What is the market size of language proficiency tests (e.g., TOEFL) in the US and other large markets for University testing/admission

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What is the market size of language proficiency tests (e.g., TOEFL) in the US and other large markets for University testing/admission

Hello! Thank you for your research question about the market size of language proficiency tests in the U.S. and other large markets for University testing/ admission. I was able to find resources to estimate the answer this question for the U.S. market and for the global market size as well. The short version is, the market size of language proficiency is estimated to be approximately $105 million in the U.S. and $522 for the global market. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.

The language proficiency test market is getting bigger and new players are jumping into the scene. Perry Akins, a former president of ELS Language Centers says this is because "the world is getting flatter". The largest players can be determined by the number of annual test takers and the number of institutions accepting the results of these Language tests. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) clearly stand out as the largest players by the aforementioned criteria. IELTS statistics show that over 2.2 million IELTS tests are administered every year. IELTS also claims that over 9000 institutions worldwide accept its test scores. TOEFL on the other hand, states on its website that hundreds of thousands of TOEFL tests are administered every year. Their scores are also accepted by over 9000 colleges, agencies, and other institutions. Some of the data used in this research will, therefore, come from TOEFL and IELTS. Most of the statistics, however, cover the entire market for language proficiency tests.

The largest market for language proficiency tests comprises students who are applying for study programs abroad. Universities and colleges almost always require international students to prove that they have an adequate understanding of the language needed for their studies. This proof is provided through language certificates which are given by language proficiency test bodies.
It is, therefore, crucial to determine the number of international students in the U.S. and worldwide as well.

Education at a Glance 2016 is a report by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which provides these statistics. According to this report, approximately 4.5 million students enrolled in tertiary education outside their countries of citizenship. About 58% of these are from countries where English is not widely used. In the U.S. alone 82% (525,025) of all international enrollments are from non-English speaking nations. A vast majority of these students had to take English proficiency tests to verify requirements for their different programs. While students form the largest share of this market, it is also important to note that language proficiency tests are taken for other reasons as well. Some employers, for instance, evaluate language competency by using test scores from these language proficiency test scores.

Most of the large corporations that administer English proficiency tests have massive infrastructure laid out across many countries. This is to ensure their results are credible and acceptable. The costs for paid English proficiency tests vary mainly depending on the location of the test candidate. Taking the TOEFL test, for instance, costs anywhere between $160 and $250. In most places, it costs $200. The cost to take IELTS in the USA ranges between $215 and $240. The reasonable average here would be $200.
The industry may, however, change in the future. This is due to the recent influx of online language proficiency tests offered at a lower cost and for some even free. One of these is iTEP (International Test of English Proficiency) which employs such a model.

As demonstrated above, the U.S. has an annual potential of English language proficiency test candidates of approximately 525,025.
It follows that these candidates are likely to pay a ballpark price of $200 to take any one of these tests. This would put the market size of language proficiency tests in the U.S. at approximately $105,005,000 (525,025 x 200)

Evidently, the global market would be 58% of the 4.5 million international students worldwide. This gives approximately 2.61 million potential test candidates. These candidates would also pay comparatively $200 to take the test. This information yields a global market size of $522,000,000.

English-language destinations that dominate this global market are the U.S., U.K, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

To wrap it up, the market size of language proficiency tests is approximately $105 million in the U.S. and $522 globally.
This market size is expected to grow as globalization elevates the numbers of international students and foreign workers.

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