English Courses

Adult English Courses (Internationally recognized English Courses and Diplomas)

Key English Test (Basic Diploma) 

The Key English Test (KET) is an international examination sanctioning a basic level of the English language. It is the first level certificate offered by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations in England.

The examination consists of 3 papers:

  1. Reading and Writing
  2. Listening
  3. Speaking

A total examination time of the 3 papers is 1 hour 50 minutes (except transfer time). The examinee needs total marks of 50% in reading and writing, 25% in listening and 25% in speaking to pass the exam.[1] There are three pass grades: pass, merit and distinction. If the person taking the exam does not pass the examination, but gets a fair amount of marks, they may be awarded a certificate stating that they have achieved CEFR grade A1.


Preliminary English Test (Higher Diploma)

The Preliminary English Test (PETe) is an international examination sanctioning a certain level of mastery of the English language. It is the second easiest diploma offered by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations in England.

A preliminary exam consists of three main points: the focus, the ideas, and explanations. The exam consists of 3 papers: Reading and Writing, Listening and an oral examination. A total of 70% across the 3 papers is needed to pass the exam.

Cambridge University Press published associated material.

The level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to which the PET refers depend on the final result achieved:

  • “Pass with Distinction” is Level B2 (only from September 2011)
  • “Pass with Merit” and “Pass” equals Level B1
  • Level A2 in the case you don’t achieve “Pass” but you achieved this

First Certificate in English (Advanced Diploma)

The First Certificate in English (FCE) is one of the examinations available from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations in England. Its possession proves one’s adequacy in the English language, and its successful completion means that one is able to interact socially efficiently. The FCE examination falls in the grade A2, B1, B2 and C1. Its advantage is that its expiration date is throughout life.

The test consists of five sections:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Use of English
  • Listening
  • Speaking


In the reading section, the candidate is expected to answer a set of questions based on the context of three texts, which are approximately 350-700 words in length each. Types of questions include multiple choice, multiple matching or gap filling. This part of the exam lasts 60 minutes.


The Writing section consists of two parts. One is a mandatory task and the other is chosen from a set of five optional tasks. The first task is usually a transactional letter, which has a stricter format, and the second one’s type ranges from discursive compositions to articles, whose format is less stringent. One of the four options includes two questions based on a set of pre-set books. This part of the exam lasts for 80 minutes.


The Use of English section includes four tasks, whose types vary, including multiple choice filling, open gap filling, word formation and key word transformation. The error correction task from previous years was removed for the 2008 syllabus. This part of the exam lasts for 45 minutes.



The Listening section consists of a set of questions based on four spoken texts. The texts vary from news announcements to speeches and dialogues. This section lasts approximately 40 minutes. Some think the Listening section should be done first.


The Speaking section consists of a dialogue between you and another candidate. This section tests your ability in communicating. This section is divided into 4 parts. The first is a simple questionnaire between each candidate and the examiner. The second part includes a turn of 1 minute each of the candidates to describe the 2 photos given to them. The third part includes a dialogue only between the two candidates to describe together and talk about the photos given that all of them are related to only one topic. The fourth is similar to the third. This section lasts about 15 minutes (two candidates) and 17 minutes (when there are 3 candidates).


The overall FCE grade is based on the total score gained in all five papers. Each paper is weighted to 40 marks. Therefore, the five FCE papers total 200 marks, after weighting. It is not necessary to achieve a satisfactory level in all five papers in order to pass the examination. Certificates are given to candidates who pass the examinations with grade A, B or C. A is the highest. D and E are failing grades. All candidates are sent a Statement of Results which includes a graphical profile of their performance in each paper and shows their relative performance in each one.


Certificate in Advanced English

The Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is the advanced general English examination provided by University in England.

The examination comprises five parts:

  1. Reading (1 hour and 15 minutes)
  2. Writing (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  3. Use of English (1 hour)
  4. Listening (40 minutes)
  5. Speaking (20 minutes)

Each component carries 20% of the total marks. There are three pass grades (A, B and C) and certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve these grades. Candidates who achieve a grade D or E are judged not to have reached the required standard for CAE.

In the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CAE is ranked at C1 and C2 levels.[2]Candidates who have obtained an A grade are awarded a C2 certificate, those obtaining grade B or C, are awarded a certificate at C1. Like all the other Cambridge exams, once the exam is passed the qualification never expires. CAE is considered to be very valuable, and is a required qualification for international students applying to many British universities.

Grading scale

As of March 2010, the following grading scale applies.

Passing Grades
Grade A: 80% and above
Grade B: 75% to 79%                             Grade C: 60% to 74%

Certificate of Proficiency in English

The Certificate of Proficiency in English or CPE (as it is usually referred to) is the most advanced general English exam provided by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. The English level of those who have passed the CPE is supposed to be similar to that of a fairly educated native speaker of English. This certificate ranks the highest among the other general Cambridge certificates (CAE, FCE).

Examination parts

The exam comprises five parts/components:

  • Reading and Use of English (1 hour and 30 minutes)

The Reading paper assesses the ability of the candidates to read and understand texts taken from a wide range of sources, including fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines. They are expected to understand the meaning of written English at word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and whole text level. It includes understanding of text content, organisation and structure. In the Use of English paper, candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and control of the language system by completing various tasks at word, sentence and text level. These include gap-filling and word formation exercises, comprehension questions and a summary writing task.

  • Writing (1 hour and 30 minutes)

The Writing paper assesses the ability to write non-specialised texts types such as letters, articles, reports and reviews for a given purpose and target reader, covering a wide range of topics. The paper also includes questions on set texts. Responses are of 280–320 words in length.

  • Listening (approx. 40 minutes)

The Listening paper assesses the ability to listen to and understand texts taken from a variety of text types including interviews, discussions, lectures and conversations. It tests the ability to understand the meaning of spoken English, to extract information from a spoken text and to understand speakers’ attitudes and opinions.

  • Speaking (approx. 18 minutes)

The Speaking Test assesses the ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts. The paper contains three parts, which take the form of an interview section, a collaborative task and individual long turns with follow-up discussion. Candidates are provided with picture and written stimuli and they normally take the Speaking Test in pairs. In case a candidate doesn’t have a partner, they are to join another pair and take speaking part in a group of three or, alternatively, take it with another unpaired candidate.

Results and Grading

Each component carries 20% of the total marks. There are three pass grades (A, B and C) and certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve these grades. Candidates who achieve a grade D or E are judged not to have reached the required standard for CPE.

Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the centres.

Once awarded, Cambridge ESOL CPE certificates are valid for life. Currently, only a paper-based version of the exam is available, but from 2013 a computer-based form of examination will be introduced.

New version from 2013

From 2013, the exam switches to a new version consisting of the following four parts, each of which carries 20% of the total marks, except Reading & Use of English that is 40% worth.

  • Reading & Use of English (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  • Writing (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  • Listening (approx. 40 minutes)
  • Speaking (approx. 15 minutes)


The CPE can be used by those who want to work or study abroad, or to develop a career which requires language skills (e.g., business, medicine, engineering & TESOL etc.). The CPE is recognised by many universities and employers throughout the world, and hence it serves as objective evidence of a person’s English skills.


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