CAMBRIDGE EXAMS:

The Cambridge English tests are a suite of English certification exams, each of which delivers a test-specific certificate that is valid indefinitely. Each Cambridge exam tests a specific level of English, so you must choose which exam is appropriate for your level for by taking the Cambridge placement test online.

The Cambridge placement test is free and available online here: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/test-your-english/

There are four versions of the placement test:

  • one for adults,
  • one for teens,
  • one for business English,
  • and one for children.

The Cambridge placement test is not timed and the correct answers are given at the end of the test. This test’s levels and scores are, to use the official Cambridge placement test language, “very approximate”.

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 CAMBRIDGE EXAMS – WHAT ARE THEY?:

 

TEST NAME LEVEL CEFR
KET ELEMENTARY A2
PET INTERMEDIATE B1
FIRST CERTIFICATE UPPER INTERMEDIATE B2
CAE ADVANCED C1
CPE FLUENT C2
LINGUASKILL ALL PRE-A1 TO C2
B

A

Cambridge KET Exam

The Cambridge English Key exam, otherwise known as the KET exam, which stands for Cambridge Key English Test, is designed for students at an elementary level of English. It is the lowest level of Cambridge exam offered to adults outside the UK. Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the KET Exam is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The Cambridge Key exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In either case, it lasts 110 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The KET exam tests all four skills – listening, reading, writing, and speaking – divided into three sections structured as follows:

Part 1 (70 minutes) – The first section of the KET Exam tests reading comprehension and writing ability at the same time. It is subdivided into 9 subsections with a total of 56 questions. The questions in the first part of the test are multiple-choice then they move on to fill-in-the-blank, and in the final subsection, there is a very short writing prompt. The reading material and writing prompts are all at a basic level of English.

Part 2 (22 minutes of recordings + 8 minutes extra to transfer answers to the answer sheet) – The second section of the KET tests listening comprehension. There are several short recordings of everyday English spoken slowly and clearly and questions about the recordings. Each recording is played twice. Some of the questions are multiple-choice and others are fill-in-the-blank. There are a total of 25 questions in this part.

Part 3 (8 to 10 minutes) – The last section of the KET Exam tests English speaking. Students are put into pairs and asked to have a conversation with an examiner and then with each other. This group situation is meant to be more realistic than a one-on-one conversational situation. There is a second examiner who watches and scores but does not speak. This speaking test may be given on a different day from the first two parts of the KET Exam, depending on the exam center’s scheduling.

 

Scoring

All Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale, although in the past each exam used a different scale. Today, lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Scores on the KET Exam range from 100 to 150. A score of 120 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the KET Exam certificate, which corresponds to a level A2 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 140 or above on the KET Exam will receive a Cambridge Key English Test certificate for level B1.

The first part of the KET Exam is worth 50% of the total score. The second and third parts of the KET Exam are each worth 25% of the total score. Each student receives his KET results broken down by the three parts of the exam, as well as an overall result and the corresponding CEFR level. If the student passed the KET, he will also receive a KET Exam certificate within 3 months of his test date.

Cambridge PET Exam

The Cambridge English: Preliminary exam, also known as the PET exam, which stands for Preliminary English Test, is designed for students with intermediate English. Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the PET Exam is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The PET exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In both versions, the PET lasts 140 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The PET exam tests all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is structured as follows:

Part 1 (90 minutes) – The first section of the PET Exam tests reading comprehension and writing ability at the same time. It is subdivided into 8 subsections with a total of 42 questions. The first 5 subsections focus on reading comprehension and the last 3 focus on writing skills. There are multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, but also two writing prompts (a postcard and either a letter or a story).

Part 2 (30 minutes of recordings + 6 minutes extra to transfer answers to the answer sheet) – The second section of the PET exam test listening comprehension. You hear each recording twice and must answer questions about the recording. There are a total of 25 questions in this part, each worth 1 point. The question types are multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and true/false.

Part 3 (10 to 12 minutes) – The last section of the PET exam tests speaking ability. Students are put into pairs and asked to have a conversation with an examiner and then with each other. There is a second examiner listening. The speaking test starts with the examiner asking questions about each student. The examiner then presents a situation and the students discuss possible solutions. Finally, the examiner gives the students a picture and the students describe and discuss it. The speaking test may be given on a different day from the first two parts of the PET Exam, depending on the exam center’s scheduling.

Scoring

From 2016, all Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale. Lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. In the past, the PET had its own scoring scale, so PET test scores prior to 2016 must be converted to the new scale in order to be compared.

Scores on the PET Exam today range from 120 to 170. A score of 140 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the PET Exam certificate, which corresponds to a level B1 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 160 or above on the PET Exam will receive a Cambridge Preliminary English Test certificate for level B2.

As on the KET exam, the first part of the PET Exam is worth 50% of the total score and the second and third parts of the PET Exam are each worth 25% of the total score. Each student receives his PET results broken down by the three parts of the exam, as well as an overall result and the corresponding CEFR level. If the student got a passing score on the PET, he will also receive a PET exam certificate which is valid forever.

 

D

 

Cambridge First Certificate

The Cambridge English: First exam, also known as the FCE exam or the Cambridge First Certificate, is designed for students with upper-intermediate English skills. It is the most popular of the Cambridge English exam suite because it is often the minimum level required by university programs in English-speaking countries.

Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the First Certificate is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The FCE exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In either case, it lasts 209 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The Cambridge First Certificate tests all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is structured as follows:

Part 1 (75 minutes) – The first section of the First Certificate Exam tests reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This part has a total of 52 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions. There are about 2,200 words in total to read during this part of the FCE.

Part 2 (80 minutes) – The second section of the Cambridge First Certificate tests writing ability. You will write two texts, each between 140 and 190 words. The first prompt is an essay. For the second prompt, you are given a choice between different text formats: article, letter, review, etc.

Part 3 (40 minutes) – The third section of the First Certificate is listening comprehension. You listen to short speeches, conversations, or other types of native English speech and answer questions about what you heard. Each recording is played two times. There are a total of 30 questions in this part.

Part 4 (14 minutes) – The last section of the FCE tests English speaking ability. Students take this part of the test in pairs, and may have to take this part on a different day than the other three parts of the exam, depending on the test center. The speaking test is in four short sub-sections, the first two you speak on your own and the second two you speak with the other candidate.

Scoring

From 2016, all Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale. Lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Scores on the FCE Exam range from 140 to 190. A score of 160 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the Cambridge First Certificate, which corresponds to a level B2 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 180 or above on the FCE will receive a Cambridge First Certificate for level C1.

The first part of the FCE is worth 40% of the total score. The second, third, and fourth parts are each worth 20% of the total score. Each student receives his Cambridge First Certificate results broken down by the four skills as well as an overall result and the corresponding CEFR level. If the student got a passing score on the FCE, he will also receive his Cambridge First Certificate, which is valid indefinitely.

Cambridge CAE Exam

The Cambridge CAE Exam, also known as Cambridge Advanced Certificate, is the next to last exam in the Cambridge English exam suite. This exam is commonly accepted by universities in the UK for advanced study programs.

Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the CAE is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The CAE exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In either case, it lasts 235 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The Cambridge Advanced exam tests all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is structured as follows:

Part 1 (90 minutes) – The first section of the CAE tests reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This part has a total of 56 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions divided into 8 subsections. There are about 3,500 words in total to read during this part of the CAE, and all text is drawn from newspapers, magazines, textbooks, advertisements, or other authentic English writing.

Part 2 (90 minutes) – The second part of the Cambridge Advanced exam tests writing ability. There are two prompts of equal length (about 250 words to write). The first prompt is an essay stating your opinion about something. The second prompt you can choose between several options to respond to the information provided.

Part 3 (40 minutes) – The third section of the CAE test is listening comprehension. You listen to radio, television, or other types of native English speech and answer questions about what you heard. Each recording is played two times. There are a total of 30 questions in this part divided into 4 subsections.

Part 4 (15 minutes) – The last section of the CAE tests English speaking ability. Students take this part of the test in pairs, and may be asked to come back to the test center on a different day for this part, depending on the test center. The speaking test is in four short parts: the first two you speak on your own and with the examiner, and the second two you speak with the other candidate. There is a second examiner in the room who takes notes but does not participate in the interview.

Scoring

From 2016, all Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale. Lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Scores on the CAE Exam range from 160 to 210. A score of 180 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the Cambridge Advanced certificate, which corresponds to a level C1 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 200 or above on the CAE will receive a Cambridge Advanced certificate for level C2.

 

Cambridge CPE Exam

The Cambridge English: Proficiency exam, also known as CPE, is the highest level exam in the Cambridge English exam suite. Getting the Cambridge certificate of proficiency in English proves that a student has mastered English to a near-native level and can study or work in any type of English setting.

Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the CPE is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The Cambridge Proficiency exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. Both paper and online versions last 236 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The CPE tests all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is structured as follows:

Part 1 (90 minutes) – The first section of the CPE tests reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This part has seven subsections and a total of 53 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions. There are about 3,000 words in total to read during this part of the CPE. All text is authentic writing drawn from books, newspaper and magazine articles, and the internet.

Part 2 (90 minutes) – The second section of the CPE exam tests writing ability. There are two sections. In the first section, the student reads two short texts and then must write an essay summarizing the arguments of both texts and presenting their own opinions about the same ideas. In the second prompt, the student has 5 options of texts to write, including one option which is based on a book of English literature that students must have read before the test. The books accepted are changed from time to time.

Part 3 (40 minutes) – The third section of the CPE exam tests listening comprehension. The student hears recordings of native English speech and answers questions about what he heard. Each recording is played twice. There can be a variety of English accents in the recordings, which are primarily radio, television, and other authentic speech at native speed. There are a total of 30 questions in this part divided into 4 subsections.

Part 4 (16 minutes) – The final section of the CPE tests English speaking ability. Students take the CPE speaking test in pairs, and may be asked to come back to the test center on a different day, depending on the test center’s schedule. The speaking test is in three short parts including one part in which the student speaks on his own with the examiner, and two parts in which the student speaks with the other student being tested.

Scoring

From 2016, all Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale. Lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Scores on the CPE Exam range from 180 to 230. A score of 200 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the Cambridge English proficiency certificate, which corresponds to a level C2 in English on the CEFR.

Each student receives his CPE results broken down by the four skills as well as an overall result and the corresponding CEFR level. If the student got a passing score on the CPE, he will also receive his Cambridge Advanced Certificate, which never expires, but if he did not get a passing score, he will only get the score report.

 

 

G

Linguaskill

Linguaskill is an online test used primarily by education institutions and companies for self-invigilated English testing. It replaced BULATS (Business Language Testing Service) when it was discontinued in December 2019. Linguaskill can test individuals and groups of candidates in all four language skills: speaking, writing, reading and listening, however, it is modular so it can also be administered for a single language skill.

The primary difference between Linguaskill and other standardized English tests is that it is offered as a service to schools, training centers, and companies that wish to organize their own testing sessions on campus. For self-invigilated test sessions, cheating-prevention measures are the responsibility of the test administrator/customer rather than Linguaskill or a third-party test center.

Test structure

There are two test options available, Linguaskill General and Linguaskill Business. Both formats of the test are the same length. Linguaskill is a modular test and each of the three modules can be taken as a stand-alone test or combined with the other modules.

The listening and reading section of Linguaskill is a single module lasting 60-85 minutes. It is an adaptive test, which is to say that questions get easier or harder depending on how the student responds. Standard question types are fill-in-blank and reading and listening comprehension. Most of the answers are multiple choice. The score of the listening/reading module of Linguaskill is available immediately upon completion, although testing institutions can decide not to display the score to test takers until their scores on the other modules are ready.

The Linguaskill writing test lasts 45 minutes and includes two tasks: a minimum 50-word writing prompt (often an e-mail) and a minimum 180-word prompt. A computer automatically marks the texts and assigns a score within 12 hours.

The speaking module of Linguaskill lasts 15 minutes and includes 5 tasks. This section is recorded and assessed automatically by a computer then verified by examiners at another location before scoring in published. Scores are available within 48 hours.

Scoring

Scores on all Linguaskill modules are on the Cambridge English Scale, from 82 to 180, and its equivalent CEFR band. If a student takes more than one module, an overall score is calculated on the same 82-180 scale (an average of the scores achieved on the modules taken). Institutions administering Linguaskill to groups receive a summary report of all student scores and CEFR bands. Results on Linguaskill are available within 48 hours, making it much faster as an assessment tool than most standardized tests. The quick turnaround time is accomplished through automated rather than manual scoring.