Business English Certificates (BEC)

Cambridge English : Business Certificates, also known as Business English Certificates (BEC), are recognised by employers, ministries, government bodies and professional organisations throughout the world. This valuable suite of three qualifications provides clear proof that you have the English skills to make you an asset to your employer.


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Why choose Cambridge Business English Certificates (BEC Exam)?



BEC exam
Clear evidence of your language ability
Employers value and rely on Cambridge Business English Certificates (BEC) because it is a thorough test of all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in a business context.
BEC in english
Real-life language skills
In today’s challenging business environment, companies are seeking employees with English language skills to help their organisation compete internationally. The content in BEC (Cambridge Business English Certificates) reflects everyday work and business tasks. Preparing for this exam will give you skills that will make you an asset to your employer.

Cambridge Business English Certificates (BEC), are a suite of three English language qualifications for international business.



Cambridge English : Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) qualification, shows employers that you have a good knowledge of English for practical, everyday use in business.



Test Format


Paper Content Marks
(% of total)
Purpose
Reading and Writing
(1 hour 30 minutes)
Reading :
7 parts
Writing :
2 parts
50% Shows you can read and understand the main points from graphs or charts, messages and emails, and can use vocabulary and structure correctly. You are also required to be able to produce two short pieces of writing: an internal communication, such as a note or a message, and some business correspondence, such as an email or a letter.
Listening
(about 40 minutes, including transfer time)
4 parts 25% Requires you to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials including interviews and discussions about everyday life.
Speaking
(12 minutes per pair of candidates)
3 parts 25% Shows your spoken English as you take part in conversation, asking and answering questions, and talking freely about your opinions, for example, when discussing business-related topics. Your Speaking test will be face-to-face with one or two other candidates. This makes your test more realistic and more reliable.



Reading and Writing

The Cambridge English : Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Reading and Writing paper has seven parts for Reading and two parts for Writing. There are different types of texts and questions.



Part 1 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 1? Five very short texts (they may be signs, messages, postcards, notes, emails, labels, etc.). You have to read them and choose which of the three sentences (A, B or C) is correct.
what do I have to practise? Reading notices and other short texts to understand the main message.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Matching)

What's in Part 2? Five short descriptions, often of people’s requirements, and one text to read. You have to match each person to part of the text.
What do I have to practise? Reading to find specific information.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Matching)

What's in Part 3? Eight graphs or charts (or one or more graphics with eight parts) and five questions. You need to match each question to a graph or part of a graph.
What do I have to practise? Reading and understanding visual information
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Right/Wrong/Doesn't say)

What's in Part 4? A text and seven questions. For each question, you have to decide if a statement is A 'Right' or B 'Wrong', according to the text, or if the information is not given in the text, you should choose C 'Doesn't say'.
What do I have to practise? Reading and finding detailed factual information.
How many questions are there? 7
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 5 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 5? A text, often from a leaflet or from a newspaper or magazine article, with six multiple-choice questions. Each question has three options.
What do I have to practise? Reading for gist (the main ideas) and specific information.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 6 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 6? A text (newspaper or magazine article, advert, leaflet, etc.) with twelve numbered spaces. Each space represents a missing word and you have to choose the right answer (A, B, or C).
What do I have to practise? Reading – understanding when grammar is correct and understanding the structure of a text.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 7 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 7? Two short texts (memos, emails, notices, adverts, etc.) and a form to complete. You have to read the texts and fill in the correct information (a word, a number or a phrase) in the empty spaces on the form.
What do I have to practise? Reading and transferring information.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 8 (Writing Part 1)

What's in Part 8? (Writing Part 1) An internal company communication. The instructions tell you who to write to and what you should write (e.g. a note, a message, a memo or an email).
What do I have to practise? Writing short messages to colleagues.
How many questions are there? 1
How much do I have to write? 30 – 40 words.
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 10 marks.



Part 9 (Writing Part 2)

What's in Part 9? (Writing Part 2) A piece of business correspondence (letter or email) or a notice, an advert, etc., to read. The instructions tell you what to write and who to write to.
What do I have to practise? Writing business letters to people outside your company.
How many questions are there? 1
How much do I have to write? 60 – 80 words
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 20 marks.


Listening

The Cambridge English : Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Listening paper has four parts. For each part, you have to listen to a recorded text or texts on business-related topics and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.



Part 1 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 1? Eight short conversations/monologues (one person speaking). For each recording, there is a multiple-choice question, which may be in the form of words or pictures. You have to listen to the recordings and choose the right answer (A, B or C).
What do I have to practise? Listening for specific information.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Note completion)

What's in Part 2? A short conversation or monologue which contains factual information and a form, table, chart or set of notes with gaps. You have to listen to the recording and write the correct information (dates, prices, percentages, figures, etc.) in the gaps.
What do I have to practise? Listening for specific information – numbers and spelling.
How many questions are there? 7
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Note completion)

What's in Part 3? A longer monologue and a page of notes or a form with gaps. You have to listen to the recording and fill in the missing information (one or two words) in the gaps.
What do I have to practise? Listening for specific information.
How many questions are there? 7
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 4? A longer recording (about 3 minutes) which may be an interview or a discussion between two or more speakers on a business-related topic. You have to listen to the recording and choose the right answer (A, B or C) for each of the eight multiple-choice questions.
What do I have to practise? Listening for gist (the main ideas) and specific information.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.


Speaking

The Cambridge English : Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Speaking test has three parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners talks to you and the other examiner listens and takes notes.



Part 1 (Interview)

What's in Part 1? A conversation with the examiner. The examiner asks questions and you give information about yourself and your opinions on business-related topics.
What do I have to practise? Talking about yourself, agreeing and disagreeing, expressing preferences.
How long do we have to speak? About 2 minutes



Part 2 (Long turn)

What's in Part 2? A 'mini-presentation' on a business theme. The examiner gives you a choice of two topics and you have 1 minute to prepare and then give a short talk lasting about 1 minute. Listen carefully when your partner speaks as the examiner will ask you which point you think is most important.
What do I have to practise? Giving a short talk on a business-related topic. Giving information and expressing opinions.
How long do we have to speak? About 5 minutes, including a 1-minute ‘long turn’ for each candidate.



Part 3 (Collaborative task)

What's in Part 3? A discussion with the other candidate on a business-related topic. The examiner describes a situation to you and will give you some black and white pictures or written text to help you. You have to talk to the other candidate for around 2 minutes about the situation and decide what to do.
What do I have to practise? Giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.
How long do we have to speak? About 5 minutes

Cambridge English : Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) qualification, shows employers that you are ready to work successfully in international business.



Test Format


Paper Content Marks
(% of total)
Purpose
Reading
(1 hour)
5 parts 25% Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as business publications and correspondence.
Writing
(45 minutes)
2 parts 25% Requires you to be able to produce two different pieces of writing, such as letters, reports, proposals and emails.
Listening
(about 40 minutes, including transfer time)
3 parts 25% Requires you to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as interviews, discussions and presentations.
Speaking
(14 minutes per pair of candidates)
3 parts 25% Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. You will take the Speaking test with one or two other candidates.


Reading

The Cambridge English : Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) Reading paper has five parts with different types of texts and questions.



Part 1 (Matching)

What's in Part 1? Either four short texts on a related topic or one text divided into four sections and a series of statements. You have to match each statement to the text or section where you can find the information.
what do I have to practise? Reading – scanning for gist and specific information.
How many questions are there? 7
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Matching)

What's in Part 2? A text with gaps and some sentences (A–G). Each gap represents a missing sentence. You have to read the text and the sentences and decide which sentence belongs in each gap.
What do I have to practise? Reading – understanding text structure.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 3? A single text with six comprehension questions. You have to read the text and choose the right answer for each question (A, B, C or D).
What do I have to practise? Reading for gist and specific information.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 4? A text with gaps. Each gap represents one word or phrase. You have to read the text and choose the right word or phrase to fill each gap from a choice of four (A, B, C or D).
What do I have to practise? Reading – vocabulary and structure.
How many questions are there? 15
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 5 (Proofreading)

What's in Part 5? A text in which some lines are correct and some lines have an extra, unnecessary word. If the line is correct, you write 'CORRECT' on your answer sheet. If the line is not correct, you have to write down the extra word.
What do I have to practise? Reading – understanding sentence structure and finding errors.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.


Writing

The Cambridge English : Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) Writing paper requires you to write two different pieces of business correspondence.



Part 1

What's in Part 1? A description of a business situation. You have to write an internal company communication using the information provided.
What do I have to practise? Writing a message, a memo or an email: giving instructions, explaining a development, asking for comments, requesting information, agreeing to requests, etc.
How many questions are there? 1 compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 40 – 50 words.
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 10 marks.



Part 2

What's in Part 2? Some material (letter, fax, email, note, notice, advert, graph, chart) to read. You have to write a piece of business correspondence, a report or a proposal based on the information.
What do I have to practise? Writing business correspondence (e.g. explaining, apologising, reassuring, complaining), reports (e.g. describing, summarising) or proposals (e.g. describing, summarising, recommending, persuading).
How many questions are there? 1 compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 120 – 140 words.
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 20 marks.


Listening

The Cambridge English : Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) Listening paper has three parts. For each part, you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.



Part 1 (Note completion)

What's in Part 1? Three monologues or dialogues. For each recording, you have to listen and fill in four gaps in a short text, such as a form.
What do I have to practise? Listening and noting specific information.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Matching)

What's in Part 2? Two sets of five short monologues (recordings of one person speaking). Each set is linked by a common theme and has a list of eight options (A–H). You have to match each speaker to one of the options.
What do I have to practise? Listening to identify topic, context, function, etc.
How many questions are there? 10
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 3? One longer conversation or monologue (interview, discussion, presentation, etc.) and some comprehension questions. You have to listen to the recording and choose the right answer (A, B or C) for each question.
What do I have to practise? Listening for details and main ideas.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.


Speaking

The Cambridge English : Business Vantage (BEC Vantage) Speaking test has three parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners conducts the test and the other examiner listens to what you say and takes notes.



Part 1 (Interview)

What's in Part 1? A conversation with the examiner. The examiner first asks general and then more business-related questions. You will have to talk briefly about yourself, your home, interests, studies and job.
What do I have to practise? Giving personal information. Talking about present circumstances, past experiences and future plans, expressing opinions, speculating, etc.
How long do we have to speak? About 3 minutes



Part 2 (Long turn)

What's in Part 2? A 'mini-presentation' on a business theme. The examiner gives you a choice of three topics (A, B or C). You have 1 minute to prepare to give a speech lasting approximately 1 minute. Listen carefully when your partner speaks as the examiner will ask you a question about what your partner says.
What do I have to practise? Making a longer speech on your own. Giving information, and expressing and justifying opinions.
How long do we have to speak? About 6 minutes



Part 3 (Collaborative task)

What's in Part 3? A discussion with the other candidate on a business-related topic. The examiner gives you a topic to discuss and you have to talk to the other candidate about the situation and decide together what to do. The examiner will then ask you some questions about the topic you’ve been given.
What do I have to practise? Expressing and justifying opinions, speculating, comparing and contrasting, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.
How long do we have to speak? You have to speak with your partner for about 3 minutes, and with the examiner for a further minute.

Cambridge English : Business Higher (BEC Higher) qualification, shows employers that you have achieved an advanced level of Business English.



Test Format


Paper Content Marks
(% of total)
Purpose
Reading
(1 hour)
6 parts 25% Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text.
Writing
(1 hour and 10 minutes)
2 parts 25% You need to be able to write a variety of different items such as memos, letters, emails, reports and proposals.
Listening
(about 40 minutes, including transfer time)
3 parts 25% You need to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as presentations, interviews and discussions.
Speaking
(16 minutes per pair of candidates)
3 parts 25% Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. Your Speaking test will be face-to-face with one or two other candidates. This makes your test more realistic and more reliable.


Reading

The Cambridge English : Business Higher (BEC Higher) Reading paper has six parts with different types of texts and questions. For each part, you have to read one long text or two or more shorter, related texts.



Part 1 (Matching)

What's in Part 1? Either a single text which is divided into sections or five short, related texts and a series of statements. You have to match each statement to the section or text where you can find the information.
what do I have to practise? Reading for gist and global meaning.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Matching)

What's in Part 2? A text with six numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing sentence, followed by some sentences (A–H). You have to read the text and the sentences and decide which sentence best fits each gap.
What do I have to practise? Understanding structure and reading for detail.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 3? A text followed by some multiple-choice questions. These may be either whole questions or incomplete sentences. For each one, there are four options and you have to choose A, B, C or D.
What do I have to practise? Understanding general points and specific details.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 4? A text with some numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing word. You have to choose the right word for each gap from four options (A, B, C or D).
What do I have to practise? Reading – vocabulary and structure.
How many questions are there? 10
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 5 (Open cloze)

What's in Part 5? A text with some numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing word. You have to identify the right word for each gap.
What do I have to practise? Reading – text structure and discourse features.
How many questions are there? 10
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 6 (Proofreading)

What's in Part 6? A text in which some lines are correct and some lines have an extra, unnecessary word. If the line is correct, you write 'CORRECT' on your answer sheet. If the line is not correct, you have to write the extra word down.
What do I have to practise? Reading – understanding sentence structure, error identification.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.


Writing

In the two parts of the Cambridge English : Business Higher (BEC Higher) Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English.



Part 1

What's in Part 1? A guided writing task. You have to write a short report (memo or email) based on some input in the form of graphs, bar charts or pie charts.
What do I have to practise? Analysing graphic information and expressing it in words: describing or comparing figures, making inferences.
How many questions are there? 1 compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 120 – 140 words.
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 10 marks.



Part 2

What's in Part 2? A choice of three questions: a piece of business correspondence (letter, fax or email), a report (memo or email), or a proposal (memo or email). For the question you choose, you have to read some input material which describes a situation and write the specified response.
What do I have to practise? Writing a report (describing, summarising), correspondence (explaining, apologising, reassuring, complaining) or a proposal (describing, summarising, recommending, persuading).
How many questions are there? One question from a choice of three.
How much do I have to write? 200 – 250 words
How many marks are there? This question has a total of 20 marks.


Listening

The Cambridge English : Business Higher (BEC Higher) Listening paper has five parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.



Part 1 (Note completion)

What's in Part 1? A monologue of 2–3 minutes which contains some information. To answer the questions, you have to take notes or complete sentences using a word or a short phrase (up to three words).
What do I have to practise? Listening for and noting specific information.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Matching)

What's in Part 2? Five short monologues linked by theme or topic, by five different speakers, followed by two tasks which relate to the content and purpose of the monologues. You listen to the recordings and you then have to match each speaker to one of the items (A–H) in Task 1 and one of the items (A–H) in Task 2.
What do I have to practise? Listening to identify topic, context, function, speaker’s opinion, etc.
How many questions are there? 10
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 3? A conversation/interview/discussion between two or more people and some multiple-choice questions. You listen to the recording and then choose the correct answer from three options (A, B or C).
What do I have to practise? Listening for gist, specific information, attitudes, etc.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.


Speaking

The Cambridge English : Business Higher (BEC Higher) Speaking test has three parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners (the interlocutor) conducts the test and the other examiner (the assessor) listens to what you say and takes notes.



Part 1 (Interview)

What's in Part 1? Conversation with the interlocutor. The interlocutor asks you questions on a number of personal or work-related subjects.
What do I have to practise? Giving personal information and expressing opinions.
How long do we have to speak? About 3 minutes



Part 2 (Long turn)

What's in Part 2? A 'mini-presentation' on a business theme. The examiner gives you a choice of three topics (A, B or C). You have 1 minute to prepare to give a speech lasting approximately 1 minute. Listen carefully when your partner speaks as you have to ask a question when they have finished.
What do I have to practise? Talking on your own about something: giving information, and expressing and justifying opinions.
How long do we have to speak? About 6 minutes



Part 3 (Collaborative task)

What's in Part 3? A discussion with the other candidate. The examiner gives you a business-related situation with two discussion points to talk about. You have to talk to the other candidate about the situation and decide together what to do. The examiner will then extend the discussion.
What do I have to practise? Turn-taking, negotiating, collaborating, exchanging information, expressing and justifying opinions, speculating, comparing and contrasting, agreeing and/or disagreeing, etc.
How long do we have to speak? About 7 minutes