- General English Examinations
- International ESOL
- Practice papers
- Perfomance codes
- Examination report
- Sample writing tasks
- Recommended booklist
- Classroom activities
- Tips for teachers
- Tips for students
- Guided Learning Hours
- International Spoken ESOL
- International ESOL Diploma
- International ESOL A1 Diploma
- Benefits of our exams
- Study Skills
- Online Courses
- Teacher Development Workshops
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are City & Guilds?
With over 125 years of experience City & Guilds are a leading provider of qualifications. We have over 8500 approved centres in around 100 countries offering our qualifications.
Are they the same as Pitman?
Pitman has been part of City & Guilds for over 10 years. Two years ago after a period of dual branding the Pitman brand was finally dropped and now all products use the City & Guilds brand.
What kind of English exams do you offer?
- We offer three suites of international English exams for work, study, teaching and travel.
International ESOL and Spoken ESOL - with general exams at 6 levels (beginner to advanced) for reading, writing, listening and speaking
- International Business English - a range of exams from beginner to advanced, focussing on the use of English in an international business environment
- International Teaching Qualifications - a certificate in English language teaching for candidates who are new to the field or are looking to improve their teaching knowledge and skills
What levels of exam do you offer?
The exams are set at the full range of levels from beginner to advanced, which allow you to start at the right level and then progress at the correct pace.
Many of the exams are linked to the Common European Framework (CEF) which enables you to understand how our levels compare to the levels offered by other exam boards.
When can I sit for City & Guilds examinations?
Exams are administered on demand*, at the centres' convenience. For precise dates and times, please check with your local centre.
*Please note that in Greece City & Guilds ESOL paper-based exams are offered 6 times a year on set dates.. For detailed information about City & Guilds ESOL exams in Greece please visit the following website www.cityandguilds.gr.
How many weeks before the exam date do I need to register?
Centres may set their own deadlines but 4-6 weeks before the exam date is an average timeframe for candidate registration. For further information you should contact your local centre.
Where can I register / sit for the exams?
There are 2000 centres worldwide offering our international qualifications. For a full list of centres please contact your local branch / regional office - details can be found on our website.
How much does it cost to take an International English Qualification with City & Guilds exam?
Fees vary according to the exam. This is due to the different degrees of assessment that are involved. Fees may also vary from centre to centre. Your local centre can provide you with all the necessary information.
Are the qualifications recognised by colleges and universities?
Our qualifications are recognised by a wide range of universities, professional bodies and employers worldwide. For full details, see our website. www.cityandguilds.com/recognitions.
Do I have to do a preparatory course before sitting the exam?
It is not compulsory to take a preparatory course, although we do recommend that you seek advice from your local centre regarding this issue. Generally our candidates benefit greatly from having completed a course prior to taking the exam. The course could be aimed at actually raising your level of English or even just giving you invaluable practice at completing the kind of tasks that you will meet in the exam.
Where can I take a preparatory course?
Contact your local centre - for a full list of centres, please contact your local branch office (see website for details).
Do I need to follow a certain course book?
You don't have to complete a particular text book. We do recommend certain materials to support you in your examination preparation however, and your local centre should be able to give you details regarding this issue.
Are there any recommended text books?
The list of suggested materials is currently being updated and will soon be available on the website. Your local centre should be able to provide you with further advice on this issue.
Where can I buy the City & Guilds materials?
You can order the City & Guilds published materials from the Branch Office or your local representative. Please see our Publications list on the website.
Is there support material available on the internet?
Your centre can subscribe to a Smartscreen service that will give you access to student materials to prepare for the International ESOL exam. We are also currently developing a list of free websites where you will find plenty of ways to practise your English.
How do I know which level I need to sit?
Your centre should be able to advise you on this issue by giving you a simple placement test. However most of our exams are linked to the Common European Framework. If you know your level on this framework you should be able to find the appropriate level for you.
Which exams are useful if I need English for my job?
We offer three examinations in our suite of Business English:
- Spoken English Tests for Business (SETB) - which assesses a learner's speaking skills for a business environment (e.g. presentations / phone calls / meetings).
- English for Business Communications (EBC) - which assesses a learner's ability to read and write the complete range of business communications (from email to memo).
- English For Office Skills - which assesses a learner's ability to proof read and produce accurate and effective communications in English (from reports to minutes).
Which exams are useful if I want to study and travel abroad?
To improve your general level of language or to study and travel abroad you can choose from the exams in our International English for Speakers of Other Languages suite. There are two exams that can be taken separately or together:
International ESOL - reading writing and listening skills (6 levels)
International Spoken ESOL - speaking skills (6 levels)
What's the difference between International ESOL (IESOL) and International Spoken ESOL (ISESOL)?
The examinations test different skills. The International ESOL exam tests reading, writing and listening skills and the International Spoken ESOL exam tests speaking skills. Both focus on real life use of English however, and they are both set at 6 levels (beginner to proficiency).
Can I take the International ESOL & International Spoken ESOL exams separately, or do I have to take them at the same time?
You can take the exams separately or together. It's up to you! You may want to have proof of your level over the 4 skills, or you may want to concentrate on specific skills.
What exam do I need to take if I want to teach English?
If you want to teach English you can take our ACE certificate- Access to English Language Teaching. It is not necessary to be a native speaker of English to do the course. It is not even necessary to have prior experience in teaching. You just need to follow the assessed practical course which teaches you language awareness, teaching techniques and learning methodology, and also complete the multiple choice exam.
Do you have any qualifications for young learners?
There are two exams for young learners ages 8-14:
- ESOL for young learners (two levels - basic and elementary) testing reading, writing and listening
- Spoken ESOL for young learners (two levels - basic and elementary) testing speaking skills.
The test tasks are lively and interesting and cover topics and contexts that most children at these ages find interesting.
How is my language assessed?
The assessment varies according to the skills that are being tested. Some questions are multiple choice, others require you to write or speak in English.
Your language is assessed by native speakers.
What kind of tasks will I have to complete in the exams?
Wherever possible we use tasks that are similar to the language tasks you would be expected to deal with in real life e.g. reading a series of letters and emails; presenting information; organising an evening out; making a phone call; writing a letter.
Does my teacher assess me for the spoken exams?
Your teacher may be the interlocutor during the spoken exam, but they will not be assessing your English. During the spoken exam, the interlocutor's job is to ask you questions and set up the activities that will enable you to demonstrate your abilities in English. Your performance is recorded and then sent to a native-speaker examiner for assessment.
Can I use a dictionary during the exam?
During the IESOL and EBC exams you will be allowed to use a monolingual dictionary.
How do you decide the results / what is the pass mark?
For most of the exams the results are decided on the basis of your performance and are marked according to specific criteria. If you reach the criteria set then you will pass the exam. Your centre should be able to give you more specific advice on the criteria you need to reach in order to pass the exam.
Usually the final mark is calculated from the various grades and marks you get on the individual sections of an exam paper.
For ACE your result is decided on the basis of course work and the results of an examination.
What grades do you award?
The grades awarded are: First Class Pass, Pass or Fail
Are there any sample exam papers so I can practise doing the exam?
We provide at least one sample paper on the website free of charge. In some cases there are additional copies of sample papers available on CD Rom (at a nominal charge) and support books that also offer specific exam practice. Your centre will be able to provide you with more information.
How will I receive my results?
You will receive your results through your exam centre. City & Guilds informs each centre directly.
What information do I get with my results?
For candidates that fail the exam we also provide a report with performance codes that gives you a clearer indication of the areas of weakness in your examination, providing you with key information to help you target your remedial work.
How long does my certificate last?
The certificate is valid indefinitely.
What's the difference between the old Pitman ESOL and the new City & Guilds IESOL exams?
The new exams are set at 6 levels and are mapped to the Common European Framework. The new exams employ more modern methods of assessment and are more communicative i.e. they concentrate on real life use of English.
What's the minimum / maximum age limit?
There is no age limit, although for younger learners (pre 14) we would recommend our suite of young learner exams if the levels are appropriate.
Unfortunately, if you fail an exam because of your performance on a single section of the exam, you need to retake the whole exam
with City & Guilds' own publications you are sure to succeed