Choose your language:

ESL Examinations: Review

Before taking an exam, you must decide which certificate suits your needs. Only certificates of proficiency are internationally recognized as proof of your ability to work in an English speaking environment.

Universities sometimes require for admission certain scores in the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The test results can usually be used for a period of one or two years, while proficiency certificates (C2) are valid for a lifetime (but the exam is more difficult).

Michigan ECPE v. Cambridge CPE

Both the Michigan (AmE) and the Cambridge (BrE) Certificate of Proficiency are equally recognized by international institutions and business organizations and verify mastery (C2). These certificates are valid for a lifetime. You can also use them for university entry since many universities worldwide recognize the certificates as proof of your native-like fluency. Some universities still require a TOEFL (IELTS) test and offer preparation courses (thus a mere money-spinner). The University of Michigan can boast the briefer examination. 


A top score in the TOLES Advanced (Test of Legal English Skills by Global English) may certify proficiency since mastery level has not been excluded. Candidates cannot fail the exam, but are graded according to their performance. The certificate is recognized by the Law Society of England and Wales.

The Cambridge ILEC (International Legal English Certificate) cannot attest mastery since it is graded advanced (C1). It is nevertheless recognized by the Council of Europe.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: C2 (mastery) - C1 (effective operational proficiency) - B2 (vantage)
Michigan Cambridge TOLES ILEC
Level C2 C2 B2-C2 B2/C1
Audio played once, questions: 50 played twice, questions: 30 - played twice, questions: 30
Reading 120 questions 53 questions 58 questions 54 questions
Writing 1 task 2 tasks 2 tasks 2 tasks
Oral 2 candidates 2 candidates - 2 candidates
Time 2.45 hours 4 hours 2 hours 3.25 hours

Exam Preparation Programs

1-day summaries of the law heavily tested.

C2 - Mastery

Proficient users can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read, summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. They can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

C1 - Operational Proficiency

Advanced users can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. They can express themselves fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions, use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes. They can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

B2 - Vantage

High intermediate students can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization. They can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. They can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.