There are many reasons to be learning English. Maybe you are learning it in school, for fun or to communicate with a friend or to help you when you go travelling.
Or maybe you have more practical reasons. Maybe you want to study on a particular course at an English-speaking University or to work in other countries or for an international company.
An English exam qualification is proof of your level and ability and often required by an employer, school or institution either to gain admission or to give you the support you need to improve.
But which one is the right one for you? And which level exam will you be facing as you progress?
Cambridge English Qualifications
Cambridge English exams are also known as ESOL exams (English for speakers of other languages). There are different levels of exams based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) which is the international standard for describing language ability. They test all four language skills: speaking, writing, reading and listening.
The Cambridge English Qualifications are a mark of excellence, accepted and trusted by organisations worldwide as proof of ability to use English. The qualifications you receive are valid for life.
CEFR – Common European Framework Reference
This framework has six levels of language ability from A1 to C2, very basic to highly proficient.
Depending on your level in the CEFR, there are different tests designed to each level of difficulty at school level through higher education to business level.
School Level Exams
These are Basic level exams for students in Primary education, given by the school to develop the child’s language skill and improve their English step by step. Every young learner receives a certificate at these levels regardless of their result. There are three difficulty levels.
Pre A1 – Starters Test
At this level, a young student will understand basic English in children’s books, songs and television shows and films and interact simply with other children in English.
A1 – Movers Test
At this level, the student will understand basic instructions and be able to use simple sentences and take part in conversations with other children.
A2 – Flyers Test
At this level, the student will be able to use common phrases, understand simple written English, communicate in ordinary situations and interact slowly with English speakers.
High School Learners
These exams continue a student’s progress through learning English as a second language into their secondary level Education, helping them to prepare effectively for higher-level education. There are five difficulty levels.
A2 – Key for Schools Test
At this level, the student will use common phrases, be able to talk about themselves, understand simple written English and interact with English speakers at a basic level.
B1 – Preliminary for Schools Test
At this level, students will be able to read and understand simple text, information and articles. They can write about common topics and begin to express opinions.
B2 – First for Schools Test
Students at this level will be able to follow news and radio programmes. They can write letters and essays expressing facts, opinions and stories. And they will interact easily in harder topics of conversation.
C1 – Certificate in Advanced English
This exam helps students develop skills towards studying, working and living in English-speaking countries. Many Educational institutions accept this qualification as proof of a high-level in English learning.
This qualification shows a level of communication equal to that in a professional workplace or at university level, with a high level of fluency.
C2 – Certificate of Proficiency in English
This exam shows that a student has mastered English to a high degree of fluency, with complex understanding and verbal communication. They should have an ability to work in a more advanced professional or management role or study on a post-graduate or PhD programme.
General and Higher Education Exams
These exams are taken by those in or seeking higher level education or needing development or proof of English skills in a general work environment. There are five levels of these exams.
A2 – Key English Test (KET)
This is the easiest of the Cambridge exams. It tests basic English skills.
It is designed for those who wish to communicate in simple and common situations like introducing yourself and asking or answering basic questions and understanding slow speech.
Your results will show you where you need to focus to continue advancing and will show schools and employers what your current level of English is.
B1 – Preliminary English Test (PET)
This exam tests an intermediate level of English.
It is designed for those who can understand and use everyday written and spoken English and communicate in typical situations you would meet from day to day.
This test will show your current level of English. At this level you will still be figuring out where your strengths and weaknesses lie as you continue improving.
B2 – First Certificate in English (FCE)
This exam tests a higher intermediate level of English.
It is designed for those who can understand most everyday situations and follow TV and radio programmes, manage conversations easily and write clear and detailed text.
This test shows a good mastery of English needed for business and educational environments.
C1 – Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)
This is the second highest of the Cambridge exams. It tests a proficient level of English.
At this level you should have the ability to communicate with confidence and deal with most parts of everyday life with ease. You should understand faster paced speech and express more complex ideas.
It is often used for those who want to work or study abroad. Or to show a high enough ability to develop a career that requires a high level of language skills.
C2 – Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)
This is the highest-level Cambridge Exam. It tests a highly proficient level of English.
At this level you should be near fluent, with an ability to explain complex issues and understand fine details and deeper meanings, communicating easily with native speakers.
This exam is used by those aiming for a career in international business or those seeking an advanced level degree in University in an English-speaking country. It is recognised by thousands of institutions and employers all over the world.
Cambridge Business Exams
While the General and Higher education level exams are recognised by businesses around the world; some organisations may call for a more specific qualification for Business English which focuses on English used in workplace contexts. There are three levels of the Business English exams, each based on every day work tasks in a business environment.
B1 – Business Preliminary Test (BEC Preliminary)
This exam shows you have mastered basic business English. At this level you should be able to talk about business topics, use graphs and charts and write simple emails and communicate on a basic level.
B2 – Business Vantage Test (BEC Vantage)
This exam shows employers that you have the necessary skills to work in an international company environment. At this level you should be able to manage more involved tasks like writing reports, reading business articles and take part in meetings with a good level of listening comprehension.
C1 – Business Higher (BEC Higher)
This exam shows you have reached an advanced level of Business English. At this level, you will have the ability to communicate easily and be able to fully take part in meetings and presentations, expressing yourself at a high level of fluency.
IELTS – International English Language Testing System
The IELTS test is managed by the British Council, IDP, IELTS Australia and the Cambridge ESOL Examinations. It is offered in over 1,600 locations in more than 140 countries.
There are two types of IELTS test: Academic and General Training.
Here is our IELTS Preparation Course to get you started.
This is a test designed to evaluate the ability of non-native speakers who intend to study or train on higher education courses and programs in English. This is a popular test for higher education purposes, with over 3 million tests taken each year. It is widely accepted by educational institutions and scholarship programs during admission processes.
This test is also widely accepted by employers, professional registration bodies and certification agencies as well as by government agencies to check English ability during hiring procedures. So this qualification will also serve you well if you are planning to work in other countries or where English is used for communication.
IELTS General Training
This test is for those who are going into secondary education, work experience or training programmes in English-speaking countries. It focuses on the skills needed to communicate and survive in general social and workplace situations.
This training is necessary if you are planning to move to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
Linguaskill has been developed and supported as part of the Cambridge ESOL Exams. There is Linguaskill for Education Institutions and Linguaskill Business which is the official replacement for the BULATS exam, soon to be discontinued from the end of 2019.
You may be instructed to take this test by your educational institution where you are studying or will study or by your employer where you are working or are hoping to work.
These institutions and companies use this online test to check the English levels of individuals or candidates to understand and offer support if needed.
TOEFL® – Test of English as a Foreign Language
The TOEFL exam is developed and given by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) examining reading, writing, listening and speaking. Many colleges and Universities with courses instructed in English ask for a TOEFL Qualification for admission of international students with English as their second language.
The TOEFL qualification is the one preferred at Universities in the United States, France and Germany. There are test centres around the world, and the qualification is valid for two years.
TEFL– Teach English as a Foreign Language
TEFL certification is obtained through course training available in many countries around the world. Assessments and evaluation are provided as part of the course, designed by the individual language education facility.
TEFL certification is designed for those who already have a fluent level or high mastery of English and want to use their English skills and passion to teach others. It is often pursued as a great way to travel and see the world while you work.
A TEFL certificate is often necessary if you want to teach English as a foreign language overseas or in your home country in educational institutions and language centres.
With the TEFL qualification you also have the means and certification to teach English to students in your own home or online.
Whatever your need, we have many courses available to help you prepare for these exams, such as the IELTS Preparation Course and our TEFL course. We also have General English, Exam English (we can coach you for any English exam out there) or Business English courses and many more. All courses are taught by highly trained tutors, in small class groups, 1-to-1 or 2-to1, dedicated to give you quality training and to help you achieve success. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you on your path to English excellence.
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