If you are a second-language English speaker looking to break into the job-market in English-speaking societies, you might be asked to prove to potential employees that you would be able to get along with English-speaking co-workers and clients. Or perhaps you are a university student, or a prospective student, looking to complete undergraduate or postgraduate courses outside of your home country.
You might also be in a situation where you do not need to prove your English level to any institution, but you do need to see for yourself if you would be able to succeed at an English-medium university or in a job with English speakers.
This is where Cambridge exams come in. Cambridge exams can assess your general English level. The exam results will help prove what your English level is, using an internationally recognised framework, the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). According to this framework, a student with a very basic command of English is an ‘A1’ student. While a beginner with a little more knowledge is known as an ‘A2’ students. This framework goes all the way up to ‘C2’, the highest and most advanced level. Knowing if you’re an A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2 student is extremely useful. You can tell an English teacher, or English-medium school or university, exactly what your English level is. This means you can be put in the appropriate classes or giving the appropriate materials. Knowing your CEFR score helps you avoid classes that are too easy or too difficult for you.
Your Cambridge exam results can also be useful in the professional world. Some employers may even require proof that you can speak English at C1 level, for example. The Cambridge exams are trusted and recognized qualifications that most reputable employers in the English-speaking world will accept.
Cambridge also offers exams for language-learners that need to use English in specific settings (they need to have a good command of Business English, for example). Passing one of these exams means you will have an official qualification that is recognized by over 20 000 employers and universities across the world.
How can I prepare for a Cambridge exam?
First, you need to have an understanding of what your current CEFR score is so you can avoid taking a Cambridge exam that is much to easy or much to difficult for you. A trained teacher can assess your current level. If you want to test at a level that is higher than your current level, you will need to commit to spending some time improving your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
Second, you need to use the appropriate material. If you want to take Cambridge’s B2 Business Vantage exam, for example, it would be best to study the kind of material you are likely to see in the test, instead of improving your general English level (though this will help, of course). Taking personalized, one-on-one lessons is useful here, since a teacher can point out where you are lacking and help you fill gaps in your knowledge.
Preparing for a Cambridge exam requires you to invest a lot of time and energy. But the opportunities you’ll have after passing, are priceless.