Understanding Cambridge Exams for School Learners

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KET. PET. FCE. CAE. CPE.

Confused?

Teaching English as a Foreign Language means wearing many hats inside the classroom. You may be asked to teach English for a variety of purposes, some of which you may be prepared for and others which you may not be. You might need to teach English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes, Content and Language Integrated Learning or Business English – would you be able to teach any of those?

Of course, if you are asked to teach a class you know nothing about, there’s no need to confess your ignorance to the entire staff room and hang your head in shame. Instead, you can admit to not having all that much experience, go away and do your homework and come back prepared for your class.

Which is where we come in.

Here is a cheat sheet for if you need to teach any of the Cambridge exams.

In general: Cambridge exams are a range of exams for school learners or adults. Cambridge exams are based on real-life situations and prepare learners to be able to use English in the real world. The exams are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference and the Cambridge English Scale can be used to define a learner’s ability at every level.

In this post we will look at the Cambridge exams for school learners. These exams are often undertaken at school or, if not, at a language centre students attend after school and/or on weekends.

Starters (YLE Starters)

  • the first of three tests for Young Learners
  • helps learners understand basic English on the Internet, and enjoy books, songs, television and movies in English
  • there’s no pass or fail – every child receives a Cambridge English certificate
  • Pre-Level A1
  • 45 minutes in length

Movers (YLE Movers)

  • the second of three tests for Young Learners
  • helps learners understand basic instructions and notices, take part in basic conversations and complete basic forms
  • there is no pass or fail – each child receives a Cambridge English certificate
  • Level A1
  • about an hour in length

Flyers (YLE Flyers)

  • the third of three tests for Young Learners
  • helps learners understand simple written English, use and understand basic expressions and interact with English speakers
  • there is no pass or fail – each child gets a Cambridge English Certificate
  • Level A2
  • about 75 minutes in length

Key (KET) for Schools

  • helps learners to understand and use basic English expressions, introduce themselves and interact at a basic level
  • aimed at the same level as the KET but with content appropriate for school learners
  • CEFR level A2
  • About 2 hours

Preliminary (PET) for Schools

  • helps learners read simple textbooks and articles in English, write letters and emails, understand facts and become aware of opinions in written and spoken English
  • Level B1
  • About 2 hours 20 minutes

First (FCE) for Schools

  • helps learners express opinions and present arguments in spoken and written English, communicate effectively face-to-face and understand the news
  • Level B2
  • About 3 and a ½ hours

Preparing school learners for exams can be challenging because of the nature of exams. Many students have negative associations with exams and special care needs to be taken to ensure they are not put off learning English because they are preparing for exams. Luckily, the Cambridge exams for school learners incorporates content which is appropriate for this age group and there are loads of resources available to ensure your lessons are fun and enjoyable.

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