Levels of your language knowledge

If you wish to pass an English language exam or just improve your knowledge, you’ll have to invest a lot of your time and effort. Without making an effort, it's impossible to succeed! You should start preparing and practising for your exam as soon as possible!

In a series of posts, we’ll collect useful information about the most prestigious English language certificates around the world. It will help you understand them better, and you’ll be able to decide which exam to take before studying abroad.

Language Levels

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) organises language proficiency in six levels, A1 to C2, which belong to three degrees of competence: Basic User, Independent User and Proficient User.  




A levels: A Basic User 

  • A1: Beginner
  • A2: Elementary 

B levels: An Independent User 

  •  B1: Intermediate
  • B2: Upper-Intermediate

C levels: An Expert User

  • C1: Advanced
  • C2: Proficiency

There is a precise description of what the learner should know regarding the four basic skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The expected level for a university study programme is B2 or C1. However, for specialised programmes, you may need a far higher level, C2. Most universities and faculties often list the minimum English score on their website or study pages. Check what level of English you would need to pass and with what score to avoid having issues with your application later. English is the most widespread language of instruction. A certificate of proficiency is usually needed to prove you've got proper English skills for courses in English.                                        


A PROFICIENT USERC2You understand almost everything that you hear or read without any difficulty in an almost native-like manner. You can summarise information from different sources. You can reconstruct arguments and stories in a logical way. You express yourself spontaneously, fluently using finer shades of meaning even in more demanding situations.
C1You understand a range of difficult texts and recognise hidden meaning. You can talk fluently without searching for expressions. You can use language effectively for a variety of purposes: social, academic and professional. You can write clear, structured and detailed texts on complicated subjects, showing that you can use of organisational patterns and cohesive devices.
AN INDEPENDENT USERB2You can understand the important ideas of concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation or profession. You can interact with near fluency if you concentrate enough. This makes regular conversations with native speakers quite smooth.  You can write clear, detailed texts on a range of subjects and explain your opinion on topics giving the advantages and disadvantages of different options.
B1You understand everyday spoken and written language on familiar issues that you often meet in work, school or leisure. You can handle the majority of situations that often happen in a place where the language is used. You can produce simple, logical text on topics, which you are familiar with. You can describe experiences, dreams, hopes and ambitions. You can give brief reasons and explanations for your opinions and plans.
A2You can understand sentences and regularly used expressions about areas of everyday situations like basic personal and family information, shopping, employment etc. You can talk about simple and routine tasks that need a simple and direct exchange of information including familiar and routine activities. You can describe your background, closest environment and your needs and wants using a simple language.
A1You can understand and use familiar, simple and everyday expressions and simple phrases. You can clearly express your concrete needs. You can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about your personal details, for example, where you live, people you know and things you have. You can have a simple spoken conversation if the other person talks slowly and clearly and is ready to help.

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