The B1 Preliminary examination is for candidates who can use every day written and spoken English at an intermediate level.

B1 Preliminary is the right exam for you if the following criteria apply to you:

  • Your first language is not English.
  • You can use English to deal with daily events.
  • You can use English to read simple textbooks or magazine articles.
  • You can use English to write letters on familiar subjects.
  • You can use English to take notes in a meeting.

Exam Components

B1 Preliminary has three papers – Reading and Writing, Listening, and Speaking. The Reading and Writing paper contributes 50% of the total marks, and the other two papers each contribute 25%.

Reading and Writing (Paper 1)

1 hour 30 minutes

Candidates are expected to read factual texts taken from signs, journals, newspapers and magazines, and understand the main points. They will be assessed on their skimming and scanning skills as well as their ability to recognise the conveyed opinion or attitude and simple text markers.

In addition, candidates are required to write a short message and an informal letter of about 100 words and also to demonstrate their knowledge of grammatical structures by transforming sentences.

Listening (Paper 2)

approximately 35 minutes

Candidates must be able to listen for key information in short texts, identify detailed meaning and interpret information in factual monologues, and also understand the attitudes and opinions of the speakers in an informal conversation.

Speaking (Paper 3)

up to 10 minutes

Candidates are tested in pairs by two locally-based examiners on their linguistic ability to give personal information, make and respond to suggestions, discuss alternatives, negotiate agreement, express opinions and preferences, and manage a discourse using appropriate vocabulary.

Exam Schedule and Fees

Cambridge English Qualifications

Click here for the latest exam schedule.

The Speaking paper is held within specified periods, and special arrangements are made at the discretion of CEFL Headquarters, taking into account the needs and conditions of CEFL Member Institutions.


Click here for more information.


With the exception of Paper 3, all exam scripts are returned to Cambridge Assessment International Education for marking and grading.

Five or six weeks after the exam, all candidates receive a Statement of Results, showing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ performance in each of the papers by means of a graphical profile.

There are two Pass grades: Pass and Pass with Merit. Successful candidates are awarded the B1 Preliminary certificate approximately 10 weeks after the exam. This certification is valid for life. Candidates judged not to have reached the required standard for B1 Preliminary receive the Narrow Fail or Fail grades. The overall grade is based on the candidate’s total score in all the papers.

If you have any questions about your results, contact the CEFL centre where you registered for the exam.

Click here to contact the Cambridge Assessment English Centre Exams Manager for the actual exam dates, especially for Paper 3, and the latest fees if you are a walk-in/external candidate or feeder school representative.

Click here for further information on the CEFL B1 Preliminary course.