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Cambridge General English Exams

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Articles | 0 comments

Whatever your proficiency level in English is, if you want or need to get it tested, you will easily find the type of Cambridge Exam that suits your objectives the best. Students and professionals, beginners and advanced level language learners will all find the suitable level of testing – here are the basic types of Cambridge exams.

Cambridge exams: KEY and KEY for Schools

This is the lowest level of testing available in the Cambridge system. The test is basic level, testing the ability of the participants to communicate effectively in everyday situation. The version of the test designed for schools differs only in the choice of the topics, KEY for Schools being more geared towards the interests of schoolchildren.

The requirements for both forms are the same: about 250 learning hours, the ability to understand basic English as well as to write and speak at the required level. The test itself includes a 1 hr 10 mins part, during which the participants will be required to deal with reading and writing tasks, a 30-minute listening task and a speaking and 8-10 minutes long communication test taken by the participants in pairs.

Preliminary Testing

This level is also available in two forms: general and for schools. To be able to pass the test, the participants must be able to communicate in spoken and written form in everyday situations, such as traveling and work situations, they will be required to express their likes and dislikes, to be able to take notes of a meeting, etc.

This type of examination is a bit longer than the previous form: the participants will be allowed 1 hr 30 mins for the reading-writing assignment, 30 mins for the listening and 10-12 for the speaking part.

First and First for Schools

The test used to be called the First Certificate and it is recommended for those who want or need to prove that they are able to work or study in an English-speaking environment. The topics are more abstract such as report writing, TV programs of general interest and the exam itself is longer and features a structure different from the previous levels. The test has a separate reading (1 hr), writing (1 hr 20 min), use of English (45 min), listening (40 min) and speaking part (14 min) part.

Advanced and Proficiency Levels

These are the two most advanced test levels. The Advanced version has been developed to test the proficiency of business professional or of an undergraduate, while the Proficiency test has been developed for those working in research or other professional situations that require the language user to master the language at almost native speaker level. The difference between the two levels lies in the exam structure and the time allocated for each part: the Advanced exam retains the structure of the First exams, only the time allocated for the parts is a bit longer, while the Proficiency test merges the reading and the use of English part and it is also the longest, taking 3 hr 40 min plus the 16 per minute speaking test.


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