Cambridge BEC Vantage / Higher certificates
"The different parts test different skills. Essentially, the test is teaching you more in depth techniques for analysing language and knowing how it is structured and organised."
Bec Vantage / Higher: 24 Units
Although the Bec Vantage and Bec Higher books are 24 Units, it is possible to go through 1 or 2 Units per week.
Ideally, I recommend a block of 20 weeks of 90 minutes.
Preparation: The Bec Practice Tests
There are practice test books for Bec Vantage and Higher that contain a full 4 tests.
If less time is available, students can do the listening and writing parts at home.
The 4 sections of the Bec Vantage / Higher business tests
The Bec Vantage is divide into 5 sections. The Bec Higher has 6.
This may be understanding how a theme develops in order through a text. It may be how grammar has been used in a text to organise the content.
In a preparation course we practice how to do the test. Technique and self study go hand in hand.
After 10 or 20 weeks we then move on to the practice test books to do a preparation test.
In the writing section of the test you are asked to write an email or a letter and a report.
In the Bec Higher the report is longer. You are assessed under 4 criteria:
- Communicative Achievement
In a preparation course we do frequent practices of the writing tasks, which can be done at home and marked online.
Students can follow the marks, which should rise as the course progresses.
The Listening section of the test is divided into 3 sections. In one part you are asked to fill in a text from the conversations you hear.
This information made specific figures or specific spellings. In the other two sections you are listening to understand the themes people are speaking about. Multiple choice answers are given.
In the preparation course, CD's and online material can be used for self study practice.
In the lessons we use some and practice the test using the listening texts.
Listening texts can improve fluency and accuracy.
Listening texts can be analysed for:
In the Speaking Part of the test you are assessed in 3 steps.
Firstly, in how you answer personal questions in a short chat about 2 minutes long.
Secondly, you work together with another student and discuss a business issue and how you would solve it.
Thirdly, the examiner asks you and the other student to expand on your answers.
Practice of the Speaking Part is integrated into 1:1 sessions to give good preparation in the final test.
As with the Writing Part the criteria are as follows:
- Accuracy of grammar
- Range of vocabulary and expressions
Scanning for Gist
The Cambridge tests provide students with a range of methods and techniques for activating thinking in relation to language.
'Gist' is a way fo determining the purpose of a text quickly and efficiently.
Getting Specific Info
After the scanning of a text to judge what kind off text it is, the different parts of the test look at more specific analysis.
You learn to read, listen, write and speak more carefully and accurately.
Learning to categorise, weigh up the pros and cons of an argument and identify the exact meaning behind communication.
Analytical skills are valuable and applicable to a variety of professions.
Cambridge FCE, CAE, Proficiency
The FCE is the first certificate of English which takes students up to B2 level.
The CAE is the second certificate to take, which goes up to C1.
Proficiency is the highest level certificate, up to C2.
At each level the shortest time to complete the test with a pass would (in exceptional cases be 20 weeks, 90 mins + 3 hours self study).
The tests can be done in shorter time with additional self study.
Realistically, test preparation comes on top of a good language level. A good level FCE is B1: CAE C1; Proficiency C2.
If you are not so fluent and accurate at these levels a 10 week intensive can get you where you need to be to start with test preparation.
Tests take place in all the major cities of Switzerland. Simply find the test you want, think of the time period, and check which level. For any questions feel free to contact me below.
As we have highlighted, expanding the range of vocabulary cannot be underestimated. The following page has example topic categories for further study.