Cambridge Business English Certificate (BEC-Higher)
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BEC Higher assesses language ability used in the context of business at the Council of Europe’s Effective Operational Proficiency Level (C1) for general language proficiency, which is Level 2 in the UK National Qualifications Framework.
Test of Reading (1 hour)
In the Reading component there are six tasks of the following types: multiple choice, matching, word level gap-filling, sentence level gap-filling, multiple choice gap-filling and error identification. The Reading component contributes 25% of the total marks.
Test of Writing (1 hour 10 minutes)
In the Writing component there are two tasks. In Part One candidates produce a short report (based on graphic input, approx. 120–140 words). In Part Two candidates choose whether to write a report, proposal or piece of business correspondence. The Writing component contributes 25% of the total marks.
Test of Listening (approximately 40 minutes including time for completion of answer sheets)
In the Listening component there are three tasks of the following types: gapfilling or note completion, matching and multiple choice. Texts used are monologues and dialogues, including interviews, discussions, telephone conversations and messages. The Listening component contributes 25% of the total marks.
Test of Speaking (approximately 16 minutes per pair of candidates)
The Speaking Test is conducted by two external examiners and candidates are tested in pairs. At centres with an uneven number of candidates, the last single candidate is examined with the last pair in a group of three. (N.B. The group of three format may only be used to deal with uneven numbers, unexpected absence of candidates, illness, etc. It is not an option that may be selected in normal circumstances where there is an even number of candidates at a session.)
There are four tasks in which each candidate responds to questions, gives a ‘mini-presentation’ lasting approximately one minute, takes part in a collaborative task with the other candidate and takes part in a discussion with the other candidate and the interlocutor. The Speaking component contributes 25% of the total marks.
A single, overall grade is awarded, based on the aggregate of marks gained in the four components indicated above. There are no pass/fail marks for individual components, hence there is no requirement to reach a particular level in any component in order to achieve a pass in the examination.
Three classes of passing grade are available, A, B and C, and two classes of failing grade, D and E.
All candidates are provided with a Statement of Results which includes a graphical display of the candidate’s performance in each paper. These are shown against the scale Exceptional – Good – Borderline – Weak and indicate the candidate’s relative performance in each paper. Passing candidates are awarded a certificate.
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