Cambridge English Advanced(CAE) exam in Nepal:An alternative to IELTS

With a CEA test under their belt, students can apply for a visa, just like they would with the IELTS, which was the only test they could take in the past. Today, the CAE is recognised for all categories of UK visas applicants.

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Manish Gautam
Losing an entire academic session just because the date for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), a mandatory test for students who want to go abroad for further studies, is months away might not be a good idea. On the one hand, even after taking the exam students won't be guaranteed a  visa; on the other, students will have to take the exam all over again as its validity expires in two years. Needless to say this obligation of taking the IELTS examinations and the unavailability of more dates has forced many students in Nepal to delay their studies.

A new test in town
An equivalent test, the Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) exam, has come as a respite for students aspiring to go to universities in Australia and the UK. With a CEA test under their belt, students can apply for a visa, just like they would with the IELTS, which was the only test they could take in the past. Today, the CAE is recognised for all categories of UK visas applicants. Furthermore, the test is accepted in Canada, New Zealand and the US for students who wish to pursue higher studies; for those who wish to apply for a migrant visa, the CAE is accepted only in Australia and the UK.  

"We have come across many students who have delayed their studies just because the IELTS date is months away. Right now, for instance, the date is available only in July," says Uttam Prasad Pant, Centre Exams Manager of the University of Cambridge English Language Assessment Centre.

Launched in 1991, the CAE has today become a widely trusted, high-quality test of English for academic and professional purposes. This is demonstrated by the global acceptance of the test by more than 3,000 organisations, including education institutions, governments and employers.

The test was updated in 1999 and 2008 to reflect changes in language teaching and testing. It is available in both paper-based and computer-based versions in over 1,300 centres in 113 countries. The test was launched in Nepal on August 19, 2011 and has since been attracting many students. The exam, just like IELTS, is conducted by Cambridge ESOL, Cambridge University, which means that its quality is backed by a reputed body. "The popularity of the test in India was amazing, and that made us realise that it would be popular in Nepal too," says Panta.

And just like the IELTS, the CAE is an in-depth test of English. There are other similarities too: the test comprises five papers-- Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. Each paper carries 20 percent of the total marks.

But the CAE does offer distinct advantages to the IELTS. First, the CAE is cheaper. The IELTS course costs Rs 12,300, while the CAE costs just Rs 11,000. Besides the lower cost, an important feature of the CAE is that its validity never expires, unlike the IELTS, whose validity only lasts for two years. This, Panta believes, might end the monopoly enjoyed by IELTS test with the CAE now being a viable option. The CAE is available as both a paper-based and computer-based test, offering students a choice about how they want to take the exam. Furthermore, the exam is available 37 times a year, with test dates at least once a month. And the results are issued quickly--in two weeks for the computer-based exam and four weeks for the paper-based exam.

The CAE is, however, a longer test than the IELTS. The CAE is made up of a 40-minute listening test; a 75 -minute reading test; a 90-minute writing test; a 60-minute test called 'Use of English', and a 15-minute speaking test. The test thus takes 4 hours 40 minutes to complete, while the IELTS takes 2 hours 45 minutes. Panta says the longer time means that the CAE is more comprehensive.

The score for the tests use different ranges too:
> A score of 80 in the CAE would be the equivalent of an 8 in the IELTS;
> a 74 in the CAE would be a 7.5 in the IELTS;
> a 67 in the CAE would mean would mean 7, and so on.

source: Gautam,Manish (2014),"CAE in Nepal", The Kathmandu post,21 Jan 2014

2014-01-21 | EducateNepal


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