General English

If you’re a beginner wanting to perfect your language skills, whether you’re a student 12 years of age or above or a professional, we have the exam for you. Find which General English qualification suits you best.

Cambridge English: Key (KET)

Cambridge English: Key is also known as the Key English Test (KET). This qualification shows that you can communicate in basic English in everyday situations. It is the first exam in the series of Cambridge English exams for adults.

Level of qualification: Elementary = A2 on the Common European Framework.

Who should take this exam?

You should take the KET if you have done about 250 hours of study or practice and can speak, write and understand basic English. This exam is the first step in building your English language skills for work or study in the future. To take the exam you should be able to:

  • ask and answer questions about yourself and others
  • understand announcements and instructions when people speak slowly and clearly
  • tell people what you think about something you read or hear.

What is the exam format?

There are three parts to the exam. You do the Reading and Writing and the Listening papers on the same day. You may need to return to do the Speaking on a different day. You do the Speaking with two examiners and one other exam candidate.

KET / KETfS Reading and Writing Listening Speaking
Time allowed  1 hr 10 mins  30 mins  12 mins per pair of candidates
Marks (% of total) 50% 25% 25%

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET)

Cambridge English: Preliminary is also known as the Preliminary English Test (PET) and Preliminary English Test for Schools (PETfS). This exam shows that you can communicate in English in practical, everyday situations. It will give you a good foundation if you want to study for a professional English qualification.

Level of qualification: Intermediate = B1 on the Common European Framework.

Who should take this exam?

Studying for the PET exam will improve your English so that you can communicate when travelling or dealing with English speakers for work.

To take the exam you should be able to:

  • express your likes and dislikes, and discuss them with others
  • understand spoken and written announcements and instructions
  • write a personal letter or take notes from a meeting or discussion.

How does the exam process work?

There are three parts to the exam. You do the Reading and Writing and the Listening papers on the same day. You may need to return to do the Speaking on a different day. You do the Speaking with two examiners and one other exam candidate.

PET / PETfS Reading and Writing Listening Speaking 
Time allowed 1 hr 30 mins 35 mins 10-12 mins per pair of candidates
Marks (% of total)  50% 25% 25%

Sitting a Cambridge English Language Assessment examination in UAE

Register for Cambridge English Language Assessment exams in UAE

Find out when and where you can sit for Cambridge Engish Language Assessment exam in UAE and the examination fees. 

What to expect on exam day? 

Results for paper based exams are available between four and six weeks after you take the exam and computer based two weeks after you take the exam. 

Why the British Council?

UKBA - New english language requirements for spouse and partners

The British Council administers many exams which meet the UK Visas and Immigration requirements and can support your visa application. According to the UK Visas and Immigration announcement of 29 November 2012, any migrant applying to enter or remain in the UK as the husband, wife, civil partner or fiancé(e) of a British citizen or a person settled there will need to show that they can speak and understand English.

Most applicants will meet the requirement by passing an English language test and supplying a test certificate with their visa application.

See the full table of The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels to have a better idea of various exams.