IELTS and Cambridge Exam comparison

Jan 30, 2012

IELTS vs Cambridge First Certificate and Advanced Exams

A question I often hear from students; "I want to take an English Language Exam but which one should I take? IELTS or Cambridge First Certificate (FCE)/ Advanced (CAE)?".  Well, there are many similarities and differences and I have put together what I think are the most important:


These are General English Exams. They not only test your General English, but a really good course should improve your all-round language skills.  They are a great way to develop your vocabulary, spoken fluency/ accuracy, writing and listening skills and your all-round confidence in English.  It's like taking a General English course with an aim to help you focus and get motivated.  Topics covered are very wide and can include The Environment, Love, Literature, Finding a job, Owning a pet, for example.  Marking is pass or fail with an added CEFR result (Common European Framework for Language Reference) such as B1 (Intermediate) if you don't get over 60% overall.  People consider the First Certificate as the level a student needs to function in an English speaking office environment.  First Certificate and Advanced Exams are valid for life and you can take an exam every 6 weeks.


Conversely, IELTS is officially valid for only 2 years.  However, as an employer, I am always very happy to see a good IELTS result on an applicant's CV, even if it is 10 years old.  It still demonstrates a the person's language ability or, at least, their realistic potential. Naturally, a student isn't IELTS 7.5 one day and then 5.0 in 5 years time, particularly if he or she has stayed in the UK.  On the other hand, most Universities tend to be stricter and only accept IELTS if it has been taken within the last 2 years.

IELTS is much more limited in subject matter.  Subjects are academic and can include Sociology, History, Literature, Sciences, Architecture etc.  In short, anything that you study at University.

IELTS is not pass or fail, it is a sliding scale of achievement from 0 to 9.  Most Universities want 6.0 or more for a course that is theoretical in nature and 5.0 for a very practical one.  Masters degrees generally require 7.0 or higher.

I only recommend taking IELTS if the student has a clear reason to take it such as:

1.  "My potential employer needs me to get a 6.0 to start work."

2.  "My University needs me to get 7.5 for my Masters degree."

..otherwise, my advice is, to improve your English in all areas, choose Cambridge First Certificate or Advanced.

Also note that IELTS exam courses tend to teach you how to get the best score possible in the exam, rather than making you a better English speaker, listener, reader or writer.

In summary:

First Certificate and Advanced Exams

    • General English Exams.
    • Better for your overall fluency and confidence in English.
    • Pass or fail with a grade from A to C.
    • Added CEFR level grade.
    • Valid for life.
    • Wider range of topics.
    • An exam every 6 weeks.

IELTS exams

    • Valid for 2 years for University but longer in reality for employers.
    • Lots of exam dates - every 2 weeks.
    • Academic language - the English you need for a University degree.
    • Courses are very, very exam focused.

ICE is enrolling now for IELTS Exam Courses, Cambridge First Certificate Courses and Cambridge Advanced Exam courses for day and evenings.

Best of luck with your English!


Category: news

Add Pingback

Please add a comment

You must be logged in to leave a reply. Login »

Category List

Tag List

Sport Journalism Course (1)
English grammar (4)
Polite questions (1)
Improve your vocabulary (5)
Journalism Masterclass (1)
future tenses efl (1)
english school london (12)
study tips (9)
Things to do in London (6)
writing a mini saga (1)
english grammar tips (1)
Fun (1)
Winter in London (6)
reading tips (1)
making predictions (1)
english grammar help (1)
Free english lessons (10)
Cycling (1)
Victoria park (1)
Attractions in London (1)
things to do london (1)
FCE (4)
Vocabulary notebook (8)
Journalist Course London (1)
free english grammar (2)
student study tips (1)
Hello from Ally (1)
New language (7)
Journalism Course London (1)
english school (2)
London markets (4)
english review (1)
ICE (5)
Vocabulary (11)
Listening in English (2)
Social programme (1)
Places to see in London (4)
Islington Centre for English (6)
Cambridge Exam Preparation (1)
Christmas in London (3)
music festivals uk (1)
the people's tower (1)
study english onlline (1)
writing a mini-saga (1)
Historic moment (1)
Idiom (3)
English vocabulary (3)
World Naked Bike Ride (1)
Where to visit London (3)
london events (1)
ILEC (1)
defining relative clauses (1)
Business English (1)
Peaceful London (2)
music festival London (1)
Learn English (15)
Basic English mistakes (1)
London Summer (7)
english study tips (1)
Relaxing London (4)
English tips (4)
CAE (3)
Journalism evening course London (1)
Journalism classes London (1)
English food (3)
english school online (1)
saga (1)
Students (2)
Somewhere to visit London (1)
pronuciation (3)
London (5)
the shard (1)
Learn english online (12)
past modal verbs (1)
study english (1)
silent disco (1)
Reading in English (1)
Adjective (2)
Somewhere to go London (3)
Barney Ronay (1)
spelling (1)
Tweed (1)
New blog (1)
narrative voice (2)
Field day (1)
Recording vocabulary (3)
efl (4)
London Marathon (1)
english grammar online (1)
english course london (12)
English (1)
Halloween (2)
Somewhere to visit (9)
mini-saga (1)
grammar (1)
New vocabulary (4)
Insider info London (14)
exams (1)
Tourist tips (5)
Francais (2)
english as a foreign language (3)
Cool as a cucumber (1)
Learning tips (10)
english courses london (1)
future tenses english (1)
past modals (1)
Things to see in London (4)
Events in London (1)
Beautiful London (8)
grammar tips (1)
Shopping in London (4)
Covent Garden (1)

Tag Cloud

Events in LondonTourist tipsStudentsHello from AllyNew languagewriting a mini-sagaLearn EnglishSomewhere to visit Londonmusic festival LondonHalloweenNew vocabularyenglish grammar helpBusiness Englishsilent discoPeaceful LondonThings to do in LondonChristmas in Londonenglish study tipssagareading tipsenglish grammar onlineRecording vocabularyHistoric momentThings to see in Londonthe people's towerlondon eventsstudy englishenglish school onlinenarrative voiceSomewhere to visitRelaxing Londonstudy tipsdefining relative clausesgrammarLondon SummerPolite questionsmini-sagaenglish school londonmusic festivals ukShopping in LondonIELTSNew blogEnglish tipsJournalism MasterclassCovent GardenLearn english onlineSport Journalism Courseexamsthings to do londonLondon MarathonLearning tipsFCEJournalist Course Londoneflthe shardImprove your vocabularyAdjectiveenglish schoolpast modal verbsEnglish vocabularyVocabulary notebookBeautiful LondonILECLondon marketsSomewhere to go LondonFunWinter in LondonSocial programmeFrancaisFree english lessonsVictoria parkReading in EnglishPlaces to see in LondonCAEBasic English mistakesLondonJournalism classes LondonpronuciationField daypast modalsListening in EnglishWorld Naked Bike RideCool as a cucumberEnglish grammarJournalism Course LondonEnglishBarney RonayICEfree english grammarIdiomenglish reviewJournalism evening course Londonfuture tenses eflfuture tenses englishmaking predictionsTweedAttractions in LondonIslington Centre for Englishenglish grammar tipsgrammar tipsCyclingenglish as a foreign languagespellingVocabularyenglish courses londonWhere to visit Londonstudent study tipsenglish course londonCambridge Exam Preparationstudy english onllinewriting a mini sagaEnglish foodInsider info London