Pretesting is a vital element in the Cambridge English examination development process. Trial exam materials with students before they are used in exams helps us ensure:
our exams are accurate and fair, with each individual item pitched at the right level
test content is appropriate and that people from all backgrounds can do equally well.
We do this by:
carefully looking at the answers from candidates in pretests
using complex benchmarking processes
listening to feedback from both candidates and teachers.
Pretests give students the opportunity to practise taking a Cambridge English exam using genuine questions under exam conditions.
After taking the Reading, Listening and Use of English papers, the pretesting students are given scores. Writing papers are marked by genuine Cambridge English Language Assessment examiners, and candidates receive information about how they performed in the Writing test. We do not currently pretest Speaking papers.
This helps students know which areas they need most practice in, and gives them experience and confidence in taking tests. For teachers, it helps highlight areas where their students might need more help.
Exams with fixed dates, (such as Cambridge English: Preliminary, Cambridge English: Key and Cambridge English: First), usually have a pretest window of about three weeks.
It is best if students take pretests about 6–8 weeks before their real test. This means that they are nearly ready for the exam, and so are at the right level. It also means that teachers will get the scores back in time to focus on any particular language areas in need of practice.
There is a cost of CHF 10.00 per candidate and results are received approximately 3 weeks after the return date. Please note that certificates are not awarded for any Cambridge English Pretests.