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TOP-5 tips how to prepare and pass Cambridge exams for international students


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TOP-5 tips how to prepare and pass Cambridge exams for international students


The results of Cambridge exams are taken by prestigious schoolselite universities employers throughout the English-speaking world. Successful completion of Cambridge English Qualification allows you to receive an internationally recognized certificate showing the level of English proficiency.

Examinations are held in special accredited language schools and demonstrate English proficiency of a student. Preparation for the exam is a separate stage, which can take from several weeks to several years. Many linguistic centers offer education programs that allow you to work out the specific stages of the test, get acquainted with the methodology of their implementation. The best results when passing Cambridge exams for entering universities are shown by students who studied English abroad, attended an English-language educational institution and completed a education course.

In total, there are several varieties of Cambridge exams for different age and target groups.

  • Young pupils

Cambridge English: Young Learners (YLE) exams are designed to assess English language skills for children seven to twelve. YLE allow you to get three levels of assessment (Starters, Movers, Flyers), help track progress, gradually increasing your level.

  • Starters

Cambridge English: Starters is the first of three YLE tests for children that allows you to build a positive attitude towards language tests from the very beginning of learning English.

  • Qualification Level: Preliminary.
  • Target audience: children from 7 to 8 years old, who have studied English for at least 100 hours.

Test tasks:

  • Recognize colours in English
  • Answer simple questions about yourself
  • Write short monosyllabic answers to questions.
  • Movers

Cambridge English: Movers is the second of three YLE tests: at this stage, the child learns to communicate in real life, to form a positive attitude towards the language.

  • Level of qualification: Beginner = A1 for the pan-European structure.
  • Who the exam is focused on: students from 8 to 11 years of age who have studied English for more than 175 hours.

During the test, the child:

  • Demonstrates an understanding of basic English instructions
  • Fill out simple forms, answer questions about yourself
  • Answers questions and writes down simple facts (for example, days of the week, time or names) that he hears or reads in children's history.
  • Flyers

Cambridge English: Flyers is the final of three Young Learners tests. This test shows that a child can understand simple English in everyday situations and communicate at a basic level.

  • Level of qualification: Elementary = A2 according to the pan-European structure.
  • The test is taken by students from 9 to 12 years old, studying English as a second language for two to three years at school (about 250 hours).

During the exam, students:

  • Explain the difference between two stories or pictures
  • Write or tell a short story in English
  • Ask questions and use the past tense.

The Flyers test is equivalent to the Key for Schools (KET) test.

According to the results of three tests, the child receives separate certificates: for each part he receives a maximum of 5 points, certificates are issued about a month after the test.

Part Name / Duration

Listening

Reading and writing

Speaking

Starters

20 minutes.

20 minutes.

3-5 minutes

Movers

25 minutes

30 minutes.

5-7 minutes

Flyers

25 minutes

40 min

7-9 minutes

KET - Key English Test

Cambridge English Qualifications: A2 Key, also known as the Key English Test is a general English minimum level exam. The KET certificate demonstrates that students can communicate in basic English in everyday situations.

A2 Key for Schools and A2 Key allow you to get an internationally accepted certificate of a single level, but the first option is focused on the interests and experience of students.

  • Qualification: Elementary = A2 according to the pan-European structure.
  • KET is suitable for students who have completed education lasting about 250 hours, are able to speak, write and understand English. This is the first step in developing linguistic skills for future work or study.

Necessary skills:

  • Ask, answer questions about yourself and others
  • Understand announcements, instructions (subject to a slow, clear pronunciation)
  • Formulate thoughts after listening to or hearing text.

Exam format: the test includes three parts - reading + writing, listening, speaking. The first three parts are held on the same day, and oral communication between teachers and candidates for a certificate can be held at another time.

Parameter

Reading and writing

Listening

Oral speech

Duration

1 h 10 min

30 minutes.

8-10 minutes for 2 candidates

Ranking (% of total)

50%

25%

25%

Preliminary English Test (PET)

The Preliminary English Test (PET) or Preliminary English Test for Schools demonstrates that students can communicate in English in practical everyday situations. The certificate provides students with a good foundation for obtaining a professional qualification in English.

  • Level of language proficiency: Intermediate = B1 according to the pan-European structure.
  • Preparing for the PET exam will improve your command of English, help you communicate while traveling, and speak with native English speakers to work.

To pass the exam you must:

  • Be able to express likes / dislikes, discuss them with others
  • Understand oral and written announcements, instructions
  • Be able to write personal letters, take notes during a meeting or discussion.

The test includes three parts: reading + writing, listening, speaking.

Parameter

Reading and writing

Listening

Oral speech

Duration

1 h. 30 min.

30 minutes.

10-12 minutes (for 2 candidates)

Ratings (% of total)

50%

25%

25%

First Certificate in English (FCE)

First Certificate in English (FCE) or First Certificate in English for Schools is a general linguistic qualification proving that a student is able to speak and write English well enough to work or study in an English-speaking environment.

  • Level: Upper Intermediate = B2 according to the European classification.
  • FCE is suitable for those who want to do business, study a basic or pre-university English course.

Necessary skills:

  • Ability to write short reports, emails
  • Skills to explain the idea, conduct a detailed discussion in English
  • Understanding TV shows, articles.

The exam includes five parts: reading, writing, using English, listening, speaking. The oral part can be postponed to another day, 2 teachers conduct an interview with 2 students.

Parameter

Reading, using the language

Letter

Listening

Oral speech

Duration

1 h. 15 min.

1 h. 20 min.

40 min

14 minutes (for 2 candidates)

Ranking (% of total)

40%

20%

20%

20%

Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE) - C1 Advanced

Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE), C1 - General qualification in English, confirming that English meets the communication standards of a professional business person or university student.

  • Skill Level: Advanced = C1
  • CAE is aimed at applicants - the exam confirms that the applicant can confidently communicate in English in professional and academic situations. everyday and official level

The exam participant must be able to:

  • Write complex reports and emails, take notes at meetings or lectures
  • Make presentations, express complex ideas in English
  • Understand various texts, from fiction to newspaper articles.

The CAE exam consists of five parts. Testing the level of reading, writing, using English and listening is carried out on the same day. Verification of the level of spoken English is carried out separately: two examiners and another candidate participate in the oral test.

Parameter

Reading, using the language

Letter

Listening

Oral speech

Duration

1 h. 30 min.

1 h. 30 min.

40 min

15 minutes. (for 2 candidates)

Rankings (% of total)

40%

20%

20%

20%

Certificate of Proficiency (CPE)

Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) shows that the student has mastered the English language for discussion and is free to use it in complex research and professional situations. This is Cambridge English's highest qualification.

  • Skill Level: Proficient = C2
  • The exam is aimed at those who want to Demonstrate to employers that they can use English for a management plan, graduate school or doctoral studies at an English-language university.

To pass the exam you must:

  • Understand any text or spoken English
  • Use and understand formal, academic, and spoken language
  • Negotiate, argue, discuss complex issues.

The exam includes four parts: reading, using English, writing, listening. The first three are held on the same day. Spoken English is checked on another day: two examiners with two candidates conduct an interview.

Parameter

Reading, using the language

Letter

Listening

Oral speech

Duration

1 h. 30 min.

1 h. 30 min.

40 min

16 minutes (for 2 candidates)

Rankings (% of total)

40%

20%

20%

20%

Business English

The modern global business world requires demonstrating to employers that the applicant can effectively communicate in English in everyday business situations. Cambridge business English exams include three varieties: Business Preliminary, Business Vantage, Business Higher. Examinations for all types of certificates contain three parts: reading and writing, listening is carried out on the same day, the oral part - separately. Speaking skills are tested by two examiners at once from two students.

Cambridge English: Business Preliminary

Business Preliminary (BEC) is the first of three business English certificates: this qualification shows employers that the applicant is able to communicate in English in practical everyday business situations. It corresponds to the level of Preditional (PET), but is focused on business.

  • Skill Level: Intermediate = B1
  • The exam is suitable for those who want to use English for business purposes. Studying in Business Preliminary (BEC) allows you to obtain the language skills necessary for working in international business.

Requirements for candidates:

  • Understanding of short telephone conversations, general business conversations.
  • Ability to discuss practical business tasks - orders, answers to common questions.
  • Writing brief business, emails.

Reading and writing

Listening

Oral speech

1 h. 30 min.

40 min

12 minutes

50%

25%

25%

Cambridge English: Business Vantage

Business Vantage, BEC Vantage is the second of three Cambridge business English certificates that confirms that test participants have linguistic business communication skills. He is Cambridge English: First (FCE) qualified, but focused on the business environment.

  • Skill Level: Upper Intermediate = B2
  • Successfully passed the exam will confirm to employers that the applicant has studied English sufficiently to work in the English-speaking business environment. Preparing for BEC Vantage gives you confidence in mastering the English skills necessary for success in international business.

The necessary knowledge to successfully obtain a certificate:

  • Understanding business reports and letters
  • Ability to express your opinion or discuss factual issues
  • Skills in preparing a presentation and writing a short commercial proposal.

Reading

Letter

Listening

Oral speech

1 hour

45 minutes

40 min

14 minutes

25%

25%

25%

25%

Cambridge English: Business Higher

Cambridge English: Business Higher (BEC Higher) is the final exam in a series of three Cambridge English business certificates. The certificate confirms that the applicant can confidently communicate in English in a business environment - it corresponds to the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) level, oriented to English for business.

  • Level: Advanced = C1.
  • The exam is taken by those who want to develop professional business English skills. BEC's top qualifications confirm the student’s willingness to work effectively in a demanding English-speaking business environment.

Requirements for participants:

  • Take an active part in business meetings, express your opinion and uphold it
  • Understand most business reports and read correspondence
  • Write detailed business offers and letters.

Reading

Letter

Listening

Oral speech

1 hour

1 hour

40 min

16 minutes

25%

25%

25%

25%

The results of examinations on paper will be available 4-6 weeks after the exam, on a computer - in 2 weeks.

Teaching Qualifications - Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT)

The Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) is a test that tests the level of skills required to successfully teach English to speakers of other languages. Suitable for teachers of all age groups and abilities, includes various test modules.

TKT will allow you to get an internationally recognized qualification confirming the development of knowledge and skills in teaching the language. A certificate is required for beginning teachers who want to strengthen their confidence and skills, or experienced teachers who want to specialize in a particular field.

TKT is a good foundation if the teacher plans to get qualifications in teaching English - CELTA or Delta.

All test modules are available both independently and in various combinations.

The main modules:

  • History of language teaching
  • Language teaching planning
  • Class management.

Specialized modules:

  • TKT Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
  • TKT Young Learners (YL).

Each module consists of 80 questions, Duration - 80 min.

TKT results are issued approximately 2 weeks after passing the exam. Results are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, where 4 is the highest score.

Exam Preparation Tips

  • Read expert advice on how to prepare for each module and work out different types of questions on the exam.
  • Perform practical exercises online or on a special simulator and get instant answers with explanations on listening, reading and using English.
  • Prepare possible answers for the successful completion of the oral and written modules, similar to the practice of previous years.
  • Study to apply various methods, practical exercises to prepare for each type of test.
  • Improve written and oral answers, which will help you gain confidence in answering questions.
  • Sign up for preparatory tests or seek the help of professional educators and centers - this will help to improve your knowledge of the English language and get qualified help.
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently working as the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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