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Lower or Pre-Intermediate

Level 3


  • Can understand the gist of a commonplace conversation in English, though not in detail, and can produce English well enough to take part if spoken to carefully.
  • Can also initiate conversation by asking questions on a range of everyday topics (e.g. sport, or food) and can perform most everyday social and practical functions (e.g. buying things in shops, going to the doctor) well enough to survive comfortably.
  • In reading can grasp the full meaning (content) including details, of simpler authentic texts (e.g. instructions on a packet) with the exception of a few of the less common words, including understanding the sense of most basic structures (e.g. verb tense and modals).
  • Can write coherent short compositions using simple but varied structures correctly on a variety of non-specialist topics (e.g.. telling stories, personal letters, giving and explaining an opinion).


Level 4
  • Can understand the gist of a commonplace conversation involving fluent speakers, provided that some allowances are made, or occasional help given.
  • Can produce well enough to make substantial relevant contributions (e.g. of an example or story clearly related to the topic) and to get full and satisfactory information from other speakers by questioning as necessary. Is functionally competent for all everyday negotiations except where completely unpredictable problems arise.
  • In reading can get the gist/intention of most straightforward (i.e. non-stylized) authentic texts and can write effective communications of information or opinion, but perhaps with a number of errors, or problems arising from inability to handle some of the more complex structures.

Upper Intermediate

Level 5+6
  • Can understand well enough to hold a continuous conversation with a native speaker, even where the speaker does not, or can not, adapt his/her language to a foreigner.
  • Can produce well enough to initiate new topics, change the subject, and generally take part in the management of the conversation rather than merely responding.
  • Can manage all normal life functions with ease, and cope linguistically with completely new situations (e.g. a negotiation in a shop not going according to expectations).
  • In reading, can understand the majority of any non-specialist, modern text and begin to respond to different 'registers' or types of writing.
  • Can produce fluent writing on most kinds of topic, including arguing for an opinion, and can use complex sentence structures without many errors.
    A learner at the top of this level should be able to achieve a good pass in the Cambridge First Certificate exam.