Business English

Cambridge English

Cambridge English (also known as ESOL) is a department of Cambridge University. Their English exams Proficiency (CPE), Advanced (CAE), First (FCE), Preliminary (PET) and Key (KET) are recognised around the world by thousands of employers, universities and government ministries as proof of ability to use English.

Cambridge developed the IELTS exam in conjunction with the British Council and IELTS Australia.

Cambridge ESOL have a range of business English examinations including BULATS and BEC.


Business English Certificate ( BEC)

The BEC exams are produced by Cambridge ESOL. They test your English in a business context.

What level is BEC?
There are three levels of BEC:

  1. BEC Preliminary (B1)
  2. BEC Vantage (B2)
  3. BEC Higher (C1)

Who is it for?
The BEC Tests are designed for individuals. They would be very useful preparation for someone studying on a business course

What are the BEC tests like?
BEC is published by Cambridge ESOL. The tests have four sections. Reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Where and when can I take the tests?
BEC is held on various fixed dates in centers worldwide. The tests are available monthly. Candidates must enter through an authorized centre. You can find details of dates and centre here.

Computer or Paper tests?
There are computer and paper versions of the test. Some centers will only offer one version. The speaking test is always an interview with an examiner.

Do I need to have business experience to take the BEC tests?
No, BEC tests your English in a business setting but you do not need to know specialized business vocabulary or concepts.

Business Language Testing Service ( BULATS)

What level is BULATS?
The Business Language Testing Service (BULATS) is a multi-level test. There is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. Instead you are given a score related to your CEF level.

Who is it for?
The BULATS Test is designed for companies and organizations. It is used to test English as well as French, German and Spanish.

What is the BULATS test like?
BULATS is published by Cambridge ESOL. The test has four sections. Each can be done separately.

  1. Computer test – about 60 minutes
  2. Standard test – on paper, 110 minutes. The test contains two sections: listening, and reading knowledge. The questions get progressively more difficult.
    • Listening
      1. part 1 – Understanding short conversations or monologues.
      2. part 2 – Taking down phone messages orders, notes, etc.
      3. part 3 – Listening for gist, identifying topic, context or function. Short monologues/ dialogues.
      4. part 4 – Listening to extend speech for detail and inference. Monologue/dialogue.
    • Reading and Language Knowledge
      1. part 1
        1. section 1- Understanding notices, messages, timetables, adverts, leaflets, graphs, etc.
        2. section 2 – Grammar and vocabulary. Gapped sentences with multiple-choice.
        3. section 3 – Newspaper or magazine article, advert, leaflet, etc. Long text with multiple- choice task.
        4. section 4 – Grammar. Medium-length text, with 5 gaps.
      2. part 2
        1. section 1 – Reading for specific information. Four short texts with matching text. New!
        2. section 2 – Grammar and vocabulary. Medium-length text with multiple-choice cloze.
        3. section 3 – Grammar. Medium-length text, open-cloze.
        4. section 4 – Grammar and vocabulary. Gapped sentence with multiple-choice task.
        5. section 5 – Reading for gist and specific information. Newspaper or magazine article, report, etc. Long text with multiple-choice task.
        6. section 6 – Error correction task. Medium-length text.
  3. Speaking – interview and presentation , 12 minutes
  4. Writing – two pieces of business writing, such as a letter or report, 45 minutes


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