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Home > Journal > English language levels and how to determine yours

English language levels and how to determine yours

Author: Svitlana Fedorchuk
English language levels and how to determine yours

Everyone who learns English or has done so in the past, has different levels of knowledge and skills. Based on this indicator, all people can be divided into different English skills levels – from beginner to professional.

Not quite sure what this is about? Then read on: today we will detail the levels according to the CEFR scale, how to determine yours and why it's important to do so.


1. The sense of determining English language levels
2. The English language knowledge levels and CEFR
     2.1. A1 Elementary
     2.2. A2 Pre-Intermediate
     2.3. B1 Intermediate
     2.4. B2 Upper-Intermediate
     2.5. C1 Advanced
     2.6. C2 Proficiency
3. How to determine your English knowledge level

The sense of determining English language levels

Most people communicate in English comfortably without even thinking about their proficiency level. The main thing is to understand your partner and be able to express one's own thoughts freely. However, there are situations when an accurate assessment of your skills may be needed. For example, here are 5 reasons to find out your level in a foreign language:

  1. To include this information in your resume. In order to immediately understand whether an employer can entrust you with the current vacancy, they may need information about your English level. At the same time, you can attract the attention of HRs because sometimes proficiency in English is valued higher than other professional qualities.

  2. For a language school to be able to place you in a suitable group for learning. It's important that all students have a similar proficiency level. Rapid acquisition of new knowledge is only possible when students are at approximately the same level. Therefore, before starting classes, language schools typically assess all applicants. This assessment may involve online tests along with an interview conducted by an experienced instructor.

  3. When applying for immigration documents. For example, you won't be able to submit an application for immigration through the Express Entry system to Canada if you don't indicate your English and/or French language knowledge level (as Canada is a bilingual country). Many other countries around the world have similar immigration policies.

  4. In order to enroll in a foreign educational institution. Before applying for admission, it's essential to assess your language skills and indicate the corresponding proficiency level in your application or motivational letter. This is because studying abroad typically requires knowledge of either the official language of the country or English.

  5. Taking a proficiency test can also be beneficial for boosting self-esteem and understanding your own achievements. Sometimes, it may feel like you're wasting money and time learning a language with English self-study books, especially without a teacher. In such cases, undergoing an English language level test can help you see how much you've accomplished.

Even more, testing knowledge is a great way to find out which skills you excel at and which ones you need to improve. Because proficiency in any foreign language is not just about vocabulary, but also about skills such as speaking, understanding text, listening comprehension and writing without errors.

The English language knowledge levels and CEFR

The most commonly used classification for determining the level of proficiency in a foreign language is CEFR / CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). You have probably seen this classification before:

  • A1 or Elementary;
  • A2 or Pre-Intermediate – these are beginners who have already mastered the basic elements of English;
  • B1 or Intermediate – average level;
  • B2 or Upper-Intermediate – above-average level;
  • C1 or Advanced – defined as progressive;
  • C2 or Proficient – the level of experienced native speakers.


CEFRL classification (banner)

CEFRL English language levels

Language schools often use a more detailed classification of English learning levels to create comfortable courses for different students. In addition to the mentioned levels, they add level A0 or Starter – these are students who do not speak the language at all and need to learn the alphabet. There is also a transitional stage between A2 and B1, known as Pre-Intermediate.

A more detailed understanding of the proficiency levels can be achieved through an English levels table outlining the specific skills a student should possess:

The English language level according to the CEFR

Reading and Writing 

Speaking and Listening

Knowledge of Grammar

Vocabulary size, number of words


Can understand a simple text with a small number of words, for example, someone's biography. Also capable of writing a text about themself or a short dictation.

Able to conduct brief conversations in order to learn more about preferences, and to share personal experience. Understand and can respond to questions asked in return.

Familiar with the basic rules of using simple present, past, and future tenses, as well as present continuous tense.

From 500 to 1,500


Can easily read texts up to 500 words, even if they contain unfamiliar vocabulary – up to 5 words. Can write texts up to 15 sentences, primarily relying on existing knowledge and occasionally using a dictionary.

Capable of engaging in short conversations on everyday topics, expressing opinions or requests. Understands short messages when spoken, better comprehending their content with subtitles.

Familiar with past continuous and present perfect constructions. Also proficient in using conditionals, gerunds, comparative adjectives, and several basic modal verbs. 

Up to 2,000


Сan read texts fluently, even if about 10% of the vocabulary is unfamiliar. Capable of writing a meaningful narrative or personal letter.

Can engage in dialogues on simple topics, expresses monologues with personal opinions lasting up to 3 minutes. Can comprehend the content of a conversation even in the presence of unfamiliar words.

Familiar with and employs the present perfect continuous tense, third conditional and passive voice constructions.

Up to 3,000


Can understand articles and literary texts almost flawlessly. Capable of writing articles on a wide range of topics.

Doesn't merely describe situations but can enrich narratives with details. Capable of engaging in dialogue with a native speaker. This English language knowledge level enables listening to lectures. 

Familiar with mixed conditional sentences, modal verbs, proficient in using prepositions, phrasal verbs, infinitives, gerunds and knowledgeable about numerous idioms.

Up to 4,000


Can read unadapted literature, fully capturing the content. Capable of writing professional and business texts, including scholarly papers.

Can engage in fluent communication, adapting speech according to its stylistics and mood. Capable of understanding native speakers, even when they speak with accents or regional dialects.

Familiar with the stylistic nuances of the English language and causative forms.

Up to 6,000


Can completely fluently comprehend English regardless of the text's subject matter, including slangs and specific expressions used in social media. Capable of writing any piece or business letter, providing maximum detail and depth on the topic.

Has such a broad vocabulary to engage in dialogues and monologues on any topic. Possesses an accent akin to native speakers. Capable of fully understanding the oral speech of foreigners, watching movies in their original language.

Capable of integrating knowledge across all English language levels. Demonstrates ease in employing grammatical structures. Enhances language skills through familiarity with informal phrases.

Over 6,000


English level: A1 Elementary

To begin learning English, it's essential to master the basic A1 level, which enables students to:

  • share or record a short story about themselves;
  • engage in dialogues on topics related to work, family and weather;
  • understand spoken language when simple sentences or questions are used;
  • use basic grammatical constructions.


A1 Elementary (banner)

Skills possessed by A1 graduates of language courses

The English course for beginners typically helps students build a small vocabulary size of around 1,000 words. Upon completion, students will be able to navigate pronouns, names of certain objects, know several verbs and count at least up to 100.

English level: A2 Pre-Intermediate

The basic English level Pre-Intermediate provides knowledge that enables students to:

  • construct sentences using words that have been previously learned;
  • easily understand texts written specifically for this level;
  • talk about their hobbies, favorite foods, or holidays;
  • use all three simple tenses in writing and speaking.


A2 Pre-Intermediate (banner)

The abilities and skills possessed by students at the Pre-Intermediate level

At this level, students can communicate with foreigners on social media or at a hotel.The vocabulary they acquire relates to sports, food items, popular hobbies, well-known personalities and immediate family members.

English level: B1 Intermediate

A student with an intermediate knowledge can easily handle tasks such as:

  • interacting with English news and exploring articles about tourism or cultures of different countries;
  • conducting personal correspondence or writing simple narratives about their day or even on more complex topics;
  • discussing challenging subjects that may relate to finance or differences between works of art.


B1 Intermediate (banner)

Characteristics of the Intermediate level

With a vocabulary of approximately 3,000 words, individuals can discuss their education, favorite films, visited cities, or work. Additionally, students can provide descriptions of other people and summarize the content of a novel they've read.

English level: B2 Upper-Intermediate

The Upper-Intermediate involves the capability to:

  • engage in fluent conversations and provide arguments in conflict situations;
  • almost fully comprehend the original English language used on television;
  • have a grasp of all verb forms and tenses.


B2 Upper-Intermediate (banner)

Description of the skills acquired by students after completing an Upper-Intermediate level course

The student's vocabulary expands by another 1,000 words, enabling discussions on general medical topics such as doctor's visits and diagnoses, political events and crimes. Furthermore, their range of vocabulary widens to express personal emotions, discuss shopping and address fashion-related topics.

English level: C1 Advanced

At the Advanced language knowledge level, students are able to:

  • read and discuss original texts;
  • communicate with native speakers of English using slang;
  • employ complex grammatical and lexical constructions both in writing and speaking;
  • process large volumes of information presented in English.


C1 Advanced (banner)

Achievements of students at the Advanced level

Thanks to English courses online at the Advanced level, students expand their vocabulary with terminology related to scientific activities, technologies, various professions, and cultures. Achieving a C1 proficiency enables opportunities for employment in various positions abroad.

English level: C2 Proficiency

At the C2, you will feel like a native speaker because you will be able to:

  • independently write complex and lengthy texts, including dissertations and literary works;
  • communicate on topics that are unfamiliar to you, using idiomatic expressions and professional jargon in conversation;
  • consume any content in its original language.


C2 Proficiency (banner)

Outstanding features of language proficiency at the C2 level

At the Proficiency level, a person can speak freely and naturally, without relying on literary or formal expressions commonly used by beginners. Such individuals are capable of understanding various meanings of a word depending on the context.

How to determine your English knowledge level

The simplest way to assess your proficiency in a foreign language is to take an online test. However, such assessments typically provide a very general evaluation that hardly takes into account your vocabulary, speaking, and conversational skills. Therefore, it's better to take recognized tests that allow you to obtain an appropriate international certificate of proficiency:

Keep in mind that some tests may be paid and conducted only abroad. If the assessment of your English language knowledge is needed solely for yourself, it would be more practical to approach a language school and undergo an interview.

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