English Language Qualifications
What are the most common English Language Qualifications, and what are the benefits of having one?
Find out here!
The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an official exam that is respected and accepted around the world for work, education and immigration.
There are four sections of the IELTS exam – Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing – which represent the four skills which are tested. There are also two different types of IELTS exam: Academic (usually for universities) and General (usually for immigration).
The whole exam is normally done in one day, but the speaking section can be done on a different day if you choose. The IELTS can be done on paper or electronically. There is no grammar section in this exam because your grammar and vocabulary are tested in every section in a natural context.
Whatever your level of English is, everybody takes the same IELTS exam. There is no “pass” or “fail” on the IELTS because the purpose of this test is to measure your level of English. The score that you need depends on why you’re taking the test. The university where you want to study or the government of the country where you want to live will tell you what score you need.
The possible scores on the IELTS go from 1 to 9. One is the lowest, and means that you can’t use English at all. Nine is the highest possible score and means that you’re an expert user of English.
There is more than one Cambridge qualifications, depending on level. The Cambridge First is a B2-level exam, and the Cambridge Advanced is a C1-level exam. These are the two most popular, but they’re not the only Cambridge exams.
You have to choose the right test at the right level for you. The First and Advanced exams are very similiar. The Advanced exam is a little bit longer, but both exams have four parts: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. These four sections test your skills and your ability to understand and use English in a natural way. The whole exam is typically done in one day, and when you sign up you can choose if you want to do the paper exam or computer-based exam.
When your exam is marked you are given a score on the Cambridge scale. When you pass a Cambridge exam, you can receive a C, B, or A result.
In the First Exam, C is low B2 level, B is high B2 level, and an A certificate is C1 level.
In the Advanced, Exam C is low C1, B1 is high C1, and A is C2 level.
If your score is below the level of the exam you can still receive a certificate. So if you “fail” the Cambridge First, you can still get a B1 certificate, and if you “fail” the Cambridge Advanced, you can still get a B2 certificate.
The Trinity Qualifications are newer than both IELTS and the Cambridge exams, but they have become very important in the UK. Trinity exams are one of the SELTs (Secure English Language Tests) that British immigration accepts for visas and passports.
The GESE 2, 3, and 5 are short speaking exams. The Trinity GESE 2 exam (A1 level) is accepted for a spouse or partner visa in the UK, as well as a parent of a dependent, and for visas for a representative of an overseas business.
The GESE 3 exam (A2 level) is accepted to extend a spouse or partner visa after somebody has been in the UK for 2.5 years. The GESE 5 exam (B1 level) is used for indefinite leave to remain in the UK or to get a British passport.
Finally, the ISE 1 exam (B1 level) is used most often to get a Tier II visa to the UK or to be a private hire driver (for example Uber).