The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR or CEF): Learning, Teaching, Assessment, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe, including English language.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc. across Europe.

The CEFR divides learners into three broad divisions that can be divided into six levels; for each level, it describes what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing.

These levels are:

А – Basic User:

А1 – Breakthrough or beginner

А2 - Way stage or elementary

В – Independent User:

В1 – Threshold or intermediate

В2 – Vantage or upper intermediate

С – Professional user:

С1 - Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced

С2 – Mastery or proficiency


Comparison of CEF levels and scores
C2 CPE 8-9   905-990 90-100 Level 5 Mastery
C1 CAE,BEC Higher 6.5-7.5 110-120 785-900 75-89 Level 4 Expert
В2 FCE,BEC Vantage 5-6 87-109 605-780 60-74 Level 3 Communicator
В1 PET,BEC Preliminary 4-4.5 57-86 450-600 40-59 Level 2 Achiever
А2 KET    35-56 255-400 20-39 Level 1 Access
А1       185-250 0-19 Level A1 Preliminary


The international English language testing system (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration, with over 2.2 million tests taken every year.

IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment through more than 1,000 test centres and locations in over 140 countries.

IELTS is accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

You cannot fail the test. IELTS is designed to assess English language skills at all levels.

You will receive IELTS scores based on each for the four skills on a scale of 1 – 9, and you will also be awarded an overall band score. You can score whole (5.0, 6.0, 7.0) or half (5.5, 6.5, 7.5) bands in each part of the test.

Band scale:

9 -  Expert user

8 - Very good user

7 - Good user

6 - Competent user

5 - Modest user

4 - Limited user

3 - Extremely limited user

2 - Intermittent user

1 - Non user

0 - Did not attempt the test

You can take IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training – depending on the organisation you are applying to and your plans for the future.

IELTS Academic is available on 48 fixed dates a year

IELTS General is available on 24 fixed dates a year

IELTS has four parts – Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11–14 minutes).

The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are done in one sitting. The Speaking test may be on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.

You will receive a Test Report Form which reports a score for each of the four skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking), as well as an overall band score.

Results are available 13 calendar days after the test.

Test fees are around $200.  


Cambridge English Language Assessment is a part of Europe’s largest assessment agency - Cambridge Assessment.

Over 4 million people take Cambridge English exams each year in 130 countries. More than 15,000 universities, employers, government ministries and other organisations accept these certificates.

Many Cambridge English Language Assessment are also accepted for visa and study purposes in the UK, Australia, USA and Canada.

If a candidate achieves grade A, B or C and scores more than 60 points in their exam, they will be awarded the Certificate. This grade is based on the overall score achieved by the candidate.

If a candidate scores less than 60 points, they will receive a Cambridge English certificate stating that they demonstrated ability one level below. 

Grade A - 80 - 100 points

Grade  B  -  75 - 79 points

Grade C –  60 - 74 points.

Fees for Cambridge English examinations are charged by centres, they vary from region to region.

Certificates are issued through the centre to candidates with passing grades. For paper-based exams this is approximately 4 weeks after the results are released. For computer-based exams this is approximately 2 weeks after results are released.

Cambridge English Language Assessment offers a wide range of English language exams for all levels:

KET – Key English Test (A2): Reading and Writing – 70 min, Listening – 25 min, Speaking min. Fee - about $75.

PET – Preliminary English Test (B1): Reading and Writing – 90 min, Listening - 30 min, Speaking – 10 min. Fee – about $80.

FCE – First Certificate in English (B2): Reading - min, Writing - 80 min, Use of English - 45 min, Listening – 40 min, Speaking – 15 min. Fee – about $150.

CAE – Certificate of Advanced English (C1): Reading – 75 min, Writing – 120 min, English in Use – 60 min, Listening – 40 min, Speaking - 15 min. Fee - about $150.

CPE – Certificate of Proficiency in English (C2): Reading – 90 min, Writing – 120 min, Use of English – 90 min, Listening – 40 min, Speaking – 16 min. Fee – about $150.

BEC – Business English Certificates (B1, B2, C1): Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking.


BULATS (Business Language Testing Service) is a language assessment service for companies, organisations and higher education institutions. 

BULATS is designed to test the language proficiency of employees who need to use a foreign language in their work, and for students and employees on language courses or on professional/business courses where foreign language ability is an important element of the course.

The computer-based Reading and Listening test and the paper-based Standard test are divided into two sections – Listening, and Reading and Language Knowledge.

The overall BULATS score is not simply an average of the scores for the two sections. The program uses encrypted look-up tables to calculate the overall score as there is different ability weighting attached to the two sections.


Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is a computer-based test of English for study abroad and immigration. Typically, PTE Academic results are available within five business days.

Tests can be scheduled up to twenty-four hours in advance. Palm-vein scans, randomised test forms and data forensics are used to give universities confidence that your test score is really yours.

There are PTE Academic test centres located in over 50 countries worldwide. 

The score is based on performance on all items in the test. The range for the overall score is 10-90 points.

Scores for communicative skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) are based on all test items that assess these skills, either as a single skill or together with other skills. The range for each communicative skill score is 10-90 points.

Pearson Test of English General (PTE General) is an assessment solution at six levels of proficiency, which assesses and accredits general English language ability. These six levels are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF).

The tests consist of two parts: a written paper and an interview. You can take PTE General from hundreds of locations around the world.

The written paper tests listening, reading comprehension and writing skills and is marked by external examiners in the UK. The spoken test is assessed by trained local examiners and is sent to the UK for moderation.

All levels of PTE General are recognized globally and are accepted by universities, employers and national education authorities in many countries as evidence of a required level of English.

These tests are reasonably priced. The higher level tests are more expensive than the lower level ones. Expect to pay £50 for level A1 and £100 for level 5.

Your scores can be sent to as many institutions as you choose.


Educational Testing Service (ETS) administrates approximately eight million English-language assessments through its TOEFL and TOEIC assessment programs every year. The assessments are used by more than 22,000 organizations in 150 countries.

The TOEFL test of academic English is the most widely accepted English-language assessment worldwide, recognized by more than 8,500 institutions in more than 130 countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

You can do the TOEFL test on paper or on a computer. There two test formats:

  • paper-based test (PBT) 
  • computer-based test (iBT)

The TOEFL iBT test is scored on a scale of 0 to 120 points.

Each of the four sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing) receives a scaled score from 0 to 30. The scaled scores from the four sections are added together to determine the total score.

The final paper-based TOEFL score ranges between 310 and 677 and is based on three subscores: Listening, Structure, and Reading. The score of the Writing component is not part of the final score; instead, it is reported separately on a scale of 0–6.

The paper-based TOEFL is about $160.

Prices of the TOEFL iBT vary in each country vary from $160 to $240.

For more than 30 years the TOEIC test has been the global standard for measuring workplace English-language communication skills. The TOEIC test is used by nearly 14,000 businesses, organizations, and government agencies in 150 countries.

You can do one or both parts of the TOEIC test:

  • The Listening and Reading test is a paper and pencil test (2.5 hours).
  • The Speaking and Writing test is an online test (90 minutes). It is only available in some countries.

TOEIC Speaking and Writing tests are scored out of 200

The TOEIC Listening and Reading test  gives a score between 10 and 990

10 – 180 No Useful Proficiency

185 – 250 Memorised Proficiency

255 – 400 Elementary Proficiency

405 – 600 Elementary Proficiency Plus

605 – 780 Limited Working Proficiency

785 – 900 Working Proficiency Plus

905 - 990 International Proficiency

Fees are about $85 for each component