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Comparing IELTS and

Cambridge English: Advanced


candidates
Presented by Nicola Johnson and Dr Andy Blackhurst

Overview
Cambridge ESOL Who we are
Cambridge English: Advanced
Comparing IELTS and Cambridge English:
Advanced

About Cambridge ESOL


Not-for-profit department of the University of Cambridge
Part of the Cambridge Assessment Group, Europes largest
assessment agency
150 years of assessment experience and world leaders in language
assessment

Offer a comprehensive range of high quality English language


exams in 130 countries since 1913
One of the largest dedicated language research teams in the
world

Over 3 million candidates per year take Cambridge


English exams

Global network of 2,700 test centres in over 130


countries

Accepted by over 12,000 organisations globally

Over 50,000 schools globally offering preparation


courses for our exams

The right level for higher education


The CEFR describes Level C1 as the level at
which learners can use language flexibly and
effectively for social, academic and
professional purposes.
Source: Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) Cambridge University Press (ISBN : HB 0521803136 - PB 0521005310)

Benefits of using Cambridge English:


Advanced

Valid and Reliable


Fit for purpose
Enhanced security
Proven quality
Flexible and well supported
International and fair

Internationally recognised
Recognised by over 2,800 universities,
employers and governments worldwide,
including:

Recognition in the UK

Accepted for university and college


application

Approved by the UK Border Agency for


student visas

UCAS awards candidates with Grade A


70 UCAS points towards their application
to university

Recognition in Australia
Approved by the Australian Government for
student visas

Accepted by nearly 50 universities and TAFE


institutions

10

For more information


www.CambridgeESOL.org/Advanced
www.Facebook.org/CambridgeCAE

Email Cambridge.Recognition@CambridgeESOL.org

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Comparing Cambridge English:


Advanced and IELTS candidates

Dictionary of Language Testing


Test equivalence
2. The relationship between two different
tests. Strictly speaking, this concept is
unjustifiable, since each test is designed
for a different purpose and a different
population and may view and assess
language traits in different ways as well as
describing test-taker performance
differently.
(Weir, et al, 1999)

CEFR- derives from


3 conventional learning levels
A
Basic User

A1
Breakthrough

A2
Waystage

B
Independent User

B1
Threshold

B2
Vantage

C
Proficient User

C1
Effective
Operational
Proficiency

C2
Mastery

Origins of the CEFR


The CEFR levels (A1-C2) did not suddenly appear from
nowhere. They have emerged in a gradual, collective
process that started in 1913 with the Cambridge
Proficiency exam (CPE) that defines a practical mastery
of the language as a non-native speaker. This level has
become C2. Just before the last war, Cambridge
introduced the First Certificate (FCE) still widely seen
as the first level of proficiency of interest for office work,
now associated with B2. In the 1970s the Council of
Europe defined a lower level called The Threshold
Level (now B1)
(North 2006: 8 Paper presented to the Intergovernmental Language Policy Forum The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
(CEFR) and the development of language policies: challenges and responsibilities Strasbourg, 6-8 February 2007)

Cambridge ESOL exams


and the CEFR
CAE
PET
B1
Flyers
Movers
C2
Starters
Beg-A2
Breakthrough
Level

KET
A2
1988
Council of
Europe
Waystage
level

FCE
B2

C1

1913
1991

1939
1981
Council of
Europe
Threshold
level

Council of
Europe
Vantage
level

CPE
C2

Effective
Operational
Proficiency
level

Mastery
level

B2 level?
Can understand the main ideas of complex
text on concrete and abstract topics,
including technical discussions in own
field of specialisation.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and
spontaneity that makes regular interaction
with native speakers quite possible without
strain for either party.
Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide
range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on
a topical issue giving the advantages and
disadvantages of various options.

Or C1 level?

Can understand a wide range of demanding,


longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
Can express him/herself fluently and
spontaneously without much obvious searching
for expressions.
Can use language flexibly and effectively for
social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text
on complex subjects, showing controlled use of
organisational patterns, connectors and
cohesive devices.

C1
The written and spoken texts encountered in most common
everyday situations can be dealt with at a level below that
reached by the C1 learner, but certain more difficult
situations, e.g. discussing abstract or cultural topics with a
good degree of fluency, demand this level of language.
Examinations at level C1 may be used as proof of the level
of language necessary to work at a managerial or
professional level or follow a course of academic study
at university level
http://www.alte.org/alteframework/level4.php

The Level relating results to


the CEFR

Statement of Results

IELTS
Specifically developed as a test for
University entry
So English for Specific Purposes versus
General English?
Has own bespoke rating scale

The IELTS 9 band scale:


9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

expert user
very good user
good user
competent user
modest user
limited user
extremely limited user
intermittent user
non-user

ALTE Can do Project


(Jones:2000)
Can-do Self-ratings and grades
6

Mean self-rating (logits)

5
4
3
2
1
0
C
FCE

B
FCE

A
FCE

C
CAE

B
CAE

A
CAE

4
IELTS

5
IELTS

6
IELTS

7
IELTS

8
IELTS

9
IELTS

Relating IELTS performances to CEFR


C1 level: Panel judgements for Writing
Initial and revised recommended average cut scores to the
nearest half band score for writing.
Round

B2/C1

Initial

6.0

Revised

6.5

Since a C grade on CAE represents CEFR C1 level, this project indicated that
CAE candidates at grade C would be at a similar level to candidates securing
6.5 on IELTS

Relating IELTS performances to CEFR C1


level: Panel judgements for Speaking
Initial and revised recommended average cut scores to the
nearest half band score for speaking.
Round

B2/C1

Initial

6.5

Revised

7.0

Since a C grade pass on CAE = CEFR C1 level, this also indicated that CAE
candidates at grade C would be at a similar level to those securing 6.5 on
IELTS

Empirical evidence for


comparing CAE and IELTS
scores
IELTS/CAE linking study 2010 based on 186 candidates
who either took IELTS modules in addition to CAE, or
CAE modules in addition to IELTS.
Equipercentile linking with presmoothing, as described in
Kolen and Brennan (2004), was chosen as the analytic
method for this study.

Linking study confirmed expectations re Writing and


Speaking but suggested CAE grade C candidates were at
a slightly higher level in Reading and Listening.

CAE
Paper
Reading
C cut score
Listening
C cut score
Writing
C cut score
Speaking
C cut score

Indicative IELTS band

7.0
7.0
6.5
6.5

Comparing overall scores


CAE

IELTS

Overall

Overall

Grade C cut
score

6.7

67

Comparing IELTS to Advanced


IELTS band scores
8
7.5
7
6.5
6
5.5

Cambridge English: Advanced


standardised score (1-100)
80-86 (Grade A - 80)
74-79 (Grade B - 75)
67-73
58-66 (Grade C - 60)
52-57
47-51

Thank you!
Dr Andy Blackhurst
Research and Validation Group
Cambridge ESOL
blackhurst.a@cambridgeesol.org