Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Language Centre

Comparison of language exams: English

To demonstrate the attained level of competence in English, there are various examinations, each with their own certificate. Although the institutions providing these examinations all do so on a commercial basis, the certificates are widely recognised by institutions (universities and universities of professional education, organisations and employers) in English-speaking countries. The TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is from the USA, the Cambridge Certificates at various levels (e.g. the Certificate of Proficiency in English and the Certificate in Advanced English) are from the UK, whereas IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) have been developed internationally, albeit with a strong British influence.

To provide clarity to those who rely on these tests and need to know how they compare, the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) classified them into five levels of language proficiency. This comparison has been accepted by the institutions that offer the relevant tests.

ALTE Association of Language Testers in Europe
IELTS Test of English for International Communication (points scale 1-8)
Cambridge CPE, CAE, FCE, PET, KET (each level is subdivided into A-F, but a pass mark for the relevant level is only awarded if a score of A, B or C has been achieved)
TOEIC Test of English for International Communication. (points scale 10-990)
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (the new, internet-based test uses a points scale from 0-120)


GER1 ALTE level IELTS exam Cambridge exam TOEIC      TOEFL iBT     UNIcert®
C2 Level 5 8-9 CPE (A-C)
Certificate of
Proficiency in English
910+   IV
C1 Level 4 6,5-7,5 CAE (A-C)
Certificate in Advanced
701-­910 100 III
B2 Level 3 5-6 FCE (A-C)
First Certificate in
541-700 87 II
B1 Level 2 3,5-4,5 PET
Preliminary English
381-540 57 I
A2 Level 1 3 KET
Key English Test
246-380 (24)  
A1 Breakthrough
1-2      (8)  


1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages