The different English certificates and their equivalent levels

Nov 24, 2020

#Cambridge #Trinity #Toeic #Examen de inglés

The different English certificates and their equivalent levels

In today's article we want to help you prepare for an exam that officially certifies your level of English. Possibly you are a bit lost with that of the levels and the different certificates that you can obtain; Don't worry, after this clarification you will surely be able to organize yourself and decide on the certificate and level of English that suit your knowledge and needs.


English levels: what are they and how do they differ


In case you don't know, there is a division of levels in all languages, standardized by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR), through which it is possible to determine, depending on the students' knowledge, what level they have and what content they should control and dominate. The CEFR establishes the level for both oral and written comprehension, and also for oral and written expressions of the study language. In other words, each of the established levels recognizes the abilities of students in these different areas.

The levels of the CEFR and skills should handle English learners in each they are:

Level A1 : it is a basic, introductory level, which serves as a substrate so that the student can continue and deepen the English language. This certificate recognizes the student's ability to transmit very simple ideas and be able to communicate in an essential way in the foreign language. It allows to understand and learn frequent expressions of daily use, to be able to introduce oneself and to introduce others, making reference to his home, his belongings, his daily activities and descriptions of himself or the people he knows. You will be able to understand a native speaking slowly, with simple expressions of everyday life.

Level A2 : refers to an initial level, but somewhat more advanced than the previous one, through which the student can talk about himself, his profession, family, neighborhood, home, work, shopping ... From this level the student must already have a base both in the oral and written part, both of their expression and understanding. You must begin to write, begin to have conversations, listen to them and interpret them.

Level B1 : the student already has knowledge that brings him closer to the intermediate level of English. They must be able to understand somewhat more elaborate texts, to be able to develop orally in a spontaneous way in familiar situations, such as work, friends, shopping, families or on a trip to an English-speaking country. The texts of these students are simple, but they must already be establishing and using some more complex writing techniques such as the use of connectors, using familiar or general and everyday topics; They will also be able to give their opinion on simple topics, give advice, express wishes, etc.

Level B2 : at this level the student is already fluent enough to perform communicative acts with native speakers in a natural and spontaneous way. You will be able to write much more elaborate texts, based on details, focused on more general and complex topics. If you are a specialist in a certain area, with this level you can understand and express yourself through elementary technical vocabulary.

Level C1 : this is one of the last levels to which the student can aspire, since their knowledge of English is almost complete. You will be able to understand long texts, with specific vocabulary, as well as understand texts on abstract topics. The student must already be prepared to use the language in a flexible and fast way both in social, work and academic areas. It should also do with both oral and written expression, in which their texts and speeches use the necessary elements that allow a good articulation of the text and its undeniable internal cohesion. They will be able to relate perfectly with natives in any situation.

Level C2 : refers to the last level of study. Students have the ability to function orally and in writing under any circumstance, in any situation, fluently and naturally, practically like a native.


The different English certificates


Each of the levels seen above may be recognized by the different English certifications that are currently available. There are certificates issued by different universities, that will be the organizational criteria to show you what they are, some of them have very specific levels and objectives. Pay attention to the following classification in which you can check what level and certification is the one you need and can do; We are going to, within each university, divide them into levels, explaining the fundamental characteristics of each one of them:

  1. Certificates issued by the University of Cambridge :

-Among the general exams, the following stand out:

  • Pre A1 Starters : it is the first of the three exams designed for the little ones . All this range of exams helps children start their way of learning English in a fun way and are an excellent way for them to gain confidence and improve their English. The tests are written around familiar topics and focus on the skills that are necessary to communicate effectively in English, that is, Listening Comprehension or Listening , Oral expression or Speaking , Reading Comprehension or Reading and Written expression or Writing .
  • A1 Movers: It is the second of three exams designed for the little ones. They introduce children to everyday written and spoken English and are an excellent way for them to gain confidence and improve their English. The tests are written around familiar topics and focus on the skills that are necessary to communicate effectively in English, that is, Listening , Speaking , Reading and Reading. written expression ( Writing ).
  • A2 Flyers: it is the third of the three exams designed for children. It introduces them to everyday written and spoken English and is an excellent way for them to gain confidence and improve their English. The tests are written around familiar topics and focus on the skills that are necessary to communicate effectively in English, that is, Listening , Speaking , Reading and Reading. written expression ( Writing ).
  • A2 Key for Schools : demonstrates that the student can communicate in English in simple, everyday situations. It is the next step after the Starters, Movers and Flyers exams, and also a good starting point for elementary students to start learning English. The exam gives students the confidence to prepare for higher-level English exams. The content is directed at school-age students.
  • A2 Key : prove that you can communicate in English in simple, everyday situations. The exam tests the four language skills in English: Reading Comprehension (Reading) , Written Expression (Writing) Listening Comprehension (Listening) and Oral Expression (Speaking) With this qualification, you will have the confidence to tackle higher level exams.
  • B1 Preliminary for Schools : demonstrates that the student masters the fundamental aspects of English and possesses the language skills necessary for daily use. B1 Preliminary for Schools targets school-age students.
  • B1 Preliminary : shows that you have mastered the fundamental aspects of English and have the necessary language skills for everyday use.
  • B1 Business Preliminary : you demonstrate to companies that you have a level of English that is required for practical and everyday use in the business environment. It is based on everyday work and business tasks and is designed to develop your English skills in business.
  • B2 First for Schools : demonstrates that the student has the language skills necessary to communicate in an English-speaking environment. It is also a great way to prepare for higher level exams. B2 First for Schools is focused on school-age students.
  • B2 First : you demonstrate to the world that you have the language skills necessary to live and work independently in an English-speaking country, as well as to study courses taught in English.
  • B2 Business Vantage : you show companies that you are ready to work internationally. This exam helps you when you get a job, a job promotion or develop your professional career. It is based on everyday work and business tasks and is designed to develop your English skills in business.
  • C1 Advanced : helps you obtain the language skills necessary to develop to the fullest at study, at work and to reside in English-speaking countries. More than 8,000 educational institutions, companies and official organizations around the world accept C1 Advanced as proof of high performance in learning English.
  • C1 Business Higher : you demonstrate to companies that you have reached an advanced level in Business English. It is based on everyday work and business tasks and is designed to develop your English skills in business
  • C2 Proficiency : show the world that you are proficient in English at an exceptional level. Prove that you can communicate with the fluency and complexity of a highly trained English speaker. Preparing for the exam and passing it implies that you have the level of English necessary to study or work in a very high-ranking professional or academic environment, for example in postgraduate or doctoral programs.

 TOEFL test

It is an English test that measures the ability to understand and use English in a university environment. In relation to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, what will determine your level will be the score you obtain: between 57-86, it is equivalent to having a B1 level of English, that is, an intermediate level; between 87-109 is similar to having a B2 level, which is high intermediate; between 110-120 are equivalent to level C1 which is a high level. It assesses the skills in four skills: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking and writing. You can take the different types of exam:

  • IBT: (Internet Based Test), it is an exam via the internet and so far it is the most used by different institutions in the world. Includes written and spoken skills.
  • PBT: (Paper Based Test), it is a traditional exam that is given in printed format. Due to technological advancement, this test is for students who live in areas that do not have an Internet-based testing center. It still exists, but soon ETS will completely replace it with IBT.
  • ITP: (Institutional Testing Program), it is a traditional exam that is presented on paper. And it will only be useful if you have to present an English knowledge test for an institution in your country.  

- TOEIC exam

It is an official English exam that is carried out to certify the knowledge of the language for a work environment, it is requested mainly by companies in the United States. They request it as an entry requirement and include it in their employee training programs. This exam is not passed or suspended either, it can reach 990 points that companies take into account to analyze the command of the language of the person who demands a position. It is a multiple choice test, made up of 200 questions, with four answer options in each one. The questions are formulated in writing and by audio to assess both reading and listening comprehension.


It admits two possibilities: an academic test (IELTS academic) and another for work purposes (IELTS general training). While the first accredits the knowledge of English required by a foreign education center, the second is aimed at those who must justify a certain domain to access a job. In this case, both tests assess knowledge of British English, both grammar and pronunciation. This exam comes from the University of Cambridge and the British Council. A grade is obtained that is a number between 1 and 9. The IELTS is divided into four tests: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The types of exam are:

  • Academic: measure if your level of English is correct to be able to develop in an academic environment, in higher education. It is necessary to obtain at least a 6.5, which is the minimum grade that you will be asked for anywhere this certificate is required, which may correspond to a B1 level.
  • General Training: ideal for people who want to obtain a visa when they want to emigrate to an English-speaking country, it can also be used to enroll in a training program below degree level and to gain professional experience. Recognize and enable a series of basic skills that you would need to be able to function in a job or to live in an English-speaking country. You will also need a minimum grade of 6.5, roughly equivalent to a B1 level.


It is an English test with fast and accurate resultsIt is a multilevel test that can be carried out through a computer individually or in groups. It presents the novelty of letting the candidate choose what he wants. That is, the candidate can choose to take the Speaking exam, for example, or Speaking and Writing. Always following the guidelines of the Common European Framework, Linguaskill evaluates giving results in just 48 hours. It is very effective, since they themselves tell you what your level is, depending on the results you get in the tests, which will be adapted to the answers you give. It is very useful to enter a university, work in certain companies that request it ...

 Trinity College Certificates:

ISE are tests that assess the four language skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading, according to the CEFR. These exams are especially focused on the practical use of English, and especially on oral and written production. This is an important test of the ability to communicate effectively in English. They are multi-competence exams (4 skills) in which the candidate must demonstrate their abilities to read, write, understand and speak in real situations. They differ from other exams in that candidates perform real tasks in English, not purely academic exercises. The exams are those corresponding to the Common European Framework, from level A2 to level C1:

  • Ise Foundation a2
  • ISE I B1
  • ISE II B2
  • ISE III C1
  • ISE IV C2

GESE this exam is intended for candidates who have learned English as a foreign language, second language or additional language, since what it certifies is the knowledge of oral English. There are 12 GESE degrees , which are grouped into four stages: initial, elementary, intermediate and advanced. Candidates must be at least 5 years old at the time of the exam. The different exams are: 

  • GESE I - the only official English test adapted for children.
  • GESE 2 - A2.1
  • GESE 3 - A2.2
  • GESE 4 - A3.3
  • GESE 5 - B1.1
  • GESE 6 - B1.2
  • GESE 7 - B2.1
  • GESE 8 - B2.2
  • GESE 9 - B2.3
  • GESE 10 - C1.1
  • GESE 11 - C1.2
  • GESE 12 - C2.1

-The SEW exam assesses oral skills applied to the world of work. That is, it assesses, in a general way, the ability to maintain a telephone conversation, follow and participate in meetings, make presentations both formally and informally, in addition to controlling the basic vocabulary of this type of environment. The SEW exams consist of 4 different levels, which correspond to B1, B2, B2 +, C1.

Differences between Cambridge exams and Trinity exams

If you are not sure which type of certification to choose, pay attention to the differences between the different schools and their exams:

  • Cambridge: exams have a more academic focus. It consists of 4 parts: Speaking, Listening, Writing and Reading, having to pass all the parts to obtain the degree. They have a specific level of business (business English) and legal (legal English). If the grade required to pass is not reached, but we stay above 45%, the lower level will be certified. If you fail one or more parts, you have to take the entire exam.
  • Trinity: has a more professional approach. It is divided into two tests: Reading-Writing and Speaking-Listening. Both have to be approved to obtain the degree. But it has an advantage and that is that you can pass the parts of the exam separately and the organization saves the note for you, so that you only have to present yourself (to obtain the full title). To pass, you only have to get 50% in each of the parts.
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