English language exams and qualifications

Thinking about taking an exam or qualification in English for work, study or migration purposes?

This page has links to recommended sites to practise for specific exams and qualifications and sites which previous students have found useful. Your teacher can advise you on where to start with your practice.

We recommend that you study towards the exam but also work on improving your general English. See this practice for general English.

Some of the sites below offer paid resources as well as free ones. As always, we recommend that you use (and see whether you find useful) the free resources first before paying for anything.

Read on for information for different exams, or jump to an exam or qualification from the list:

 

Cambridge First (FCE)
Cambridge Advanced CAE
Cambridge Proficiency (CPE)
IELTS

 

Overview of Cambridge exams

If you aren’t sure about which Cambridge exam to take, try Cambridge Exams’ online test to see which level is best for you, or ask your teacher for advice. A lot of people start with FCE (which is CEFR B2 level) before moving on to CAE (C1 level) or CPE (C2 level).

Important: If you’re preparing for the Cambridge First (FCE) or Cambridge Advanced (CAE), make sure you check which specification the practice resources you’re using are designed for. These two exams changed in 2015. Older books and practice tests can also be useful, but make sure you are 100% familiar with the new exam before your exam day

 

Cambridge First (FCE)

This is an example of the Cambridge First (FCE) speaking test from Cambridge English TV’s YouTube channel. It gives you an idea of the level of language you need for the Cambridge First (FCE). It’s from 2015, so this is the new exam.

 

cambridge

Visit the official Cambridge pages for an overview of the First Certificate as well as official sample (practice) papers.

 

 

flo joe

 

Flo-joe is one of the best places online for Cambridge exam preparation. The Writing Class and Reading/Use of English practice is particularly helpful.

 

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Exam English has lots of practice for FCE listening, so if you find this part of the exam difficult, take a look.

 

1st 1st writingCertificate Writing focuses just on writing. That’s often the most difficult part of the exam to prepare for, so this site is well worth a look.

 

 

cae tests

English Online has a number of practice tests for FCE. Some of them are for the old specification, but lots of people still find them useful.

 

 

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Objective: First Certificate (FCE) is a popular blog. It has explanations of the grammar needed for the Use of English questions on the exam paper,

 

 

Cambridge Advanced (CAE)

This is an example of the Cambridge Advanced (CAE) speaking test from Cambridge English TV’s YouTube channel. It gives you an idea of the level of language you need for the Cambridge Advanced (CAE). It’s from 2015, so this is the new exam.

cambridge

Visit the official Cambridge pages for an overview of the Cambridge Advanced as well as official sample (practice) papers.

 

flo joe

Flo-joe is one of the best places online for Cambridge exam preparation. For Advanced level, the writing resources and word banks are very helpful. Students often find the video writing lessons useful – see the site’s YouTube playlists for these.

 

examtips

CAE Exam Tips has a comprehensive collection of general CAE advice and specifics on the different papers. They’re on YouTube too.

 

 

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Exam English has lots of practice for CAE listening, so if you find this part of the exam difficult, take a look.

 

cae tests

 

English Online has a number of practice tests for CAE. Some of them are for the old specification, but lots of people still find them useful.

 

sample writing

The Exam Writing CAE Writing section has lots of sample writing texts.

 

 

 

Cambridge Proficiency (CPE)

This is an example of the Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) speaking test from Cambridge English TV’s YouTube channel. It gives you an idea of the level of language you need for the Cambridge Proficiency (CPE).

There are fewer resources available for the CPE exam available online than for the FCE or CAE. The jump from CAE to CPE is from advanced to practically native-level English, so there’s an assumption that you can already use a great deal of vocabulary and grammar already, without any problems. Reading widely and listening to all sorts of things in English (news, academic essays, literature) will help you to improve your skills in general.

Here are some resources specifically for CPE exam practice.

 

cambridge

Visit the official Cambridge pages for an overview of the Cambridge Proficiency as well as official sample (practice) papers.

 

flo joe

Flo-joe is one of the best places online for Cambridge exam preparation. The CPE Writing Class and word transformation exercises may be helpful.

 

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Exam English has lots of practice for FCE listening, so if you find this part of the exam difficult, take a look.

cae tests

 

English Online has practice tests for CPE.

 

 

IELTS

Important: Make sure you choose information and practice suitable for the stream of IELTS you are practising for: migration, study or work. You can read more about the different IELTS tests here.

IELTS is one of the most popular qualifications to take if you want to study at university in an English-speaking country or if you want to settle in the UK.

It’s really important that you check what band (score) and which version of IELTS you need for your study, work or migration goal because it varies widely for different situations. For universities, this means checking for the exact course you want to apply for (usually possibly via the university’s own site).

 

IELTS main

 

The official IELTS site is the best place to familiarise yourself with the different streams of IELTS and what’s involved. You can also check out their official YouTube account.

ihlondon

 

International House London has a good ‘All About IELTS‘ guide and offers preparation tips and advice for improving your skills.

 

IELTS Liz

 

IELTS Liz‘s video lessons and model writing answers are very popular. She’s also on YouTube.

 

Dominic Cole’s IELTS site is comprehensive and has lots of videos to introduce you to the exam and help you to prepare. See his YouTube account too.

 

IELTS Ryan

Ryan Higgin’s IELTS site has good tips for using more complex vocabulary to achieve higher scores in IELTS, model writing answers and an IELTS listening podcast section. See also his YouTube account.

 

IELTS BuddyIELTS Buddy has step-by-step advice on answering different types of writing questions and has a helpful listening practice section. Visit also the YouTube account.

 

IELTS Adv

IELTS Advantage breaks down questions to help you see what the examiner is looking for and has tips for understanding the questions asked in the exam. The site is also on YouTube.

 

IELTSblog

IELTS-Blog is useful to see the difference between different writing bands. It also gives corrected writing answers, so you can see the mistakes people often make.