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General Information

The EF SET is a suite of free, online language tests designed to meet the high technical standards as the other standardized tests in the field, such as the TOEFL or IELTS.

With the EF SET, we set out to challenge the status quo – to build a testing solution that not only provides reliable measurement, but is also affordable, simple to use, and accessible. When it was launched in 2015, it was the world’s first completely free standardized English test for learners of all levels, from beginner to advanced.

With completion of our 2 skill EF SET (reading & listening) or our 4 skill EF SET (reading, listening, speaking, writing) you will receive a score for each skill and an official EF SET Certificate. You can add your personalized URL to your LinkedIn profile or include it on your CV. Our score scale, based on the CEFR, is internationally recognized - making it easy for you to share your results and prove your English learning achievements.

We also offer a 15-minute English quiz which is a fast way for you to start with in getting an estimate of your English proficiency. The quiz does not deliver any certification.

The EF SET test suite also includes exams in other languages, but these are not currently offered to individual test takers via this site. They are only available to corporate clients of EF who are testing larger groups.

The EF SET was created by EF Education First with a team of language testing experts. Our advisory team has extensive experience in large-scale, standardized language assessment, drawing from previous work on TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC for other organizations such as Educational Testing Service (ETS) and The College Board.

Chief among these have been Lyle Bachman (UCLA) , author of Language Assessment in Practice (Oxford 2010), the initial design consultant; Ric Luecht and John Willse of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, the psychometric consultants and data scientists; and Mari Pearlman (Pearlman Education Group), the lead test development and operations consultant. Nathan Carr and Yoko Ameriks have served as language assessment experts.

We mean that there is empirical evidence of the reliability of the score as well as the quality of the test design and delivery process.

Expensive, high-stakes tests that report a score that may have life-changing consequences for the test taker – such as TOEFL and IELTS for college admissions, immigration, or employment – must be able to support the scores with empirical evidence.

While the EF SET reports scores only to the individual test taker, it has been designed and built to meet all of the quality standards of certification English tests, and there is public documentation to support this claim.

EF’s mission is to "Open the world through education." We believe that good education can break down barriers of language, culture and geography.

As one of the world’s largest private education institutions with over 50 years of experience, EF has been at the forefront of innovation in language training. As online education and personalized learning content continues to become more sophisticated and increasingly more accessible, so is the need for students everywhere to accurately measure and assess their progress and achievements.

Regardless of how you are learning a language – online, with a friend, in school or all of the above – we believe that the EF SET will fundamentally improve your learning journey.

With the launch of the EF SET, EF is also looking forward to more open discussions about the role of assessment in education, the future of personalized learning and the use of technology in classrooms.

The EF SET is free because we want as many people to benefit from this test as possible. The design and development of EF SET borrowed from best practices in software engineering and manufacturing practices to significantly reduce development costs. The EF SET is also delivered online with automated scoring, making it possible for EF to offer this powerful tool for free to students and professionals who need to certify their English.

There are currently three tests available on the EF SET website. The EF SET 4 skill test evaluates reading and listening comprehension as well as speaking and writing skills using the power of AI. The EF SET 2 skill test evaluates only reading and listening comprehension. Both of these tests are certifying exams. The skills which you have tested as well as your scores are presented clearly on your personalized certificate. The EF SET quiz roughly estimates your level in reading and listening comprehension but is mainly just for fun. It does not issue a certificate.

An “adaptive” test is a test in which the content of an individual’s test is responsive to the level of language proficiency the person demonstrates as the test unfolds. For example, if a person is able to answer every question correctly at the beginning of the test, then much harder questions are presented. If, on the other hand, a person struggles with the questions at the beginning of the test, much easier questions are presented next. At each stage of the test, the content is adjusted to measure each individual’s ability as precisely as possible. This is what allows the EF SET to accurately measure your skills across the full range of CEFR levels in a relatively short amount of time.

The EF SET was built to the same standards of reliability as the other standardized English tests like the TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS:

All test content was pretested on hundreds of thousands of international population of English language learners over many years, at all CEFR* levels. These test results were intensively analyzed for statistical reliability;

The standard error of measurement – a way of predicting how similar scores would be for test takers who took different forms of the test at different times – is comparably low;

And the standards for each CEFR level were determined by a formal standard setting study.

For technical information about these features of the EF SET, please visit our research page to review our EF SET Academic Report. We will update the report as development continues and new features are added to the test.

*The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages, developed and approved by the Council of Europe. The EF SET test results provide English test takers comprehensive information about their English proficiency in the context of this internationally recognized standard.

You can take the quiz as many times as you would like. The certification exams are limited to 1 test session every 90 days. This is for several reasons:

  • The test's accuracy decreases when people take the test many times in a row, as there is a training effect

  • People who want to track their progress every few weeks will be disappointed. The test is not accurate enough to measure very small improvements

  • Although we offer the EF SET for free, the test is not free for us to administer. We want to share the resources between as many people as possible rather than allowing a few people to consume a lot of tests.

If you do decide to retake an EF SET certifying exam, please note that your existing certificate will be updated to reflect your latest test score. This is the normal behavior and cannot be overridden.

Because it is intended as a free and accessible self-assessment, test taker identity is not checked at any time and the EF SET tests delivered via this site are not proctored. However, the test platform includes a number of cheating prevention measures such as copy/paste blocking, no answer key and no repeat test taking allowed. These measures are in line with many other types of online professional certification platforms. More rigorous proctoring and identity control would automatically undermine the free and accessible nature of the EF SET. Universities and companies that need a more controlled way of administering the exam to their students or employees are invited to organize proctored test sessions in their own facilities. Our assessment solutions are well-adapted to such practices.

All English learners, regardless of how they are currently learning English, or their level should use the EF SET. Every learner can benefit from a trustworthy way to measure current proficiency level and mark progress over time.

EF is excited to continue the development on EF SET and improve our assessment tools. We encourage all English learners and teachers to use our English test and give us feedback or comments on their experience. Get in touch:




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You can feel confident that your EF SET score reflects what you would receive on TOEFL and IELTS because the EF SET was built to the same standards of accuracy and reliability as other standardized English tests.

However, EF SET is designed to fill a gap that none of the other high-stakes English tests currently fills – to give the individual users power over his or her own progress and to support English language learning for everyone, regardless of their economic status or location. EF SET removes these barriers by making our tests free and available online.

Adding to these benefits, EF SET is currently the only free certifying English test that accurately measures all skill levels, beginner to proficient, in alignment with the internationally recognized standard, the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Other standardized English tests are able to assess some proficiency levels, but not the entire CEFR scale.

If you want a detailed profile of your English language proficiency, you should take a full length exam. In 15 minutes, the quiz gives you a rough idea of your English proficiency but it's mostly just for fun. The full length EF SET exams align to the CEFR levels from Beginner (A1) to Proficient (C2) and you'll receive an official English certificate which you can easily share with your school or employer.

EF SET Workplace is a 4-skill English test exclusively centered on business-relevant language. It's available to large organizations conducting language assessment at scale via EF's assessment portal, which allows customization of the testing experience and instant access to reporting. In addition to the EF SET Workplace exam, EF's assessment portal offers tests in other world languages. These tests are not available to individual test takers.

EF SET Score

Your EF SET Certificate can be posted to your LinkedIn profile in one click. Anyone who completes the EF SET can use the "Add to Profile" button to upload their test score and official EF SET Certificate. EF SET Certificates are fully compatible with LinkedIn to make it easier for English learners to show proof of their skills to millions of recruiters around the world.

The quiz and the certifying exams are both reported on a 0-100 scale, however, the quiz is simply reporting a % correct out of 20 questions, where the certifying exams are calculating your score in alignment to the CEFR. The quiz can be used as a practice test for the certifying exam, or as a quick fun way to estimate your English level, but your score on the quiz is not predictive of your score on certifying exams. Your numerical scores on the quiz and the EF SET will not align and they may place you in a different CEFR category because the certifying exams are much more accurate and complete than the quiz.

You can improve your EF SET score by improving your English. The exams are general English tests and over time, as your English improves, you can expect your EF SET score to improve as well. However, general English exams are not well-suited to measuring very small amounts of progress. That's why we limit the number of EF SET sessions to 1 test per person every 90 days. We would recommend you wait longer than that, until your English has improved significantly, before retaking the test.

The EF SET is designed primarily as a tool for individuals to evaluate themselves. Your scores are not reported to anyone else other than you, unless you choose to provide the EF SET results as supplemental information to verify their English skills for your school or job. We do not keep lists of schools and companies that recognize the EF SET, but EF SET Certificates are widely recognized in the workplace around the world.

Technical Information

The EF SET works best on the latest version of Chrome, but it will also work on the latest versions of Safari, Firefox, and many other browsers. If you want to be certain you'll have a smooth test taking experience, we recommend using Chrome and ensuring that your computer is charged or plugged in and your internet connection will be stable throughout your test session.

Unfortunately, if you get a fatal error and your test session is cancelled, your results will not be saved. The EF SET must be completed in a single session and we do not allow people to pick up where they left of if they were unable to finish a test for any reason. We do log all errors and keep a close eye on those logs to find bugs and repair them quickly. If you decide to retake the exam after getting an error, you should be able to do so from the same device.

Other Information

If your question was not answered above, or you are looking for additional information about EF SET, get in touch: