Which Exam Should you Take: IELTS or Cambridge?

Sep 30, 2016

When documentation is required to prove proficiency in the English language, many non-native English speakers are unsure which examination to take. The two most popular British tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Cambridge English (CAE). Although there are some similarities between them, it is worthwhile taking a look at some of the key differences, to help you decide which one is right for you.

The basics

IELTS is taken by almost 2 million people every year. It assesses writing, reading, speaking, and listening. The CAE also tests these core abilities, and in addition, it has a paper on grammar.


The IELTS is valid for two years and the Cambridge result is unlimited for life. However, many employers are happy to accept an outdated IELTS score, especially if the person has remained in the UK and continued to master the language. With IELTS you receive a score from 4 to 8.9, while Cambridge is a pass or fail and you need 60% to get a pass. This is equivalent to a 7 on IELTS. University entrance demands a minimum score of 6 on IELTS. It depends on the degree and the institution, as some degrees need a score of 7.5. Generally, IELTS is required and recognised for university admissions.

The exams

The Cambridge exam lasts for five hours and the IELTS for three. This is quite a difference to take into account for those who have trouble in concentrating for long periods. Both have a section for speaking. In CAE, this discussion is between yourself and another student, and in IELTS it takes place with the examiner. The writing part of IELTS is one hour, and in Cambridge an hour and half. The other difference is that the subject matter to write about is fixed in IELTS, where in Cambridge you get a choice.

Frequency of testing

If you are in a hurry, the IELTS runs exams every two weeks, with a faster turnaround on results. The Cambridge exams are held every six weeks and it can take a further eight weeks for the results to come back.


The IELTS course is focused on the academic outcome, and is narrower in its scope. The CAE could be said to be "more fun" in that it has a broader ambition to lift and improve the general level of English and takes in more subjects. Topics can include literature, love, finding a job, and owning a pet.

To conclude, for overall fluency in and command of the English language, the Cambridge test is more likely to lead to an overall improvement. The IELTS is much more exam-focused but it is a better test to take if you are planning on applying to university. It is worthwhile weighing up all of these above criteria to see which one best fits your circumstances.


Add Pingback

Please add a comment

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

Category List

Tag List

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

Tag Cloud

english course londonEnglish vocabularymusic festivals ukEnglish grammarstudy tipsChristmas in LondonPlaces to see in LondonVictoria parkexamsdefining relative clausesenglish schoolenglish reviewSport Journalism CourseIELTSmaking predictionsgrammarenglish school onlineListening in EnglishEvents in Londonthings to do londonwriting a mini sagaJournalist Course Londonstudy english onllineTourist tipsgrammar tipsReading in EnglishVocabulary notebookFree english lessonsVocabularyenglish grammar tipsmini-sagaRecording vocabularyLearning tipsenglish as a foreign languageWinter in Londonwriting a mini-sagaShopping in Londonstudent study tipspronuciationJournalism evening course LondonBasic English mistakesenglish grammar helpthe people's towerEnglishJournalism MasterclassJournalism classes LondonPeaceful Londonfree english grammarWhere to visit LondonNew languageField dayCAEthe shardAttractions in LondonEnglish tipsCambridge Exam PreparationBeautiful LondoneflLearn english onlineLondon SummerStudentsWorld Naked Bike RideSomewhere to go Londonfuture tenses englishBarney Ronayspellingsagalondon eventsBusiness EnglishJournalism Course LondonFCEILECNew blogImprove your vocabularySomewhere to visit Londonmusic festival LondonThings to see in Londonenglish school londonCovent Gardenenglish study tipspast modal verbssilent discoLondon marketsHalloweenInsider info LondonLearn EnglishTweedFunenglish grammar onlineCool as a cucumberSocial programmereading tipspast modalsIdiomstudy englishIslington Centre for EnglishNew vocabularyThings to do in Londonnarrative voiceSomewhere to visitfuture tenses eflLondonRelaxing LondonHello from AllyHistoric momentPolite questionsCyclingFrancaisEnglish foodAdjectiveenglish courses londonICELondon Marathon


We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site and to collect data on how visitors interact with our site, products and services. By clicking accept, you agree to our use of these tools for advertising, analytics and support.