BEC is a suite of three exams designed to test English language ability used in the context of business.

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

  • Your first language is not English.
  • Your English language ability is sufficient for most simple communications, such as shopping.
  • You have an understanding of or an interest in the world of work, business and commerce.

Exam Components

BEC can be taken at three different levels, and candidates are assessed in four key areas at each level – listening, speaking, reading and writing. The tasks and questions are based on real-life business situations.

B1 Business Preliminary

Reading and Writing: 1 hour 30 minutes

Listening: 40 minutes

Speaking: 12 minutes

This level tests candidates on their ability to use English to carry out basic office skills such reading short messages, interpreting charts, writing a short e-mail, following short telephone conversations and discussing, and talking about business-related matters.

B2 Business Vantage

Reading: 1 hour

Writing: 45 minutes

Listening: 40 minutes

Speaking: 14 minutes

This level tests similar skills to BEC Preliminary but to a higher standard. Candidates are required to show they can write a short piece of business correspondence, a report or proposal, read extracts from business publications as well as listen to, understand and contribute to discussions on business topics.

C1 Business Higher

Reading: 1 hour

Writing: 1 hour 10 minutes

Listening: 40 minutes

Speaking: 16 minutes

This level tests similar skills at an advanced level. Candidates are required to show they can write a longer piece of business correspondence, report or proposal, read longer business articles, summarise graphs as well as take part in discussions and express opinions on a topic.

Exam Schedule and Fees

Cambridge English Qualifications

Click here for the latest exam schedule 2018.

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 the Speaking paper, 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 detailed Statement of Results, showing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ performance in each of the papers against the scale of Exceptional – Good – Borderline – Weak. The report can be extremely useful for further study.

A single, overall grade is awarded, based on the aggregate of marks gained in the four components. There are no Pass/Fail marks for individual papers. Candidates do not need to reach a particular level in any component in order to achieve a Pass in the examination.

Successful candidates are awarded the Cambridge English: Business Certificates approximately 10 weeks after the exam. This certification is valid for life.

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

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

Click here for further information on the CEFL BEC course.