Very Advanced Exam Guides


The more advanced your level, the fewer language exam options there are open to you! As a very advanced "learner" of English, you may in fact be better obtaining an appropriate professional qualification in English (e.g. an MBA, MA in a relevant discipline) rather than an English exam itself. However if you want the satisfaction of a top level English language exam, try one (or more) of the following:


  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE) Exam

      The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency is the highest level general English exam offered by the University of Cambridge. It has been around for a long time and is still regarded by many as the benchmark level for advanced English. A CPE pass (C or above) is also widely accepted as the English language requirement by British and many international universities.

      Proficiency takes place mainly in June and December each year. There are 4 parts of the exam (Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking). Reading and Use of English is worth 40% of the total marks and each of the other papers is worth 20%.

      Proficiency is quite a popular exam - over 60,000 people sit it each year. Be warned however! It is the sort of exam that some native English speakers would have great difficulty in passing. It demands a precise, academic and analytical approach to language and is probably best suited to those who want to use English academically - for example as teachers, lecturers or translators. If you want to use English at work, the Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) exam is probably more appropriate.

      If you are thinking of taking Proficiency you are strongly advised to follow an exam preparation course first.

      Please visit the following website for more information on the Proficiency exam:

    • The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam

      If you are considering taking a higher degree at a British University (MA, MSc. Ph. D, etc.) you may wish to take an IELTS exam aiming for a very high pass of 7.5 or above. IELTS is very widely recognised by universities in Britain and many other English-speaking countries. It is definitely the first test to think about if you want to study for a higher degree at a British university.

      At Churchill House we run IELTS classes all year and have very experienced teachers that can help students achieve their best possible grades. The IELTS exam is not an exam that you pass or fail; it is a test of your current level of English and your result will be expressed as a score of between 1 (very elementary) and 9 (for the highest, very expert users). It is also an exam that you can take at any time - most centres offer the test regularly throughout the year.

      IELTS tests your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. The listening and speaking modules are the same for all candidates. However you can choose which reading and writing modules to take - the Academic modules are best if you are thinking of taking a university course. The General modules are suitable if you are going for secondary education in an English-speaking country, for work experience or immigration purposes.

      For more information on IELTS please visit the following website:

    • Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) Course

      CELTA is a qualification for people with little or no previous experience to start teaching English to non-native speakers. CELTA is not a language test. It is a qualification that allows students to become teachers themselves. It is a popular course to take as it offers great opportunities to travel and teach around the world.

      CELTA courses are available in three different forms:

      • Full-Time – usually 4–5 weeks
      • Part-Time – from a few months to over the course of a year
      • Online – combining online self-study with hands-on teaching practice

      CELTA courses are difficult. They not only test your knowledge of English language but test your ability as a teacher too. If either area is weak, you are unlikely to pass the course.

      You should really consider whether this is a career path you would like to follow before applying for a CELTA course. We are also more than happy to answer any questions you may have on CELTA courses or teaching English in general – we have a great deal of experience of both!

      For more information on CELTA courses  a personal consultation, please use our contact us form to email us with your questions or visit:

    • The TOEIC® Listening and Reading Test

      The Test of English for International Communication assesses the English of non-native speakers who use the language in their jobs. It is designed as a global tool that can be applied to any work environment where English is used. As a result, the exam is widely accepted by corporate human resource directors worldwide.

      The TOEIC® Test is very different from exams such as FCE, CAE or LCCI exams in that you do not pass or fail it. Instead you get a score which reflects your overall ability in English. The higher your score, the better your level. An employer may, for example, insist on a minimum score before confirmingyour appointment to a job.

      Churchill House is an officially Approved Test Centre (by ETS) TOEIC exam centre. The test itself is a two-hour multiple-choice test that consists of 200 questions divided into two sections - Listening and Reading. Each section is in multiple-choice format - you select the correct answer from a list of four possibilities.

      The test measures listening and reading directly and is also promoted as an indirect measure of speaking and writing. Studies with large samples of non-native speakers of English from around the world have confirmed a strong link between The TOEIC® Test results and an oral interview.

      There is also a TOEIC Speaking and Writing test. For more information on both The TOEIC® Tests please visit: