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Comparing Cambridge English exams to other exams

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If you have taken a Cambridge English exam and would like to know how it compares to other examinations, you should start by seeing where the exam that you have taken is on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

 

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The CEFR describes language ability on a scale of six levels, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language. Cambridge English exams are aligned to this scale, so candidates who pass them can say that they have demonstrated that their ability in English is at the level of the grade they obtained – if you have a C grade in Cambridge English: First (FCE), for example, you have demonstrated that your English use is at B2 level. Further information about the CEFR can be found here.

If the examination that you want to compare your Cambridge English exam to is also aligned against the CEFR, you can determine whether the two exams are at the same level.

It is important to note that, just because two different exams are considered to be of a similar level, does not mean that they are directly comparable. The format, design and purpose of the two exams that you are comparing may be very different. If you are in any doubt regarding whether a university, employer or other institution will recognise the exam that you have taken, you should speak to them directly.

Many of our exams also provide results on the Cambridge English Scale. This scale, which directly relates to the CEFR, makes it simpler to compare your results for one Cambridge English exam with our other exams. You can find further information about the Cambridge English Scale here.


Comparing Cambridge English exams to IELTS

If you would like to know how IELTS compares to other Cambridge English exams (and other exams on the CEFR), you can find further information regarding the research that we have carried out here.

You may also find the information about the Cambridge English Scale useful if you have taken a Cambridge English exam with results reported in this way.


Comparing Cambridge English awards to GCSE/A-Level English 

The relative levels of GCSE and A-Level English are measured on the UK National Qualification Framework (NQF). The NQF is a UK-only measurement system, used for some regulated national awards. Further information regarding the NQF can be found on the Ofqual website.

The NQF scale broadly corresponds to the levels of the CEFR, so some comparison between the levels of exams is possible.

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Although you can compare the levels of our exams with the levels of GCSE/A-Level English using the table above, it is difficult to directly compare them. Cambridge English exams are designed for non-native speakers of English and measure candidates’ ability in the core language skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking). GCSE and A-Level English are designed for native English speakers and measure quite different skills. If you are in any doubt regarding whether a university, employer or other institution will recognise the exam that you have taken, you should speak to them directly.

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