Various English proficiency tests are being taken up for gaining entry into academic institutions, acquiring work experience abroad and for immigration purposes. Certification examinations equivalent to these one-time tests are conducted by the University of Cambridge which also conducts IELTS, one of the most popular tests for assessment of proficiency of the English language.
The IELTS follows the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR), a uniform system with which the teaching, learning and assessment of all European languages for non-native speakers is assessed. It has three broad divisions that categorises the test-takers as A – basic speakers, B – independent speakers and C – proficient speakers. The IELTS profiles the candidates and tells them, based on scores, at which level within the entire band they stand.
A range of other language certifications and assessments provided by the University of Cambridge also test listening, speaking, reading and writing skills using the same parameters.
The Cambridge Main Suite Examination is a general English exam, available in different levels.
The Key English Test, Preliminary English Test, First Certificate in English, Certified Advanced English and Certificate of Proficiency are the various certificates available under this examination.
Unlike the IELTS which is valid for two years, these tests provide certification of achievement. These certificates can be substituted for IELTS scores in many universities.
The Business English Certification is a qualification taken up by professionals and students who want to improve their job prospects or study business courses overseas. This course is also available at the Preliminary, Vantage and Higher levels.
“Employees of various organisations including Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, World Bank take up the test for better communication and delivery at workplace,” says TK. Arunachalam, development Manager, University of Cambridge EOSL Examinations.
At the school level, the Cambridge Young Learners English Test is offered for students in the age group of 6 to 12 years. The three tests assess the student's proficiency at the basic level.
“We have been supporting educational institutions by providing training to teachers since it is free of cost,” says Mr. Arunachalam. It helps students develop their communication skills rather than the structural knowledge of the language.