


Internationally Recognised English Proficiency Outcomes for International Students

Certificate at Level 3

IELTS Test 2   General or Academic score of 5 with no band score lower than 5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (pBT) where the test was carried out prior to 1 October 2017   Score of 500 (with an essay score of 4 TWE)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)   Score of 35 (with a writing score of 14)
Cambridge English Examinations   B2 First or B2 First for Schools with a score of 154. No less than 154 in each skill
OET   Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL 3
a) Expiring
b) Current
  a) Level 3 (General) or (Workplace)
b) Level 3 (General)
Pearson Test of English (Academic)   PTE (Academic) score of 36 with no band score lower than 36
LanguageCert   B1 Achiever IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE   ISE I with no less than distinction in any band

Certificate at Level 4

IELTS Test 2   General or Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (pBT) where the test was carried out prior to 1 October 2017   Score of 530 (with an essay score of 4.5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)   Score of 46 (with a writing score of 14)
Cambridge English Examinations   B2 First or B2 First for schools with a score of 162. No less than 154 in each skill
OET   Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL 3
a) Expiring
b) Current
  a) Level 3 (Academic)
b) Level 3 (Applied)
Pearson Test of English (Academic)   PTE (Academic) score of 42 with no band score lower than 36
LanguageCert   B2 Communicator IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE   ISE II with no less than pass in any band

Certificate or Diploma at Level 5

IELTS Test 2   Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (pBT) where the test was carried out prior to 1 October 2017   Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)   Score of 46 (with a writing score of 14)
Cambridge English Examinations   B2 First or B2 First for schools with a score of 162. No less than 154 in each skill
OET   Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL 3
a) Expiring
b) Current
  a) Level 4 (General) or (Workplace)
b) Level 4 (General) or (Employment)
Pearson Test of English (Academic)   PTE (Academic) score of 42 with no band score lower than 36
LanguageCert   B2 Communicator IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE   ISE II with no less than merit in any band

Certificate or Diploma at Level 6
Diploma or Degree at Level 7
Graduate Certificate or Diploma at Level 7

IELTS Test 2   Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5
TOEFL Paper-based Test (pBT) where the test was carried out prior to 1 October 2017   Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)   Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)
Cambridge English Examinations   B2 First, or B2 First for schools, or C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill
OET   Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL 3
a) Expiring
b) Current
  a) Level 4 (Academic)
b) Level 4 (Academic)
Pearson Test of English (Academic)   PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42
LanguageCert   C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE   ISE II with no less than distinction in any band

Post-graduate Diploma or Post-graduate Certificate at Level 8
Bachelor Honours Degree at Level 8
Master’s Degree at Level 9
Doctoral Degree at Level 10

IELTS Test 2   Academic score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6
TOEFL Paper-based Test (pBT) where the test was carried out prior to 1 October 2017   Score of 590 (with an essay score 5.5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)   Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)
Cambridge English Examinations   C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill;
OET   Minimum of Grade C+ or 300 in all sub-tests
NZCEL 3
a) Expiring
b) Current
  a) Level 5 (Academic) or (Professional)
b) Level 5
Pearson Test of English (Academic)   PTE (Academic) score of 58 with no band score lower than 50
LanguageCert   C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE   ISE III with no less than pass in any band

Note 1 The listed outcomes represent the minimum scores or grades for each test or qualification that qualify a student for enrolment at each programme level. Students with higher scores or grades than required for a particular programme level may still enrol at that level. Where the entry requirements for a programme are for a higher English proficiency outcome than is listed in the relevant row of the Table for the programme level in which the student is being enrolled, the student must meet that higher level.

Note 2  IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).

Note 3  New versions of some NZCEL qualifications, and in some cases new qualifications, were published on 13 June 2017. These are intended to replace pre-existing versions and qualifications, which have been given expiring status until discontinued on 31 December 2019.