Understanding Cambridge Exams for Adults

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In a previous post we looked at the different Cambridge exams on offer for school learners. These exams are the same exams as those aimed at adult learners, except that they differ in content. The adult exams are aimed at adult learners who wish to take an exam to prove their competence in English to study at an English-speaking institution, work in an English-speaking environment or live in an English-speaking country. The students will choose which exam to take based on their level of English.

Key (KET)

  • proof of a learner’s ability to use English to communicate in simple situations
  • helps the learner use and understand basic expressions in English, understand simple written English, introduce themselves and interact on a basic level
  • Level A2
  • About 3 hours

Preliminary (PET)

  • proof that a learner has mastered the basics of English for everyday communication
  • helps a learner read simple textbooks and articles, read letters and emails, take notes and become aware of spoken and written opinions
  • Level B1
  • About 2 hours 20 minutes

First (FCE)

  • one of the most popular Cambridge exams
  • proof that a learner has the language skills to live and work in an English-speaking country or study a course in English
  • helps a learner communicate face-to-face, express opinions and arguments in written and spoken English and follow the news
  • Level B2
  • About 3 and a ½ hours

Advanced (CAE)

  • proof that a learner can study and work in a high-level English-speaking environment
  • accepted by over 8 000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments
  • helps learners follow a university-level course, communicate at a professional and managerial level in a business context, participate well in business or academic situations and express themselves with a high degree of fluency
  • Level C1
  • About 4 hours

Proficiency (CPE)

  • the highest level Cambridge exam
  • proof that a learner has mastered English to an exceptional level and can communicate as a highly competent English speaker
  • helps learners study up to PhD level, interact effectively at senior management level and understand and talk about complex and sensitive issues
  • level C2
  • about 4 hours

Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)

  • the first of three Business English exams
  • aimed at developing basic Business English skills
  • accepted by top international companies and business schools
  • helps learners talk about simple business topics, understand charts and graphs, write short business emails and follow short telephone conversations
  • level B1
  • about 2 hours 20 minutes

Business Vantage (BEC Vantage)

  • the second of three Business English exams
  • proof that a learner is capable of conducting business at an international level
  • helps learners write short business emails and reports, read articles in business publications and  understand and give opinions in meetings
  • level B2
  • about 2 hours 40 minutes

Business Higher (BEC Higher)

  • the third of three Business English exams
  • proof that a learner has achieved an Advanced level of Business English
  • helps learners communicate at a managerial level, participate effectively in workplace situations, express themselves fluently and understand different cultural situations
  • level C1
  • about 3 hours

Preparing adult learners to write a Cambridge exam can be really rewarding provided we know what we are doing and if we make sure our exam classes are not boring! Always bear in mind that these exams are really important for our learners and their futures, so it is our duty to take these classes seriously to ensure our students can achieve the best results possible.

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