Jay Dea, Director of Studies, Byron Bay English Language School

Jay Dea, Director of Studies, Byron Bay English Language School

Choosing between IELTS and Cambridge courses

Students at BBELS often ask us to describe the difference between the IELTS and Cambridge Mainsuite exams (FCE, CAE, CPE). Choosing between the different courses is important, especially if your objective is related to future academic studies, sponsorship or national citizenship.
Here’s a guide to help you select the course which will provide you with the best outcome.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System):

Why is IELTS useful:

IELTS is important for students who are interested in entering TAFE colleges and Australian and international universities. IELTS is essential for students who wish to immigrate to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. If you want to work in a professional job in Australia, the USA or British Commonwealth countries it is also necessary to do the IELTS exam.

It is generally advised that academic institutions do not accept an IELTS report that is more than 2 years old.

What is the structure of the exam:

Students can elect to sit either the General IELTS exam or the Academic IELTS exam. The General IELTS exam is useful for immigration purposes and to enter non-academic training contexts. The Academic IELTS exam is suited for students who wish to enter universities and professions that use English in the workplace.

The IELTS exam tests 4 skills: speaking, listening, reading, writing. The Academic IELTS exam tests students’ reading and writing ability at a higher level than the General IELTS exam.

  • Speaking: is divided into General Topics, One Prepared Topic and a Discussion with the examiner.
  • Listening: consists of a variety of question styles. Using correct spelling is important.
  • Reading: consists of 3 passages. Question styles include include multiple choice, writing words, matching and summarizing.
  • Writing: Students will be expected to write papers which Present and Support an Opinion; Discuss Problems/Solutions; balance Two Arguments

Who can study the IELTS preparation course:

The course is open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate-Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the course runs for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course for a minimum of 8 weeks. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.

The IELTS test can be taken at the Gold Coast, approximately one hour from Byron Bay.

 

The Cambridge Mainsuite Exams:

The Cambridge exams are useful for work and academic purposes:

  1. A pass in the First Certificate in English exam (equivalent to level B2 of the CEFR) indicates an everyday written and spoken ability in English. This is recognised by many international companies and educational institutions.
  2. The Certificate in Advanced English is recognised by over 10,000 employers and colleges worldwide. Furthermore it is approved by the Australian government for student visas.
  3. The Certificate of Proficiency in English is recognised by prestigious universities around the world as evidence of a high level in academic and social English.

The CAE and CPE exams are extremely difficult to pass without studying in a preparation course beforehand.

What is the structure of the exams:

There are 5 sections to the tests: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening, and Speaking.

  • Reading: There are long and short passages with different types of questions. Texts range from newspapers, fiction stories, interviews, advertisements and other media.
  • Writing: Two different types of writing are required. Possible formats include letters, reports, reviews, essays or short stories.
  • Use of English: Tasks that show grammar and vocabulary control are tested in this section.
  • Listening: Questions are asked about a range of recordings including news programs, presentations and conversations.
  • Speaking: This involves direct answers to an examiner, descriptions of pictures, pair work.

There is no expiry limit to the Cambridge reports.

Who can study the Cambridge preparation course:

The Cambridge courses are open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate to Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the courses run for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.
Our IELTS and Cambridge students always report that their vocabulary and grammatical accuracy improves dramatically throughout the preparation courses. The skills learned in the courses make our students much more employable both here in Australia and in their home country. Students also comment about the sincere friendships that are formed during the 3 months spent studying together.
Students are either tested here at BBELS or at the Gold Coast (approximately one hour from Byron Bay).

The next Cambridge start date is the 5th of January, 2015.

Jay Dea is Director of Studies with Byron Bay English Language School. Located on the Australian East Coast, BBELS prepares students for IELTS or Cambridge Exams.
Read this article in Italian: Cambridge vs. IELTS.

Search for more courses with IALC-accredited language centres on www.ialc.org/find-courses.

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Members of IALC share their insights on the language travel industry. Contributors are owners, directors, managers, teachers or administrative staff of IALC-accredited language schools worldwide.

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