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 However, many employers are happy to accept an outdated IELTS score, especially if the person has remained in the UK and continued to master the language.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

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

Tag Cloud

New blogJournalism classes Londonfree english grammarVocabularyCambridge Exam Preparationstudent study tipsIdiomFunFree english lessonswriting a mini sagaenglish reviewAdjectiveBeautiful LondonCyclingStudentsEnglishNew vocabularymini-sagadefining relative clausessagaField dayHalloweenexamsThings to see in LondonLearn english onlinenarrative voiceAttractions in Londonenglish as a foreign languageICEChristmas in Londonmaking predictionsCAEBarney RonayInsider info Londonfuture tenses eflListening in EnglishTweedLondon MarathonShopping in LondonWorld Naked Bike RideLearn EnglishJournalism evening course Londonmusic festivals ukEnglish tipsVocabulary notebookstudy english onllineJournalism Course LondonIslington Centre for Englishenglish grammar onlinestudy tipsILECSomewhere to visitFCEmusic festival LondonBasic English mistakesenglish course londonVictoria parkstudy englishenglish courses londonEnglish foodenglish school londoneflreading tipsSport Journalism Coursegrammarwriting a mini-sagaenglish grammar tipsfuture tenses englishBusiness Englishsilent discoFrancaisSocial programmeenglish schoolImprove your vocabularyLearning tipsthings to do londonenglish grammar helpTourist tipsEnglish grammarJournalist Course LondonEvents in LondonRelaxing LondonSomewhere to go LondonpronuciationCool as a cucumberPolite questionsenglish study tipsRecording vocabularypast modalsEnglish vocabularyspellinglondon eventsSomewhere to visit LondonThings to do in LondonJournalism MasterclassCovent GardenIELTSHello from AllyLondon marketspast modal verbsWinter in LondonPeaceful LondonWhere to visit Londongrammar tipsthe people's towerthe shardenglish school onlineLondonReading in EnglishLondon SummerNew languagePlaces to see in LondonHistoric moment