Advanced level exams
At this level there are quite a few options open to you .
You need to think carefully about how you intend to use English in the future and choose the most appropriate exam accordingly.
Click on one of the options below.
- I want to study English at a UK / other English-language university
- I want to teach English
- I want to be a translator
- I want to show that I can use English for work and business
The Test of English as a Foreign Language evaluates general English proficiency and is required for admission to over 2400 American and Canadian colleges and universities. It s now also widely accepted by institutions in other countries where English is the language of instruction, including most UK universities and colleges.
The TOEFL® Test, like The TOEIC® Test, is different from exams like the First Certificate or the LCCI exams in that you do not pass or fail it. Instead you get a score which reflects your overall ability in English. The higher your score, the beter your level. An employer or university for example may insist on a minimum score before confirming your apointment to a job or your place on a course of study.
The TOEFL® Test also takes place much more frequently than the Cambridge exams.
This is the exam to take if you want to study in a British or Australian university.IELTS is fast growing in popularity, and is increasingly accepted by American universities, and by businesses worldwide. At Churchill House we run IELTS classes all year and have very experienced IELTS teachers.
IELTS (the International Language Testing Scheme) is different from most of the other exams we talk about here. It is not an exam that you pass or fail; it is a test of your current level of English, and your result will be expressed as a score of between 1 and 9. (If you get a 1 then your English is obviously a lot less advanced than you think it is!) It is also an exam that you can take at any time - most centres offer the test regularly throughout the year.
IELTS tests your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The listening and speaking modules are the same for all candidates. However you can choose which reading and writing modules to take - the Academic modules are best if you are thinking of taking a university course. The General modules are suitable if you are going for secondary education in an English-speaking country, or for example for work experience or immigration purposes.
IELTS is very widely recognised by universities in Britain and many other English-speaking countries. It is definitely the first test to think about if you want to study at a British university.
For more information on IELTS: www.cambridge-efl.org.uk/
Alternatives: if you don't want / aren't able to take the IELTS, have a look at:
The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) is the highest level general English exam offered by the University of Cambridge. It has been around for a long time and is still regarded by many as the benchmark level for advanced English. A CPE pass (C or above) is also widely accepted as the English language requirement by British and many international universities.
Proficiency takes place in June and December only each year. There are 5 papers (Reading Comprehension, Composition, Use of English, Listening Comprehension and Interview). The Listening paper carries 12% of the marks; the others carry 22% each.
Proficiency is quite a popular exam - over 60,000 people sit it each year. Be warned however! It is the sort of exam that some native English speakers could never pass. It demands a precise, academic and analytical approach to language and is probably best suited to those who want to use English academically - for example as teachers, lecturers or translators. If you want to use English at work, the Certificate of Advanced English is probably more appropriate. It also tests your English at a very high level but it focuses on practical, real-life tasks.
If you are thinking of taking Proficiency you are strongly advised to follow an exam preparation course first.
For more information on the Proficiency exam in general: www.cambridge-efl.org.uk/
Alternatives: if you don't want / aren't able to take Proficiency, have a look at:
The Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English is a much more recent exam than the Proficiency (CAE was introduced in 1991) and it is a much more modern exam in its approach. CAE tests your ability to use English in practical and varied tasks, and you are marked as much on your ability to complete the task as you are on your use of English. CAE is accepted by many universities as fulfilling the English language requirement, but you may need to get a certain grade (eg B or above) depending on the university / course in question.
There are 5 papers in the exam (which takes place every June and December). These are: Reading, Writing, English In Use, Speaking and Listening. Each paper carries 20% of the total marks.
NB The more practical bias in CAE doesn't make it easy - to get a good pass at this level you will definitely need a good advanced level of English!
If you are thinking of taking CAE you are strongly advised to follow an exam preparation course first.
For more information on the CAE exam itself: www.cambridge-efl.org.uk/
Alternatives: if you don't want / aren't able to take the CAE, have a look at:
- The TOEIC® Test (Test of English for International Communication).
- LCCI Level 3 (English for Business)
- Cambridge BEC exams (if you have substantial business experience)
The Test of English for International Communication assesses the English of non-native speakers who use the language in their jobs. It is designed as a global tool that can be applied to any work environment where English is , and as a result is widely accepted by corporate human resource directors worldwide.
The TOEIC® Test is very different from exams such as CAE and Proficiency in that you do not pass or fail it. Instead you get a score which reflects your overall ability in English. The higher your score, the better your level. An employer may, for example, insist on a minimum score before confirming your appointment to a job.
The TOEIC® Test also takes place much more frequently than the Cambridge exams - at Churchill House, for example, we run TOEIC tests 6 times a year. It is therefore a useful option if you need a test quickly and economically.
The test itself is a two-hour multiple-choice test that consists of 200 questions divided into two Sections - Listening and Reading. Each section is in multiple-choice format - you select the correct answer from a list of four possibilities.
The test measures listening and reading directly and is also promoted as an indirect measure of speaking and writing. Studies with large samples of non-native speakers of English from around the world have confirmed a strong link between TOEIC® Test results and an oral interview.
For more information on The TOEIC® Test: www.toeic.com
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), though its Examinations Board (LCCIEB) offers business qualifications that are recognised by employers worldwide. It is probably true to say that LCCI is not so well known (or well-promoted!) as English exam specialists such as UCLES and The TOEFL® Test. On the other hand the LCCI has direct links with the international Chamber of Commerce movement, giving it unique access and insights into the needs of modern businesses.
The LCCI's English for Business exam (EFB) is a communicative written examination offered (4 times per year) at 4 levels. It is designed to test communication in business with tasks based on real business activity. There are 3 main parts to the exam:
- An extended writing task (eg a memo, article or report)
- A letter writing task
- A reformulation task (you must expand, reduce or selectively rewrite a text in English)
A 3rd level pass is accepted as the EFL requirement for entry into many universities in the UK and worldwide.
The exam can also be taken in conjunction with the oral test - Spoken English for Industry and Commerce (SEFIC). The Advanced level of this test (confusingly known as the 4th level!) consists of a 40-minute one-to-one interview with an assessor during which you must display a high degree of fluency in discussing a wide range of business topics.
The LCCI English for Business exams are offered three times a year.
If you are thinking of taking an LCCI exam we would recommend that you follow a suitable exam preparation course first. For more information on the LCCI test itself: hwww.lccieb.org.uk
Level 3 of the Cambridge Business English Certificates is an advanced level test of your English within the context of international business. It would be unwise to attempt this exam without prior business experience or study of the commercial world.
The exam is divided into 4 parts - Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking - and you will get two grades, one for Speaking and the other for Listening, Reading and Writing. Tasks are eminently practical - you will need to show, for example, that you can understand a range of business texts, engage in discussions on work-related topics and produce quite complex memos, letters and reports.
The BEC exam takes place in February, April, May, July, September and November.
For more information on the BEC exam: www.cambridge-efl.org.uk/
TOEFL and TOEIC are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service (ETS). TEST OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE and TEST OF ENGLISH FOR INTERANATIONAL COMMUNICATION are trademarks of ETS. This website is not approved or endorsed by ETS.
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