Language Proficiency Tests: What do you mean by CEFR certified levels?

IELTS

4 mins read22.2K Views
Rahul
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 6, 2020 16:41 IST

Studying abroad often requires a series of examinations which are often broadly classified into language proficiency (like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, DSH, DELF, etc.) and aptitude tests (GRE, GMAT, SAT, etc.). While the aptitude tests may or may not be required depending on the country you are applying to, more often than not one or more language proficiency tests are often required by universities abroad. Also, when applying to the European Countries, they are more or less mandatory. They, however, differ in degree of proficiency required for different courses and that is where CEFR comes into picture. In fact, you would have come across the term pretty often. So what is CEFR and what are the various levels required for studying abroad?

What is CEFR?

CEFR or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching and Assessment is a reference standard, developed and set by the Council of Europe as the part of project called the “Language Learning for European Citizenship.” Developed to create a standard that can be used as a normal scale to measure the proficiency in various languages spoken in European continent, this is now widely used by universities abroad to set language proficiency markers. The system was designed as a validation of language ability for non-native speakers of the language.

A student can understand CEFR as a guideline that measures a non-native speaker’s ability to communicate in the foreign language. This could be valid for any foreign language, namely German, French, English or Spanish.

Levels of CEFR

Broadly speaking the scale is divided into three levels of proficiency – Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Here’s what they refer to:

Level Group

Level

Description

A - Basic User

A1 - Beginner

The level refers to a very basic understanding of the language wherein the person is able to understand the commonly used phrases, can introduce him/herself and describe where they live, etc. The person with A1 level is often not able to speak well nor able to understand the language well until and unless spoken to very slowly and deliberately and with assistance.

A2 - Elementary

A little improvement over A1, the A2 level refers to the ability to communicate about the everyday requirements in the language. The person is able to understand day to day expressions and describe immediate environment and answer routine and direct questions.

B - Independent User

B1 - Intermediate

This level is more than the previous in terms of the ability of the person to communicate with relevant ease in the language. Can relatively travel with ease, communicate his/her requirements in a manner understandable and can communicate in relatively well formed sentences in areas of interest...but not all areas.  The person is also able to communicate his/her opinion in a better manner.

B2 - Upper Intermediate

In terms of improvement over the B2 level, the basic understanding of the language remains the same but there is a relatively marked improvement in spontaneity and fluency of responses. The candidate can produce and use clear detailed sentences and communicate with the native speaker with ease. Also, the level also signifies an improvement in the manner of expressing his/her opinions.

C - Proficient User

C1 - Advanced

The C Level refers to the advanced levels of proficiency of the language and relates to a level which signifies the person can speak, write and converse in the foreign language with ease. The fluency is also highly improved and the vocabulary is also distinctively well developed. This level refers to the ability of a person to use the language in academic or professional settings with efficiency and ease.

C2 - Proficient

This is the highest level of proficiency, referring to the candidates’ ability to communicate in the foreign language without any restrictions/ concerns. The fluency and vocabulary is further embellished with the person's ability to argue and present his/ her point of view and also discern the finer nuances of the language. In other words, this is as close as a person gets to speaking the language as a native.

CEFR Certified Levels and their corresponding Score for various Language Exams

As already mentioned above, the language requirements might vary from university to university and country to country. In fact, some universities in the same country might ask for a different level of proficiency. Also, often the degree of proficiency required might vary from course to course. For instance, a university in Germany require you to clear B2 level while another might ask for C1. Also, the same university might require a C1 level for its undergraduate courses and perhaps only a B2 level for a masters’ program. This is due to the varying levels of understanding required. (Also read exams for Germany). Often the universities require you to have a certain score. Here’s a list of the various levels the different language proficiency exams refer to.

Language

Certificate

A1

A2

B1

B2

C1

C2

English

IELTS

2.0

3.0

3.5-4.5

5.0-6.0

6.5-7.5

8.0-9.0

English

TOEFL (iBT)

 

10-15 (speaking)
7 - 12 (writing)

42-71 (total)

72-94 (total)

95-120 (total)

 

English

PTE Academic

 

30

43

59

76

85

French

CIEP / Alliance Française Diplomas

TCF A1 / DELFA1

TCF A2 / DELFA2

TCF B1 / DELF B1

TCF B2 / DELF B2

TCF C1 / DALF C1

TCF C2 / DALF C2

German

TestDaF

     

TDN 3 — TDN 4

TDN 4 — TDN 5

 

In simpler words, say for instance a University suggests that they need a minimum of B2 level of CEFR proficiency, then for English Language you would need a minimum 59 in PTE Academic, 72 in TOEFL iBT or at least a 5.0 in IELTS. Same applies for French and German.

About the Author
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

With over 8 years of experience in overseas education, Rahul Singha has been previously associated with prominent education houses. He is also responsible for keeping a sharp eye on education policies of major study... Read Full Bio

Comments

(4)

Would CEFR B2 create problem in Canada study permit ? It is equivalent to 6.5 IELTS

Reply to Pramit Kaundilya

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nikhil pullela

10 months ago

Hi Rahul,
Are there any College in the US that accept the CEFR score? I have a C2 proficient score and was wondering if it is necessary to take another standardised exam like IELTS or TOEFL. My IELTS score expires this year and I'm planning to go next year.

Reply to nikhil pullela

R

Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

10 months ago

Hello Nikhil. Most universities in the US are looking for IELTS and TOEFL scores. However, the admission criteria are very university-specific and you can take a look at the popular universities in the US and know about their individual eligibility requirements here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.c...Hello Nikhil. Most universities in the US are looking for IELTS and TOEFL scores. However, the admission criteria are very university-specific and you can take a look at the popular universities in the US and know about their individual eligibility requirements here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/usa

M

Manjeet Singh

a year ago

I got CEFR level B2 then shall I eligible for UG Diploma study in canada ?

Reply to Manjeet Singh

R

Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

a year ago

Hello Manjeet. Thank you for writing in. You can know more about Algoma University here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities/algoma-university You can check out more universities in Ontario along with admission details here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities-in-o...Hello Manjeet. Thank you for writing in. You can know more about Algoma University here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities/algoma-university You can check out more universities in Ontario along with admission details here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities-in-ontario You can also get in touch with our study abroad counselors and request for a call back here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/apply

M

Manjeet Singh

a year ago

Hello Rahul Sir thanx for your revert me back.I am looking for Project Management Diploma for 2 years and I have a one University name which is ALGOMA University however I am not stick static on this university rather I would like to study in this type of University or college which is situated i...Hello Rahul Sir thanx for your revert me back.
I am looking for Project Management Diploma for 2 years and I have a one University name which is ALGOMA University however I am not stick static on this university rather I would like to study in this type of University or college which is situated in Ontario.
Thank you

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Aashish Mohanty

2 years ago

Does that mean certain colleges do not require the IELTS or TOEFL english proficiency tests and the CEFR can be used interchangeably? Also, where exactly can someone enroll for the CEFR certification exam? Would you consider the CEFR certification from British Council, India as a valid substitute?

Reply to Aashish Mohanty

R

Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

2 years ago

Hello Aashish. this is entirely subjective to the college/university you are planning to take admission into. every college would have their individual eligibility criteria which the student would be required to meet to take admission into the same.

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