What is the Marlins English Test?

The ICS Marlins English Language Test is an international standardised test of English for the maritime industry. It is used by shipping companies, maritime schools and training organisations to assess the language skills of seafarers before they start a job at sea.

In this article, we will be discussing what the Marlins English Test is, what it covers, who needs to take it, and how you can.

Let's get started!

What Is The Marlins English Test? 

Like we mentioned earlier, the Marlins English Test is an international standardised test of English for the maritime industry. It is used to measure a seafarer's or maritime worker's ability to communicate in English before they start work on a commercial ship or offshore structure. 

There are actually three versions: 

  • Marlins English Test for Seafarers (METS): A test designed for seafarers who need to demonstrate their English proficiency for work onboard a commercial vessel.

  • Marlins English Test for Offshore (METO): A test designed for offshore workers who need to demonstrate their English proficiency for work on an offshore structure, such as oil rigs or wind turbines.

  • Marlins English Test for Cruise Ship Staff (METCSS): A test designed for cruise ship staff who need to demonstrate their English proficiency for work on a passenger vessel.

All three versions of the test are nearly identical, with the main difference being the type of maritime-specific vocabulary that's included. The tests are simply Pass-Fail.

What Does the Marlins English Test Cover?

All three versions of the Marlins Test are made up of sections—each covering a different topic that's important to maritime communication: 

  1. Listening Comprehension

  2. Grammar

  3. Vocabulary

  4. Reading

  5. Times and Numbers

  6. Pronunciation

The Marlins English Test for Seafarers covers all six topics, while the Offshore and Cruise Ship Staff versions skip over pronunciation. 

How Long Is the Test? 

The length of the Marlins English Test varies depending on the version you're taking. The number of questions for each version is: 

  • Seafarers: 85 Questions (60 min.)

  • Offshore: 50 Questions (30 min.)

  • Cruise Ship Staff: 85 Questions (60 min.)

The test is multiple choice, with questions spread across the topics covered by the version of the test you're taking. Questions are randomly selected from a database of over 500 possibilities, so no two tests are ever identical. 

There's no time limit for completing any of the Marlins English Tests (despite the times listed above). Instead, Marlins provides estimates for how long the test takes the average person to complete. 

Who Needs to Take the Test?

Currently, there is no international or national regulation that mandates English testing for seafarers and offshore workers. With that being said, “effective communication” is a requirement according to: 

And many shipping companies, offshore companies, and maritime schools now require proof of English proficiency from prospective employees as a result. Marlins recommend that anyone who is planning on or currently working in the maritime industry take the Marlins English Test to demonstrate their language skills. 

So, while the test isn't required from a legal standpoint, it's becoming increasingly necessary in order to obtain maritime employment. Let's talk about why that is. 

Why Is English Testing Important for Maritime Employees? 

Every year, roughly 75% to 96% of maritime incidents (technical faults, accidents, deaths, etc.) are caused by “human error”. That's the largest cause of maritime incidents—and miscommunication plays a huge role. 

In a paper titled Standardised English Language Proficiency Testing for Seafarers, Bernd Mönnigmann details over 20 incidents resulting in injury or death that were at least partially caused by poor English communication. And unfortunately, there are hundreds more left undiscussed. 

In order to reduce the number of maritime incidents, it's important for maritime companies and training institutions to ensure that all employees can communicate effectively in English. Marlins language tests are one way to do that. 

How To Take The Test

The Marlins English Test is an online-only test, but you can't take it using your own computer. 

If you're looking for a Marlins-approved testing centre in the United Kingdom, we offer test assessments at our Dover office.

To check availability or make a booking, give us a call on 0300 303 8191 or fill out our contact form.