Every year more than half a million people from around the world take Cambridge Examinations. Of this figure, 4000 take them in Russia.
The Cambridge EFL Exams were established as a means to evaluate the level of English held by foreigners who want to work or continue their studies in an English speaking country. Universities, employers and state educational institutions all over Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada recognize them. Today, the system of examinations leading to a Cambridge Certificate spans all levels of knowledge of English.
Taking the Exams
It takes two days to complete the majority of Cambridge Exams. Candidates are only allowed to take a pencil and a rubber (eraser for you Americans) into the testing centre with them. Use of dictionaries is not allowed.
Only on certain days throughout the year are these exams administered. These days fall in March, June and December for the FCE exams; June and December for the CAE and CPE exams and in March, June and November for the KET and PET exams. The written part of the exam is taken on the same day all over the world.
All Cambridge Examinations consist of at least four parts or sections: Speaking, Listening Comprehension, Reading and Writing. From FCE level onwards, a fifth section 'Usage of English' is added to the exam.
Any international language exam requires some level of preparation prior to sitting for it. Cambridge Exams exemplify this statement. These exams consist of many different types of tasks and exercise which, to be able to tackle with confidence, need training for. Many of these tasks the candidate will never have encountered prior to the exam and without sufficient preparation, he or she risks becoming overwhelmed. This holds true even for those with a good command of the English Language. According to statistics, approximately 75 per cent of those taking the PET exam complete a preparation course first. Of this number, 60 per cent use a special textbook devoted to the exam they are preparing for.
There are several ways of going about preparing for a Cambridge Exam. You can elect:
To study independently using a booklet that can be obtained free of charge from the British Council. There are booklets for each exam containing a detailed description of that exam, examples of questions and even examples of the answer forms.
To buy a special exam preparation textbook published by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Longman Publishers.
To enroll on one of the Cambridge Exam preparation courses offered by the majority of the larger language schools of which Language Link is one. Such courses normally consist of two parts: developing your general language skills and training for the exercises to be found in the exam. The candidate will also have the opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills (with a native speaker) which is not possible with self-study. Likewise, before actually enrolling, the student will have the opportunity to take a diagnostic test confirming the appropriate level of exam for which the student should be preparing.
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