¿Cuál es la diferencia entre los niveles de inglés?

​I’m often asked what the difference is between the different levels in English, for example B1 & B2. So here’s my opinion.


A2 is very, very basic.  You are expected to be able to understand very simple instructions and information when reading or listening. 

Writing is also easy with a limited expectation of vocabulary and the most basic of grammar, for example present and past simple, continuous, and future simple. 

Speaking is judged on your ability to answer questions from an information sheet, have the most basic of interaction, as well as being able to pronounce the alphabet. 

Students who take B1 and are given A2 really must have performed badly in the exam to score so very low.


In my opinion B1 is quite a low level and adds maybe 30% to what you learn in A2.

Unlike A2 in B1 you are expected to be able to understand basic spoken and written information and also context. This means a larger vocabulary and better skills with listening and reading. Vocabulary is mainly basic word forms, a handful of phrasal verbs and mainly Celtic based words, for example put, take, give etc. These are extremely important for the 5 parts of Reading (synonyms, modals etc.) and the 3 parts of writing, particularly the sentence transformations in part 1.  

The grammar is also a little more complex with reported speech, zero, first and second conditionals, passives, comparatives etc, and again these are mainly tested in the 3 parts of writing.  

Writing is still quite simple with informal emails and short stories, but speaking is very different. You need to be able to describe, exchange opinions, hypothesise and interact conversationally. We have an in-depth post about the speaking part. 


Upper intermediate 
Overall B2 is not very different to B1 but the level of required understanding is much higher. It adds about 25% more to what you learn in B1. 

Grammar is very similar but you are expected to know the subtle differences in meaning between verb forms, verb and noun patterns, dependent prepositions, collocations etc. You need greater vocabulary and knowledge of phrasal verbs, set expressions, idioms etc. In B2 you have more abstract word forms and particularly Latin based words (though these are the same in Spanish, in 90% of cases). 

Listening is quite different, questions are more subtle and people speak much quicker and with different accents. Again, we have a post dedicated to Listening (B1, B2, C1).

The biggest difference is writing – you are expected to be able to write informally, semi formally and formally for letters, articles, reviews, reports etc. This requires extensive use of complex grammatical structures, for example perfect tenses, participle clauses etc.

Use of English is a separate unit in the exam and is very difficult as it requires a good knowledge of word forms, dependent prepositions, collocations, etc.

There are some badly educated English people who would struggle to produce a good example of writing, Use of English or speaking at this level.


Advanced is the hardest level in my opinion. It adds 70% more to what you are taught in all lower levels. You cannot study and pass this level quickly.

Complex grammar and thousands of new words/idioms etc make this level very dense.

Listening is very very difficult with natural speech, very subtle tricks and at fast speeds.

Speaking is similar to B2 but themes are more abstract and you are expected to be able to hypothesise about abstract concepts and themes.. 

Writing and use of English are similar to B2 but at a much higher level. Complex grammatical structures are expected, especially in semi/formal writing such as reports, articles etc. These include inversions, 3rd conditional structures and many fixed phrases and idioms, 

Reading is very difficult with a required level of vocabulary that cannot be compared to other lower levels. Reading can be narrative, academic, scientific, or business orientated.


C2 really only adds a layer of vocabulary onto C1. It is very language heavy with very little grammar because 99% if it is covered in C1. 

It is the icing on the cake for those who have C1 but as a native speaker I personally don’t think it deserves its reputation for fluency – it means you are proficient or very very good in a language but not to the same extent as a born native. Language is not only a collection of structures and words, it is cultural and in the blood. Having said that, C2 remains the ultimate level a student can reach in any language test.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre los exámenes de Cambridge por ordenador o papel?

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I’m often asked what the difference is between the Computer based Cambridge English exam and the exam on Paper. Here’s my thoughts.


Most students have completed exams on paper and feel very comfortable doing it this way. Just as at University your answers must be copied onto a separate answer sheet. You are able to carry out the strategy for each part, underlining keywords, writing synonyms etc.

Fewer exam dates have an impact on the number of students taking the exam which is usually quite high with as many as 100 students sitting the exam. This affects the Listening, with people sneezing, coughing, as well as problems with echoes due to the large room needed for so many candidates. The need to copy your answers onto an answer sheet can also cause problems if you do not pay very close attention to the time – not copying all of them, or completing the wrong sections can result in a failed exam purely for technical reasons rather than level.


There are many more exam dates and so fewer candidates in the exam. The experience itself is usually less intimidating with as few as 6 students sitting the exam. Listening is done with headphones and you are able to control the volume so it is optimum for you.

Perhaps the greatest problem is your own ability using the software for the exam as well as typing in English. There are Computer based practice tests online and we also provide computer based tests for you to try. You can also watch a tutorial that helps you understand how to use the software but for some students this makes little difference – it’s hard enough remembering English structures and words without worrying about how to use the computer!

There is also the problem of how to do the strategy for each part. Although the software allows you to do this it isn’t very intuitive and slows you down. I would only recommend the Computer based exam if –

You are very comfortable using a PC
– You don’t rely on doing the strategy for each part
– You have a natural ability with listening as it is impossible to do the strategy for this part.

A good teacher will know your key strengths and weaknesses and will guide you as to which exam to take. They should also allow you to practice both the paper based and computer based exam to be sure there are no problems. At Queens students receive 20 hours of Paper based Exam Practice classes as well as for PC. If you do not receive the same I suggest you look for a better school. 

Practice computer based exams

The following links might help you decide which exam and what type is best for you. These links will redirect you to a different site.

Computer based Practice Test – all levels
Computer Based Tutorial – all levels
B1 Computer based tutorial
B1 Computer based practice test
FCE Computer based tutorial
FCE Computer based practice test

A menudo me preguntan cuál es la diferencia entre el examen Cambridge English basado en computadora y el examen en papel. Aquí están mis pensamientos.

La mayoría de los estudiantes han completado los exámenes en papel y se sienten muy cómodos haciéndolo de esta manera. Al igual que en la Universidad, sus respuestas deben copiarse en una hoja de respuestas separada. Puede llevar a cabo la estrategia para cada parte, subrayando palabras clave, escribiendo sinónimos, etc.

Menos fechas de examen tienen un impacto en el número de estudiantes que toman el examen, que generalmente es bastante alto con hasta 100 estudiantes que se presentan al examen. Esto afecta la audición, con personas estornudando, tosiendo, así como problemas con los ecos debido a la gran sala necesaria para tantos candidatos. La necesidad de copiar sus respuestas en una hoja de respuestas también puede causar problemas si no presta mucha atención al tiempo: no copiar todas ellas o completar las secciones incorrectas puede dar lugar a un examen reprobado simplemente por razones técnicas en lugar de nivel .

Hay muchas más fechas de examen y, por lo tanto, menos candidatos en el examen. La experiencia en sí misma suele ser menos intimidante con tan solo 6 estudiantes en el examen. La escucha se realiza con auriculares y puede controlar el volumen para que sea óptimo para usted.

Quizás el mayor problema es su propia habilidad para usar el software para el examen y escribir en inglés. Hay pruebas de práctica basadas en computadora en línea y también ofrecemos pruebas basadas en computadora para que las pruebe. También puede ver un tutorial que lo ayuda a comprender cómo usar el software, pero para algunos estudiantes esto hace poca diferencia: ¡es bastante difícil recordar las estructuras y palabras en inglés sin preocuparse por cómo usar la computadora!

También está el problema de cómo hacer la estrategia para cada parte. Aunque el software le permite hacer esto, no es muy intuitivo y lo ralentiza. Solo recomendaría el examen por computadora si

-Te sientes muy cómodo usando una PC
– No confías en hacer la estrategia para cada parte
– Tienes una habilidad natural para escuchar, ya que es imposible hacer la estrategia para esta parte.

Recomendación: Un buen maestro conocerá sus fortalezas y debilidades clave y lo guiará en cuanto a qué examen tomar. También deberían permitirle practicar tanto el examen en papel como en computadora para asegurarse de que no haya problemas. En Queens, los estudiantes reciben 20 horas de clases de práctica de examen en papel, así como para PC. Si no recibe lo mismo, le sugiero que busque una mejor escuela.

Practique exámenes basados ​​en computadora Los siguientes enlaces pueden ayudarlo a decidir qué examen y qué tipo es mejor para usted. Estos enlaces lo redirigirán a un sitio diferente.

Computer based Practice Test – all levels
Computer Based Tutorial – all levels
B1 Computer based tutorial
B1 Computer based practice test
FCE Computer based tutorial
FCE Computer based practice test