Cambridge Assessment English



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Compare Cambridge Assessment English and IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

Make a choice based on the objectives of each exam and your personal projects.

Every certification has a specific purpose, but they will all help you connect to the world. In order to help you choose the exam most suitable to your needs, below is a list with the main differences between IELTS and Cambridge Assessment in terms of exam structure, scores and validity.

While Cambridge Assessment English offers an exam for each individual CEFR level, IELTS exam is a unique test (available in academic and general version).

Based on the total score (ranging from 1 to 9, with the possibility of half points) that the candidate reaches, a certain level is certified.

Cambridge Assessment English exams are based on a scale with a maximum score of 230, segmented for each level (see the scale below).

Candidates can pass the exam with three Grades: Grade C, Grade B and Grade A (the latter is the highest). Candidates who do not reach the minimum score to pass the exam may receive the certificate attesting the previous level, if their score is within a certain range. Furthermore, candidates may exceed the maximum score of the level reaching the first points of the next one: in this case, this information will be stated on the certificate.

Three examples

  • I sat B2 First (FCE) exam. In order to pass, I needed a minimum score of 160, though I failed as my final score was 156. Will I receive a certificate? Level B1 (lower than B2), is when the final score is 140-159. For this reason, you will receive an official B1 certificate.
  • I sat C1 Advanced (CAE) exam. In order to pass, I needed a minimum score of 180, though my result was ‘not reported’. Will I receive a B2 certificate? Candidates who receive ‘Not reported’ as final score, did not reach the minimum score for the exam level, nor that of the previous level. For this reason, no certificates will be issued.
  • I sat B1 Preliminary (PET) exam. The maximum score for level B1 is 159, but I passed the exam with 162 points. Will I receive a B2 First (FCE) certificate? Candidates who excel at the exam, may reach the first points of the next level. This is specified on the certificate which, however, in this case remains a B1 Preliminary (PET) certificate.

IELTS certificates expire after 2 years. Cambridge Assessment English certificates have no expiry date, although many Bodies may not accept them after a certain period of time, at their discretion.

Here is the detailed scale for Cambridge Assessment English and IELTS exams:


Here is a summary of their differences:

IELTS Cambridge Assessment English
Why is this test important? Immigration and university enrolment in UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand Exams recognized by more than 25.000 universities, employers and governments around the world
Cost Contact us Contact us
Duration 175 minutes From 110 to 236 minutes, according to the version of the test
Results 13 days From 14 to 40 days, according to the version of the test
Exam Venue Authorized exam centres Language Point
Validity 2 years No expiry date
For University applications GB (often), Australia and Canada (sometimes) GB (often: generally only higher levels)
Immigration? GB, Canada, Australia GB
Work? Yes Yes
School or company evaluation? No Yes


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