B1 Preliminary

What is B1 Preliminary?

B1 Preliminary is a test of English at intermediate level (CEFR B1). B1 Preliminary is an intermediate level qualification in practical everyday English language skills.

The B1 Preliminary English Test certificate shows the candidate’s score on the Cambridge English Scale for each of the four exam papers, overall score on the Cambridge English Scale and a grade: A – ‘Distinction’; B – ‘Pass with Merit’; or C – ‘Pass’:

  • Grade A (Distinction): a scale score of 160 – 170 (CEFR B2)
  • Grade B (Pass with Merit): a scale score of 153 – 159 (CEFR В1)
  • Grade C (Pass): a scale score of 140 – 152 (CEFR В1)
  • Level A2: a scale score of 120 – 139

If you achieve a Grade A (Distinction) in your exam, you will receive a Preliminary English Test certificate stating that you demonstrated ability at Level B2 (similar to B2 First). If you achieve a Grade B or Grade C (Pass with Merit or Pass), you will receive the Preliminary English Test certificate at Level B1. If a candidate’s performance is below Level B1, but falls within Level A2, they will receive a Cambridge English certificate stating that they demonstrated ability at Level A2 (similar to A2 Key).

B1 Preliminary has 4 papers


45 mins

Candidates need to be able to understand the main points from signs, newspapers and magazines and use vocabulary and structures correctly.


45 mins

Candidates need to be able to respond to an email and to write either an article or a story.


approx 30 mins

Candidates need to show they can follow and understand a range of spoken materials including announcements and discussions about everyday life.


10-12 mins

Candidates are tested on their ability to take part in a conversation on familiar topics by answering and asking simple questions and talking about interests, opinions, experiences, habits, etc.


More about the exam format


Exam preparation materials

Sample papers to prepare the reading, listening and writing parts are available on the Cambridge Assessment English website.

If you are interested in effective ways of learning English and improving your language skills, please visit the Learning English section of the Cambridge Assessment English website, where you can find various exam resources and preparation materials, including free English games and online learning resources.

The Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University also holds B1 Preliminary for Schools. This exam is targeted at the same CEFR level and has the same structure as B1 Preliminary, but with content aimed at school-age learners rather than adults.