When somebody takes an English test, they get a score. Sometimes that score is a grade, and sometimes it is a label, for example 'beginner' or 'advanced'. Some English grading systems are for a particular English test, while others are used for any kind of proficiency tests.
What is CEFR?
CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) designed by the Council of Europe describes language proficiency levels of learners of foreign languages. It can apply to any European language, but nowadays, it is used more specifically for English. It is consisted of six reference English levels as the global standard for grading a person’s language proficiency. It is common to use CEFR levels in resumes and other English levels references.
Six Levels of CEFR
CEFR describes language ability and competence in six levels:
- A1 (Beginner)
- A2 (Elementary)
- B1 (Intermediate)
- B2 (Upper-Intermediate)
- C1 (Advanced)
- C2 (Proficient)
English Level A1 (Beginner)
A person with English level A1 is called a 'beginner'. A1 is the first level of English in the CEFR. At this level one can:
- understand and use common everyday language and very basic vocabulary;
- introduce himself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal information like what's his name, how old he is and where he's from;
- communicate with other people in a simple and basic way;
- read very short, simple texts with basic vocabulary.
A student who is just beginning to learn English, or who has no prior knowledge of English, is at a pre-A1 level.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding A1 scores:
|A1 level score|
|Cambridge English Scale||80 - 99|
English Level A2 (Elementary)
English level A2 is the second level of English in the CEFR. A person with English level A2 is called an 'elementary' learner. At this level, a person has learned the basics of English and can communicate with others about simple and everyday subjects. A person with A2 level of proficiency cannot understand academic texts or English-language TV series, movies, etc. At this level one can:
- communicate about basic personal information;
- interact in basic and routine conversations;
- understand basic topics of everyday communication.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding A2 scores:
|A2 level score|
|Cambridge English Scale||120 - 139|
English Level B1 (Intermediate)
The third level of English in the CEFR is B1. A learner at this level is called 'intermediate'. At this level, people have mastered the basic everyday topics, but they cannot fully function in an English-based work or study environment. At this level one can:
- comprehend the main points of a text about common subjects;
- interact with other English speakers about common subjects, especially while traveling;
- write simple texts on common subjects and their interests;
- communicate about their past experiences, their opinions, their hope for the future, etc.
A learner with B1 level of proficiency can communicate in a limited way about common subjects and somehow manage to understand more specific information.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding B1 scores:
|B1 level score|
|IELTS||4.0 - 5.0|
|TOEFL iBT||42 - 71|
|Cambridge English Scale||140 - 159|
English Level B2 (Upper-Intermediate)
The fourth level of English in the CEFR is B2. A person at this level is called 'upper-intermediate'. At this level, learners can fully function in work or study environments. Although they are not quite fluent and proficient. At this level one can:
- comprehend the main points of longer and more difficult texts;
- communicate with native English speakers fluently;
- write complex texts about different subjects and express their opinions.
A person with B2 level of proficiency is able to work or study in an english-based environment. Although they still may not be able to express themselves about more technical subjects other than their own.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding B2 scores:
|B2 level score|
|IELTS||5.5 - 6.0|
|TOEFL iBT||72 - 94|
|Cambridge English Scale||160 - 179|
English Level C1 (Advanced)
English level C1 is the fifth level of English in CEFR. Learners at this level are called 'advanced'. At this level, they can fully function in any kind of situation and can talk about a wide range of subjects either related or not related to their field of study. At this level one can:
- comprehend variety of topics inside or outside their own field of subject;
- convey their opinions without much effort and with fluency;
- communicate without difficulty in any situation;
- write very acceptable texts about most subjects inside or outside their own field of subject.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding C1 scores:
|C1 level score|
|IELTS||6.5 - 7.5|
|TOEFL iBT||95 - 120|
|Cambridge English Scale||180 - 199|
English Level C2 (Proficient)
The final level of English in CEFR is C2. A person at this level is called 'proficient'. A learner reaching this level can officially be called a 'bilingual' and is equal to an educated English speaker.
At this level one can:
- comprehend everything written or spoken;
- express and understand information about any kind of topic, technical or not;
- communicate fluently and effortlessly about different arguments and opinions.
A person with C2 level of proficiency is able to use language more professionally than that of an average native speaker.
Below is a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding C2 scores:
|C2 level score|
|IELTS||8.0 - 9.0|
|Cambridge English Scale||200 - 230|