What are the International Examinations and Certificates?
The International Certificate is a document which confirms the knowledge of a foreign language. This certificate is recognized by educational institutions and employers around the world. The International Certificate can be obtained by passing a special examination on a foreign language. Such an examination or the examination system is entirely developed and maintained by certain organizations (private companies).
For example, in the U.S.A. all tests are carried out by Educational Testing Services (ETS). This organization has developed and takes the TOEFL exam. It is an American Certificate confirming the practical knowledge of English. It is adopted by all educational institutions and other organizations in the United States.
In the UK the situation is more complicated. There are several Examination Syndicate (boards) conducting English examinations. The activities of these syndicates are licensed and approved by the British Government. Exams, which they offer, are consolidated into an integrated scheme. It makes it possible to compare them with each other. One of the most famous examinations is Cambridge Examination which is recognized by the majority of countries in the world. Unlike TOEFL, the certificate on passing this examination is given with no fixed term, giving the right to study and work in a country where English is the official language.
You should distinguish the International Certificate and Certificate of the International Sample, which is issued by many courses. International Certificates are documents, which are given out with permission of one of the world-famous organizations. They have a unified form for all countries. Certificates of the International Sample are certificates on completing courses. They are translated into a foreign language and ensealed.
What does the examination consist of?
Everything depends on the choice of the certificate. Typically, an examination on general knowledge of the language consists of several parts: understanding a spoken speech and script, writing assignments, grammar tests and spoken speech testing.
Examinations on general knowledge of the language, as a rule, have no age restrictions. But special examinations, for example, TEFL (certificate on the right to teach a language) can be passed from the age of 18. However, it is unlikely to teach English before attaining majority. This also explains the restrictions on academic tests: GRE and GMAT exams you can take from 25 years. Restrictions exist for those who take children's exams. For example, ESOL For Young Learners is developed for children from 9 to 13 years old, JET (Junior English Test) - for people from 6 to 16 years old (incidentally, those who have attained the age of sixteen should think about "adult" certificates).