A Guide to Cambridge Certificate Exams in English - BELS Malta

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Complete Guide to Cambridge Certificate Exams in English

Are you looking for an official English qualification?  The Cambridge Certificate in English might be the ideal certification for your needs since they offer a variety of exams that cover different needs and levels. The Cambridge Certificate is an English language certificate issued by Cambridge University in England for non-native speakers. Every year, over three million people from 130 countries take the exams. The certificate confirms qualified English skills and is recognised internationally by various schools, universities and companies. The exams are set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and are offered in the following categories: General English, Vocational English (e.g. Business English), Academic English, English for Children and Teaching Qualifications. The certificate has no validity date, it is valid for life.

An Overview of all the Cambridge Certificate in English Categories

General English Exams

An overview of the different English levels and examination grades:

A2: Key English Test (KET)

The Key English Test (abbreviated KET) is the easiest test offered by Cambridge University. It corresponds to level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

B1: Preliminary English Test (PET)

The Preliminary English Test (PET) is a test that requires an intermediate level of English. It tests the four skills of writing, reading, listening and speaking, using examples from everyday life.

B2: First Certificate in English (FCE)

The First Certificate in English (FCE), sometimes just called First, is the first ESOL exam. The abbreviation ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages; since 2013 this exam has borne the new name Cambridge English Language Assessment. The First Certificate in English is an internationally recognised certificate and corresponds roughly to the TOEFL test in terms of requirements and level. It is also valid for life.

C1: Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)

The Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is the second-highest ESOL certificate. It enables its holders to study at British universities.

C2: Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is the most sought-after certificate. The CPE is aimed at non-native speakers who have reached a very high level of English and can speak confidently and without error in a variety of situations. The certificate is required at many universities for English-language degree programmes, but often the less complex CAE or FCE certificates are also sufficient. As the highest ESOL certificate, the CPE is also one level above the internationally recognised Business English Certificate of the highest level (BEC Higher). With this certificate, it is possible to apply to any English-speaking university in the world.

You can find further information about all the Cambridge certificate exams on their official website.

Business English Exams

Business English Certificate (BEC)

The Business English Certificates (BEC) are examinations for business English that are based on real situations from everyday business life. They are offered for levels B1, B2 and C1 and can also be taken on the computer. THE BEC is available in three different levels:

  • B1:Preliminary
  • B2: Vantage
  • C1: Higher

B2/C1: International Legal English Certificate (ILEC)

The International Legal English Certificate (ILEC) is primarily aimed at lawyers and law students.

B2/C1: International Certificate in Financial English (ICFE)

The International Certificate in Financial English (ICFE) was designed for the financial sector and is also aimed at students from this sector.

All levels: Business Language Testing Service (BULATS)

The Business Language Testing Service (BULATS) is an English test that companies and other institutions take to assess the English level of their employees. It primarily tests language skills related to the job in question. The test can be taken on the computer or under strict regulations in the company – both online and in paper form.

Cambridge Exam Costs, Dates and Venues

The cost of Cambridge exams depends on the level and type of test. However, candidates should expect to pay between 150 and 200 euros. You can only take the test at certified test centres. There are now test centres in over 135 countries around the world, mostly in universities, adult education centres or language schools. Here in Malta, too, there are various institutions where Cambridge exams are taken. BELS not only supports you in your exam preparation but also helps you with your exam registration.

How to Prepare for your Cambridge Certificate Exam

  1. Create a study plan – If you want to take your Cambridge exam in a few weeks, you should make a study plan to organise your days as best you can and get into a study rhythm. This will make it easier for you to study.
  2. Choose the right learning method – Depending on your learning style, you should choose your learning method. If you learn best visually, you should work with pictures, if you are an auditory learner, you can listen to podcasts, for example.
  3. Join a language course – The best way to prepare for a Cambridge exam is to take a language course. At BELS, we are happy to guide you through our personalised exam preparation courses. Here in Malta, you will find the best conditions to quickly take your English to a new level. You will listen to English radio, read English newspapers and speak with native speakers. You will improve your speaking, reading, listening and writing skills not only in our school but also outside the classroom.
  4. Be motivated – It may sound easier said than done, but you need to be motivated to improve your English and succeed in the Cambridge exams. Only when you are happy with your learning environment, your progress and your learning methods can you be relaxed about the exams and achieve a good result.

Get personal consultation and a study-plan based on your needs by writing to us at [email protected].


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