What's my level in English?

Know your level; then you can choose the right lessons, movies and books




This page talks about CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) and British levels.
Click here for a comparison with IELTS, TOEFL, ACT and SATs.

CEFR level: Zero. Beginner. The student uses only a few expressions such as "Hello" or "My name is John".

CEFR level: A1. Elementary. The student knows enough English to enjoy a holiday in Britain or the USA. He or she understands many words and can ask for food or a hotel, but can't make a grammatical sentence. He or she can understand spoken English if it is very slow and very simple.

CEFR level: A2. Pre-intermediate. The student can have a simple conversation about familiar subjects such as friends, family and holidays. He or she can write a short composition which has many mistakes but is usually easy to understand. He or she knows a lot of vocabulary and grammar, but they are still separate elements. They are not yet combined into one single unit which the student can use.

CEFR level: B1. Intermediate. The student has a good vocabulary and can explain complicated things, but makes a lot of grammatical mistakes. He or she can understand ordinary English books but finds many words he or she does not know.
'Intermediate' is a very big category; there is a big difference between low Intermediate and high Intermediate. A high Intermediate student can start to make good progress without a teacher, if he or she is motivated. Reading for pleasure is an excellent way to to do this.

CEFR level: B2. Upper Intermediate. The student has connected most of the vocabulary and grammar (s)he has learned. He or she can speak and write clear, grammatical English, but prefers to use familiar expressions. Can read some books without using a dictionary. Can understand English-speaking people who have regional accents. May not be able to understand a radio programme, and probably still needs subtitles or a movie transcript to watch a film in English.

CEFR level: C1. Advanced. The student can speak and write both idiomatic and formal English, but not always in the correct context. Probably still "subvocalises" when reading English. Understands almost all the English (s)he reads or hears. Is starting to develop his or her own style of expression. Still needs subtitles or a transcript to watch some films.

CEFR level: C2. Mastery. He or she has probably spent several years living and working in an English-speaking country. Can speak English better than some English people, but has a smaller vocabulary than most of them.



Only an English teacher can test the 4 language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
However, there are some free tests:

Reading tests

(1) Read some graded English. Click here for seven examples. Which level are you happy with?

(2) Here are some good tests of reading level:

Listening tests

There are no free tests of listening skill, but there are listening resources on various websites, for students at different levels. Click here for the best of these.

You can also try watching movies on Netflix or DVD. If you are a confident student at Intermediate level, you should be able to read my transcript of Ring of Bright Water or A Knight's Tale and then watch the movie. Click here for this and other transcripts.

Writing level self-test

Try this writing test, and then compare your answer with real answers from 35 young people from many different countries. They were aged 14 to 18, and it was their first day at a new school, so some of them were too shy (or too cool) to write much. And some of them were "Upper Intermediate" or "Advanced" because they were very good at speaking, but maybe not very good at writing. This test is interesting because it's real.

Here's the test:

Write two paragraphs about yourself. You have 20 minutes. Include information about:

  • Where you’re from
  • Your family
  • Your home
  • Your interests
  • Things you like and dislike
  • Travelling to the UK


Test Answers 1: CEFR level A1 (Elementary)

(All corrections are by the student, not by the teacher.)

Student A1 (A): "“I’m from -------- --------.
My family Dad, Mom, 2 brother and sister.
I live ant apartment at in --------.
I lik the snapchat and instagram.
Burger and gym.

Student A1 (B): "My name is -------- --------, I’m 17 yers old, I’m from -------- --------. I have 3 brother and 2 sister. I lived in a small house including 5 bedroom and 2 living room, my interested is swimming, watch movise and playing voliball. I like the England weather and home food. I dislike england food and the bathroom in England because. I’m coming to the UK because stdy study english and have see good views. Just that."

Student A1 (C): "My name is -------- --------, come from --------. I don’t have any grand father or grand mother. I have a sister, a father and a mother. I love to do longboard, for to play tennis. I am interested by the biology and the English. I came in this town because would like to speak very well English English very well."

Student A1 (D): "Hello, my name is -------- and come from -------- near the [famous monument] and I have 15 years old. I have a twin, -------- --------, a old brother -------- and a old sister --------. I like the history about the world war, the mathematique and the rugby. I’m coming to UK for to work my English."


Test Answers 2: CEFR level A2 (Pre-Intermediate)

Student A2 (A): "My name is --------, I lived -------- in --------. My parents are divorced and I have one sister. I like the sport, animals and video game. I don’t like cheese and arts. I don’t come to the UK for this holidays. My grandfather, mother and father are doctors. I like diving with fish."


Student A2 (B): "My name is -------- --------. I come from -------- in the North, --------. I have 17 yers old. I have two sister and two brother and one coussin but he live in --------. My brother and my interest is the road bike or mountain bike, the music, I listen electronic music, french and american rap. Yesterday I arrived at 11pm in my familly, I make a very long trip. I stay in england for 2 Week. I know my host family because the last year I coming here, in the same familly.
I like sport, road bike, football, I like travel in a exotic and tropical islan, for example Guadeloupe, Martinique.


Student A2 (C): "My name is --------, I am 16 years old, I am from --------. I have on brother (21 years old) and one sister (24 years old). I live with them and my parents in our home. My parents are doctor and ingeener. My interests are tennis, soccer, movies...
I like pizza, pasta, bread, eggs... and I dislike fishes, vegetables...
I am coming to the UK for this holiday to learn English.


Student A2 (D): "Hi my name is --------, I’m 14 year old. I have mom and dad. My mom name is --------, my dad name is --------, I have pet. It is cat. He’s name Boris. My hobbie is cooking and my love sport it’s football. I was born in -------- but I am go to England to studi english. I’d like to go to Parish. and I like adventure. I don’t like reading books, but I like watch films. I love my life and my famoly!!!"


Student A2 (E): "My name is --------. I’m from --------, from -------- --------. I have a big family without father but I have stepfather, two brothers and of course Mum. I live in a flat but we often go to the countryside. I have different interests and hobbies. The most lovely hobby for me is collecting weapons. I like sports like rowing, football and mix fights. I think I came to UK not to have relax, Mum told me that it’s my job. But I think I will enjoy to stay in London :)"


Student A2 (F): "I’m from --------, I live in a small town --------. I have a big family, my little brother 5 years, he is like my. My sister study in high school. She a lot of reuds a lot of books. Sometimes I help with she’s homework. I lead actively lifestyle. I am good at snowboarding and buskedboll. I ride a longboard and sometimes work as a DJ. I now it is bad sorry."


Test Answers 3: CEFR level B1 (Intermediate)

Student B1 (A): "My name is --------. I was born on July 20th 2004. I live in -------- next to -------- in the south-east of the -------- with my twin sister, my mother and my parents. I practice horse ridding and tennis 2 times in a week.
I like work and I want progress in English. So, it’s for that I’m coming to England. I like England but there isn’t a good weather: It’s rainy all the time! There are a lot of nationalities in this school holidays and we can meet nice person. That’s very good!


Student B1 (B): "My name is --------. I’m 17 years old. I’m German. I study at -------- -------- School for 5 years. Nowadays I live in a small house with my mother and my sisters in --------. I only live with my mother and my two sisters because my father left home since I was very young. In my free time I like to read the books and sometimes I watching TV and listening to music. By the way I am a girls who doesn’t like dancing. Due to the fact that when I was very young my hand was hurt because of dancing. I’m really interested interesting in go shopping. When I have free time I always go shopping with my sisters. Moreover I’m very interesting in studying. So I’m so happy to study in this school. Furthermore when I on Saturday and Sunday I can visit some places in the UK also. In fact I come here for studying but I can go for a walk when I have free time. I hope that I will enjoy my holiday in the UK."


Student B1 (C): "Hello : I’m --------. I’m from Spain but I learned in China. I have a small family. We’re 3 members. In my home : My mother, my aunt and me. My mother’s Ana, she has blond hair. And my aunt call Simona is very electronic. She’s good at sports. I don’t have any brothers and sisters.
My home is big, it’s very comfortable. We have two bathrooms. And we have a duplex. My interests are write books, walk dogs and be with my mother and aunt. I like stay with my family, read books... (etc)
And all the years, I come to England to learn English in two weeks.


Student B1 (D): "My name is --------. I come from -------- near --------. I’ve got one sister, -------- she is 12 years old and my parents’ names are -------- and --------. I live in an apartement and I’ve got my own bedroom and I share my bathroom with my sister. I like swimming, dancing and cooking. I like see my friends too. I didn’t like the wars and be sick and I like hang out with my friends after school. I came to UK because I want to practice and learn more my English and I chose this week because it’s the last one before back to school."


Student B1 (E): "I come from -------, near the [famous monument]. I live with my mother and my brother --------. We are twins. I see my father only once a week, because my parents are divorced. At home, we have golden fishes and a cat ; his name is Charly. We also have two horses. I like doing sports : I am play tennis, and volley-ball. I also like gymnastic, and horse-riding. Reading and drawing are my hobbies. At school, I like technology but I don’t like maths. I’m coming to the UK for this holiday to improve my english."


Student B1 (F): "I come from --------, I live near the ------ [famous monument]. I live with my twin-sister -------- and my mother. My home is situate in the center of --------. At school, my favourite subjects are Maths, English and sports. I like horse riding, my mother has got two horses. I like playing tennis too.
I came to the UK this summer in order to improve my english. I think it’s very important to speak english today if I want to have a good job.
My mother is a lawer for -------- company and my father works on computers.
I do some competitions of tennis and horse riding.


Student B1 (G): "I come from --------, near -------- in a country called Andorra. I have two sisters, the first studies in -------- at Science [illegible] and the second studies art in ------ in France. My home is quite tall for us. I’m interested of military world, so I like polemology, tactics and strategies. I dislike languages but I’m here because I must improved my english to enter in the french army."


Student B1 (H): "My name is -------- and I’m from --------. I live in --------, near --------. I my family we are four. My mum is a teacher in a elementary school, my dad is an ingeneer and my brother study at the University in --------, to become a doctor. I have a dog named Fred. My home is in the countryside and I really like live there because there isn’t noise. I do gymnastics since I was 5. I like food, watch films, read the book and go out with my friends."


Student B1 (I): "I am from --------. I’m living in a town called --------. My parents are not living together. My dad is a doctor. I’m living in a flat near a lake. It’s very lovely here and you can see beautyfull landscapes. In my spare time I’m expected to do [illegible] sport-activitys. 1 time a week I go to kickboxing training. Although I go downhilling in the mountains with my best friend. I am not very compleated.
It’s the first time for me to come in the UK. I hope that it’ll be two weeks of fun and [illegible] to practise and get better in English.


Student B1 (J): "Hello! I’m -------- and I’m from --------, --------. I live with my dad -------- and my mum --------. They are lovely and they love sports and animals. I have got one sister called -------- and she is 18 years old. We love animals, so we have got 3 cats and 7 birds. We don’t live We live in a village near -------- that is called --------. It’s in the mountain so is very cold in winter, but in summer so hot and sunny.
I am very into volleyball. I started playing four years ago in -------- team and now I play in -------- team. I’m not into cooking, I’m so bad. I really like mediterranean food like salad or pasta. I don’t like british food, I hate french food. Is the third time I come to the UK for study, and I really like -------- school, I have been in -------- and --------. I really like to come for study because I learn a lot and I make a lot of friends from different countrys.


Test Answers 4: CEFR level B2 (Upper Intermediate)

Student B2 (A): "Hi everyone I’m from Switzerland and maybe at this moment you think that I’m living in the mountains and eat cheese all day but this is totally false. With my parents and my brother I live in the capitol of Switzerland, in Bern. I’m very interested in art, it’s my passion and this year I visited the Tate Modern in London and I loved it."


Student B2 (B): "Hello, my name is -------- and I’m 15. I come from -------- and I live in ---------. My parent’s are doctor and I’ve a sister whose name is --------. She’s twenty one years old and she’s a student of a school about biotechnologie. Finally I’ve got a cat. I live in a house with a swimming pool and a big garden. I play tennis two hours a week. My favourite lessons are Mathematiques and physics. I love swimming and cooking, I like walking and drawing, but also I hate Nutella, sleeping and I dislike reading.
Before, my favourite sport was horse riding. Last year I went to -------- in England with -------- and I was so happy to come again, but in an other city.


Student B2 (C): "Hello, my name is --------. I’m 18 years old. I’m from --------. I live in a small house but in a very big family. In my family, there are nine members. I have 2 sisters and 7 brothers. My parents are too old now, so I often help them to do some work. And now let my house is made by wood and it’s high from the ground. At my free time, I like reading books, listening to music and watching TV. Especially I like travelling, meeting new peoples and learning more new things. But sometimes I’m a bit shy to meet new people.
For me, I don’t like eating sweet. It’s strange for other people because there like eatim eating chocolate, but me no I don’t. I’m My very happy to have a chance to come to UK to study at --------. In here, I can mad make new friend and speak a lot of English, so I can improve my English.


Student B2 (D): "My name’s --------, I’m 14 years old and I live in a little village named --------, in the North of --------. I really like be grown in a little village, because you don’t get spoilt like in a big city as --------. My family is made by : My father who is 62 years old, my mother who is 57 years old, and she teachs teaches history, my sister who is 30 years old and she works as a sales assistant in --------, my brother who is 23, and he’s studying economy at university, and me.
In my house there are : 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a office my parent’s parents’ office. My house is all on the ground floor. My hobbys are : reading, listen to musico (who don’t?), going go out with my friends, watching TV, and cooking.
About food, my favourite is ice-cream, I would eat it every day!
About people in general I like who instantly understand you, without any words needed, and I don’t like people who speak their own language when they’re in England. Speak English! You’re here for this, aren’t you?!


Student B2 (E): "My name is -------- -------- I’m fourteen years old. I’m come from -------- and I’m living in --------. I’ve got four siblings and my two parents are working in the medicine. I’m living in town in a house with one of my sisters. I’m interests in Mathematics and geography. I do like play the piano and I’m found of ski, I like dancing to. I did come to the UK this summer to practise more and more my english for grammar and writing.". [Another student who was a lot better at listening and speaking than she was at writing.]


Student B2 (F): "First, I would like to introduce myself. I am a French girl. I come from France. I was born in -------- fourteen years ago. My mother’s name is -------- and my father’s name is --------. I don’t have any stepmother or stepfather but I have two little brothers : -------- and --------. -------- is thirteen years old and -------- is ten years old. Our first name is Dupont. We have a cat Oscar. This pretty animal is six years old. I am living in Belgium for ten years, my parents bought a house in ----------, so I speak a little Flemish. I’m also studying German, English and Latin at school. I also have a house in France, at --------.
I really like horse riding. It’s an amazing sport. I specially love high jumping and I would like to do Championships.


Student B2 (G): "My name is --------. I’m -------- and I live in --------, a town situated on the west -------- coast near the Atlantic Ocean. I live in a house with my parents, my twin sister and my little brother aged eleven. My home isn’t very big but it’s nice and I’ve got a little garden with tennis table and the rabbit of my little brother.
I’m interested in lot of things like sports, I play tennis and badmington. I’m interested in history, politic. I like to meet my friends, to go to party, to read books I like to discuss about medicine with my father because he is a doctor. I dislike the rain, the color orange and the gelee. I came to the UK for this holiday to improve my English level as in pronunciation and gramar as in vocabulary. It’s the second time I came to England to learn english, last time it was in -------- and I enjoy it very much. I hope it will be the same here.


Student B2 (H): "My name is -------- --------. I’m 16 years old. I’m a student from --------, --------. I came in the “Extended Programme” because I’m very motivated. I work hard all the year in France so my family advise me not to work during summer time : in holidays, I can rest and do whatever I want to do. But I’ve already decided to work in international business when I’ll be an adult. So the English is very important and I study Chinese too. These languages can bring me a lot of opportunities, I think. I’m interested in economy, I’m really passioned. That’s why I work so hard. Also, my first dream since I am a child, is to speak english perfectly : to be bilingual. Otherwise, I dance (modern jazz and classic style) since 12 years. it is a need for me to dance, because I must expressed myself and I’m an energic girl. I love the city in wich I live. Furthermore I love my quarter in -------- and, of course, I love my house. All of this space “reflect” my personality. For me, my city means summer, friends, sea, beach and fun. It’s all I’m fond of!
Indeed, I love my city, I love my parents and my family but my wish to learn english is more important.
I have one brother named ------ and aged 18. He didn’t had the chance to learn english with ‘linguistic travel’ like me. This year, he pass an exam (the exam of the life).


Test Answers 5: CEFR level C1 (Advanced)

Student C1 (A): "My name is -------- --------. I’m 16 years old and I live in -------- in the city of --------. I have two brothers, a twin brother and a little brother who is 11. My father is a doctor and my mother works for him. I live in a house decorated with photos and stuffs which refer to the sea because my mother is crazy of photography and she loves the beach. I love sport like tennis, volleyball and football and I also like reading or going out with friends. This year I choose to come to the UK to improve my English but also to have fun." [This student was "Advanced" because he could understand and speak English very well. His writing was not great, though.]


Student C1 (B): "I’m from Russia, --------. This is very nice and warm city because it is located in south of Russia. My family live in the centre of our city. We are 4 in our family but my father doesn’t live with us because he works in London, which makes me very proud of him, because it was always my target to live and work in England. This is why I came to UK for this holiday to learn english and improve my level. Actually, my dream is going to come true next year because I’m going to study in school and then in University in England. I chose this country for my education because I think I would have much more abilities here to realise myself like fashion designer. This is my biggest [illegible]. I’m very interested in fashion and beauty sphere. This is why I had my beauty blog on YouTube. It is engaging for me to tell people about beauty, style, and given them some useful advices. Also I take dance classes in my city because dancing helps me to relax and support my body at the same time. And of course I have English classes three times per week to prepare for English school. Thanks to my timetable I’m very busy and I like it! I think that life becomes more beautiful and interesting when person tries to do as much as he can."


Student C1 (C): "My name is Jean Dupont, Jean is my first name. I’m from Paris in the seventeenth district and I live in a flat in a calm road near the [famous monument]. I live with my father, my mother and my sister as my brother Pierre has left home to study at university.
I’m interested in quite a lot of things, from sports (football, tennis, running...) to physics, especially concerning space, computing (wargames ...) and films. I like sports, video games, drawing, physics, but I don’t like working for too long and reading boring books, playing the piano (I stopped).
I’m coming to the UK to strengthen my English, meet people, and then I’ll spend a week at my cousin’s, having fun. Then I’ll spend three weeks in Corsica to relax, swim, walk in the mountains, and three weeks in the USA with the aim of discovering the west of the country.


Student C1 (D): "Hello everybody, My name’s -------- and I’m from --------, a big city in the northern part of Italy. I live with my mom and dad, I’m an only child but I never get bored! I live with my family in a large flat in the historical centre of the city. I love playing football and basketball with my friends and I also like fishing. At the weekend I do voluntary work and help people affected by Down’s Syndrome. I’ve been looking forward to this holiday in the UK as I really like this country.
I hope to make lots of new friends and learn new things!


Student C1 (E): "My name is Carolina and I’m 16 years old. My family and I have been moving a lot. I was born in the USA and after living there for only one month, my family and I moved back to Europe and places such as Turin, Zurich and Geneva. I have been living in Milan for almost three years now. I have to two little brothers aged 14 and 9. My parents’ names are Andrea and Ciara, my mother works as a freelance clinical project manager and my father works in finance. I have a lot of interests and passions, the most important one is travelling and learning new languages: I love meeting new people and getting to know other cultures. I also attend ballet lessons two times a week and I really enjoy reading.
I have decided to come to the UK this holiday to improve my English, I have been to London last year and it has been a great experience. One of my biggest dreams is to live at least part of my life in the USA, for that reason improving my English is very important for me.


Student C1 (F): "Good morning, my name is Victoria, I’m 14 and I live in Switzerland. Actually I was born in Italy but I don’t speak Italian. Unfortunately I don’t have any siblings even though I wish I had a sister. My father works as a surgeon and my mother runs an art gallery and teaches contemporary art at a university in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Just as my mother I’m greatly interested in art history and languages. Since a few years I’ve developed a huge interest in the English language and culture. I read all my books in English and I watch a lot of English series like Downton Abbey and Sherlock. I also play the violin and sing in a choir. As a sportive activity I do kickboxing twice a week and I truly love it because it trains my whole body and I am able to get rid of all my angry feelings (only joking!).
I like kind and open-minded people who share the same interests as me. In the last few months I’ve developed an interest in equal rights and feminism because Emma Watson - my favourite actress - founded a campaign called HeForShe. Because of that I really dislike sexist or homophobic people.
I was here already last year and since I really enjoyed my stay in London I decided to come back for one more time. In one year I’m going to England for a year and I will be visiting a public school near Chester where I will be doing my AS-levels.


Test Answers 6: CEFR level C2 (Mastery)

None of these students aged 14-18 reached "Mastery" level.



Other levels: IELTS, TOEFL, ACT, SATs

I prepare students for the IELTS examination; see Academic English. If you want to study at a university in the UK (Britain) or the USA, you probably need an IELTS score of 6 or 6.5. This is the equivalent of a CEFR score of B2. In the UK, we usually call this "Upper Intermediate" level.

UK language levels: CEFR language levels: IELTS scores:
Starter / Beginner Pre-A1 Level 0
Elementary A1: Breakthrough Level 0, 1 or 2
Pre-Intermediate A2: Waystage Level 3, 3.5
Intermediate B1: Threshold Level 4, 4.5, possibly 5
Upper Intermediate B2: Vantage Level 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5
Advanced C1: Effective Operational Proficiency Level 7, 7.5, 8
Mastery C2: Mastery Level 9

IELTS textbooksThe IELTS website gives some advice about the level of English you will need if you want to study in an English-speaking country.

  • Animal care, child care, cooking: IELTS examination score of 5.5 or more
  • Engineering, science: IELTS score of 6 or more.
  • Agriculture, mathematics, computing, telecommunications: IELTS score of 6.5 or more
  • Medicine, law, languages: IELTS score of 7 or more.

However, each university can decide for itself, and some ask for an IELTS score of 8 or 9 for some courses. A university is not just a school, it's also a business, and European Union universities get a lot more money for students from outside the EU. In August 2012, Times Higher Education did a survey of 88 UK universities. 58 of them would accept an IELTS score of 6.0 for most courses if the student was from outside the EU.

Of course, IELTS is not the only examination system. There are TOEFL, ACT and SATs too. These are approximate equivalents to an IELTS score of 6.5:

  • TOEFL (paper) - 550
  • ACT (English section) - 19
  • SAT (critical reading) - 480