Questions and answers about the Cambridge-exam
Cambridge Assessment English offer a range of qualifications and tests for learners and speakers of English which are accepted by over 20,000 organisations and institutions worldwide. Cambridge English Qualifications offer you a path to learning English, step by step, with exams focused at different levels. The commonly accepted exams for university study are B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency.
Why should I take a Cambridge English Qualification?
Cambridge English Qualifications are in-depth exams that make learning English enjoyable, effective and rewarding. Each exam focuses on a level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), helping you to improve your speaking, writing, reading and listening skills step by step. The exams are based on real-life situations, helping you develop the skills you need to communicate effectively.
Whatever your goals or ambitions, Cambridge English Qualifications are a mark of excellence, accepted and trusted by thousands of organisations worldwide.
Which Cambridge Assessment English exam should I choose?
B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency are the three exams most commonly accepted by universities for admissions purposes.
- The B2 First qualification shows you have the language skills needed to communicate confidently in an English-speaking environment.
- The C1 Advanced exam is proof of high-level achievement in English and the ideal qualification to prepare you for university or professional life.
- C2 Proficiency is the highest-level qualification and shows that you are a highly competent speaker of English.
These three exams are accepted by thousands of universities as well as employers around the world. You can search the Cambridge Assessment English Global Recognition Database to see who accepts each exam.
Entry requirements of individual institutions, organisations and departments will vary so it is recommended that you contact an individual institution directly for detailed information on their specific score requirements.
What is the format of the exams?
Each exam is made up of four papers: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
You can choose to take a paper-based version of the exam or a computer-based version. For both versions the Speaking test is taken face to face, with two candidates and two examiners.
You will receive a separate score for each of the four skills covered in the exam (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and one for use of English, giving you a clear understanding of your performance. These five scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam. You will also be given a grade and Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level.
Where can I take Cambridge English Qualifications?
To register for a Cambridge English Qualification, you will need to find an authorised exam centre. There are over 2,800 centres in 130 countries around the world.
What is the cost of the exams?
The price will vary depending on the exam you choose and country you take it in. You can contact your local exam centre to find out the cost.
How do I prepare for Cambridge English Qualifications?
Your local Cambridge Assessment English exam centre will offer advice on how to prepare for the exams. Most students taking a Cambridge English Qualification take an English language course to prepare for the exam. Preparing for the exams helps learners develop their language skills and improve their level of English.
Cambridge Assessment also offer a range of learning and support materials to sharpen your language skills and help you communicate with confidence, for life. Find more information about preparing for B2 First here, and more information about preparing for C1 Advanced here and more information about C2 Proficiency here.
How long are the exams valid?
Cambridge English Qualifications do not have an expiry date. They show that on a particular date you demonstrated language skills at a specified level. However, language skills are known to diminish over time if not used and maintained.
For this reason, individual institutions (such as universities, employers, professional organisations and government bodies) can choose how long to accept results for and some institutions will only accept certificates taken within the last 2 or 3 years.
Where can I find out more about the exams?
You can find a lot more information on the Cambridge Assessment English website.
What is the difference between TOEFL, IELTS and the Cambridge Exam?
Many universities accept TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge English Qualifications with individual score requirements for each exam. TOEFL and IELTS are the most commonly accepted for University applications, but the test results are only valid for two years, so don’t take the exams before you know that you need them. If you want a qualification to show employers and others that you are good at English, then the Cambridge Exams are a good option. They are widely accepted around the world. They do not have an no official expiration date, however it is worth noting that some universities or employers will only accept a Cambridge Exam taken within 2-3 years because language skills are known to diminish over time. If you are looking for a job in the English-speaking world, you could also consider the TOEIC-Exam.
The exams test all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). Here are some other differences between the different tests:
- The TOEFL-exam is administered by the United States and is given in American English. It is the most useful exam if you want to study in the US or Canada. The test consists mostly of multiple choice questions but also a little writing and a short speech section. The test time is 4 hours.
- The IELTS-exam is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. It is an international test of English - IELTS recognises both British and American English spelling, grammar and choice of words and incorporates a mix of native speaker accents from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in the Listening component It is the most useful exam if you want to study in UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The test consists of mixed tasks with small essays, short answers, fill in the blanks and a speech section.
- The Cambridge Exams are produced by Cambridge Assessment English, part of the University of Cambridge in England. The main difference between the exams and other tests is that they are level-based rather than multi-level. The exams consist of mixed tasks and they take about 3-4 hours to complete, depending on which you take. The speaking test is always face-to-face whether you choose the paper-based or computer-based version and the tests also include Use of English tasks to test your control of grammar and vocabulary. The exams cover all major varieties of English including British and American spellings so you can use whichever is most comfortable for you, just make sure you're consistent in the variety you use. The Listening component also includes a mix of native speaker accents.
If you are unsure about which degree to take, consider where you want to study and look at the school's admission requirements.