2.6.21: Update to UK centres regarding remote and face-to-face assessment for the rest of the academic year

Qualification Guidance

Since you’re here, you must be interested in finding out more about our qualifications? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the types of skills, experience and outcomes that your learners will acquire when taking our assessments. It will also go over all the necessary information that a centre will need to know about our qualifications, such as how to book assessments, the recommended age/level for candidates entered into specific qualifications, the format and how long the assessments last and so much more.

If you know which line of qualifications you are interested in, please click the tab below to open the guide. If not, then please click here to find out more information about which line of our qualifications are best suited to your learners.

What qualifications does ESB offer?

Below are some frequently asked questions about our qualifications. Have a look through our different product lines to find out which ones are right for your learners.

Which of our Speech qualifications are recognised and regulated? Please click here to find out which of our speech qualifications are regulated by Ofqual, Qualifications Wales (QiW) and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA).
Do your learners need prior knowledge, skills or experience to complete our Speech qualifications? No prior learning, other qualification or units are needed to enrol on these qualifications. Learners can be entered for any qualification appropriate to their ability and needs.
What is the preparation time for our Speech Qualifications? Depending on the qualifications that you choose for your learners, the Guided Learning Hours (GLH) could vary from 12 hours – 40 hours. The Guided Learning Hours refer to the suggested number of hours for a learner to be taught by a teacher, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training in preparing for these qualifications.

In addition to the Guided Learning Hours, learners should also dedicate some time to studying on their own. We do advise that the maximum preparation time should be no longer than a term to ensure learners remain focused. These figures are a guide and are not definitive as people learn at different rates depending on their personal circumstances.

How do I prepare my learners for their assessments? To prepare for the assessment itself, registered centres can access resources to support you to prepare for each qualification along the way.
How long will it take to get my learners’ results and certificate? We make it a priority to send results and certificates out to centres quickly. Our turnaround time for results is five working days, or ten working days in our Peak Periods (May, June and July).
Do any of our Speech qualifications carry UCAS tariff points? Yes! Our Level 3 Graded Examinations in Speech qualifications and our Level 3 Debating qualification carry UCAS tariff points.

– ESB Level 3 Certificate in Speech (Grade 6)

– ESB Level 3 Certificate in Speech (Grade 8)

– ESB Level 3 Award in Debating

These qualifications are accepted by the UK Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and carry the following UCAS Tariff points for university and HE entry:

ESB Level 3 Certificate in Speech (Grade 6)

Pass/Good Pass – 8 UCAS points

Merit/Merit Plus – 10 UCAS points

Distinction – 12 UCAS points

ESB Level 3 Certificate in Speech (Grade 8)

Pass/Good Pass – 24 UCAS points

Merit/Merit Plus – 27 UCAS points

Distinction – 30 UCAS points

ESB Level 3 Award in Debating

Pass – 4 UCAS points

Merit – 8 UCAS points

Distinction – 12 UCAS points

Please note, only our Level 3 Award in Debating is visible in the look-up function on the UCAS Website. For our Graded Examinations in Speech, please see Annex B of the Tariff Table.

How do I apply for a Reasonable Adjustment? Assessment should be a fair test of learners’ skills and knowledge; for some learners the usual format of assessment may not be suitable or accessible. Learners with specific needs can apply for reasonable adjustments to be made to the assessment. For our policy in relation to access arrangements, please visit here.
Where can I download the Qualification Specifications? To view a detailed specification for any of our Speech qualifications, please click here to view our qualification filter page. On this page, you can search for specific qualifications or use the filter questions on the left-hand side of the page to find qualifications which match your learners’ needs. Once you have found the qualification that you are interested in, you can download its specification. Our specifications are intended to support teachers in the classroom and include information on how the assessments will be conducted and the skills, knowledge and understanding to be assessed.

Additionally, if you still have unanswered questions about our Speech qualifications, please contact our Product Development Team. We are always here to answer any queries you may have.

Do we provide Speech qualifications for EAL learners? Yes. We provide a suite of Entry Level Graded Examinations in Speech for learners who speak English as an additional language which are available at three levels: Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3. The EAL suite of Graded Examinations is mapped to the Common European Framework for Languages. Please click here here to find out more about these qualifications.

ESB Entry Level Award in Graded Examinations in Speech (Entry 1) (EAL-A1)

ESB Entry Level Award in Graded Examinations in Speech (Entry 2) (EAL-A2)

ESB Entry Level Award in Graded Examinations in Speech (Entry 3) (EAL-B1)

Are any of our Speech qualifications mapped to the National Curriculum? Our Graded Examinations in Speech are mapped to the National Curriculum in England in relation to its requirements in Spoken Language at Key Stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Furthermore, it can be flexibly taught; it can be embedded into the classroom teaching of a curriculum topic or delivered as a standalone activity. This qualification can also support the teaching of national curricula in English and Literacy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In addition, it can be used by teachers to help deliver Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and can contribute to learners’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development and the promotion of citizenship and British values through the content used for talks, poetry and books.

We are a new centre, can we get any training? If you would like to find out more about the type of training available, please contact us.
Can I use Speech qualifications in a mixed ability setting? Yes. The entry point to your ESB journey may be customised to suit the learners’ own needs and abilities. Learners can be entered for the assessment that best suits their strengths, abilities and interests, whether that be an English as an Additional Language (EAL) qualification, a higher or lower grade, group speaking or debating.

If you still have unanswered questions about our speech qualifications, please contact our Product Development Team. We are always here to answer any queries you may have.

Can I request a replacement certificate?

An ESB learner, centre (on behalf of a leaner) or parent/guardian (on behalf of a learner), can request a replacement certificate if the original has been lost or damaged. A fee of £30.00 is charged per certificate.

To make a request, download and complete a Replacement Certificate Form and return it to us at replacementcerts@esbuk.org. Please allow a period of 14 working days for a replacement certificate to be issued and dispatched once payment has been received.

For more information, please see our Replacement Certificates Policy.

What language qualifications does ESB provide? ESB’s suite of ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are as follows. We provide three types of assessment which are available at five different levels (Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1, Level 2). ESB assesses a candidate’s Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening skills.
Who are these qualifications designed for? Our assessments are designed for individuals, above the age of 16 years, who live, study or work in the United Kingdom and who wish to develop their English Language skills.

– Entry 1: Aimed at learners who have a little literacy knowledge or experience in English.

– Entry 2: Aimed at learners who have some literacy knowledge or experience in English

– Entry 3: Aimed at learners who have a good literacy knowledge or experience in English.

– Level 1: Aimed at learners who have a very good literacy knowledge or experience in English.

– Level 2: Aimed at learners who have an excellent literacy knowledge or experience in English.

Do you have any qualifications for people who are just starting to learn English? Yes. We provide a Pre-Entry assessment in speaking and listening which is a non-regulated qualification that is a stepping stone to the ESOL Skills for Life regulated qualifications. For many learners, it will be their first experience of an assessment in many years, and will be an opportunity for them to experience an external assessment in a supportive, positive environment.
Are ESB qualifications recognised and regulated? ESB ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are based on the National Standards for Adult Literacy and aligned to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. They are regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and Qualifications in Wales (QiW).
Does the Home Office recognise ESOL Skills for Life qualifications? No. The Home Office requires a Secure English Language Test (SELT) taken in a SELT centre. See here.
Where can I take an ESB ESOL Skills for Life assessment? Speaking and Listening assessments take place at your centre and are delivered by our team of supportive, experienced assessors. Reading and Writing assessments are also completed at your centre and sent to be marked by ESB. This allows you more time for teaching and learning.
What if my speaking skills are much stronger than my writing skills? That’s fine. If your centre allows it, you can enter for a writing Award at one level, and a Speaking and Listening Award at a higher level.
Do your learners need prior knowledge, skills or experience to complete these qualifications? There are no prior learning or formal qualification requirements for ESB ESOL Skills for Life qualifications. Learners can be entered for the Speaking and Listening, Reading or Writing Awards appropriate for their ability and needs.
What is the preparation time for these qualifications? For the Speaking and Listening qualifications, we suggest 120 guided learning hours (GLH), for Reading we suggest 60 guided learning hours and for Writing, we suggest 90 guided learning hours. This refers to the suggested number of hours for a learner to be taught by an English teacher, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training in preparing for these qualifications.

In addition to the guided learning hours, learners should also spend some time studying on their own. These figures are a guide and are not definitive, as people learn at different rates depending on their circumstances and opportunities.

How do I prepare my learners for the assessment? ESB ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are aligned to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum and are designed to be authentic and reflect life in the UK, so schemes of work based on this will be a sound preparation for the assessments. To prepare for the assessment itself, please click here to view our Reading and Writing sample papers, as well as Speaking and Listening assessment videos.
How long will it take to get my results and certificate? We make it a priority to send results and certificates out to centres quickly. Our turnaround time for results is five working days, or ten working days in our Peak Periods (May, June and July).
How soon can we book a re-sit? The minimum advanced booking period is 28 days, except for ESOL Reading and Writing assessments, which is 2 days. See our Centre Handbook (page 4). This is the booking period regardless of whether it’s a re-sit or not.
What is the difference between Awards and Certificates? An Award assesses an individual mode e.g. Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing. Once you have achieved an Award in all three modes at the same level, you can get a Certificate. For example, if you complete Level 1 Writing, you will receive an ‘’ESB Level 1 Award in ESOL Skills for Life (Writing). If you also complete Reading, and Speaking and Listening at Level 1, you can get the ‘’ESB Level 1 Certificate in ESOL Skills for Life’’.
If I take my Reading assessment at one college, and the other two Awards at another college, can I get a full Certificate? Yes, you can!
For Level 1 and Level 2 Speaking and Listening, do I have to do a PowerPoint presentation? Learners may use visual aids during their presentation, however, these are not compulsory.
Can I do the Speaking and Listening assessment if I have a hearing/speaking/processing impairment? Yes! Learners with specific needs are able apply for reasonable adjustments to be made to the assessment. If you have any specific questions about reasonable adjustments, please email us. For further information about our policy in relation to access arrangements, visit our policy here.
Can Young Learners take ESOL Skills for Life qualifications? No. Skills for Life assessments are for people over 16. Younger learners can do the English as an Additional Language (EAL) Qualifications for Young Learners.

The Awards in EAL are mapped to the ESOL Core Curriculum and referenced to the Common European Framework for Languages. Our EAL qualifications for Young Learners are accessible at five levels from Entry 1 to Level 2.

– ESB Entry Level Award in EAL for Young Learners (Entry 1)

– ESB Entry Level Award in EAL for Young Learners (Entry 2)

– ESB Entry Level Award in EAL for Young Learners (Entry 3)

– ESB Level 1 Award in EAL for Young Learners

– ESB Level 2 Award in EAL for Young Learners

Who are the English as an Additional Language (EAL) qualifications for Young Learners designed for? Aged 5-18 year olds who speak English as an acquired language.
Where can I download the qualification specifications? To view a detailed specification for each ESOL Skills for Life and EAL qualification, please click here. Our specifications are intended to support ESOL teachers and learners in the classroom and include information on how the assessments will be conducted and the range of language to be assessed.
Can I request a replacement certificate?

An ESB learner, centre (on behalf of a leaner) or parent/guardian (on behalf of a learner), can request a replacement certificate if the original has been lost or damaged. A fee of £30.00 is charged per certificate.

To make a request, download and complete a Replacement Certificate Form and return it to us at replacementcerts@esbuk.org. Please allow a period of 14 working days for a replacement certificate to be issued and dispatched once payment has been received.

For more information, please see our Replacement Certificates Policy.

What ESOL International qualifications does ESB offer? ESB’s suite of qualifications for ESOL International can be found here. Please click on each qualification to download a detailed specification which is intended to support ESOL teachers and learners in the classroom which includes information on how the assessments are conducted and the range of language to be assessed. We offer unregulated qualifications for Young Learners aged 6 to 15 years old who wish to progress onto B1-C2 examinations.
Are ESB’s ESOL International qualifications regulated and recognised? Yes! Our ESB Entry Level 3 (B1), Level 1 (B2), Level 2 (C1) and Level 3 (C2) qualifications are recognised and regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Our Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International C2 qualification also comes with the added attraction of gaining up to 36 UCAS points, a valuable incentive for learners wanting to access higher education in the UK.
Who are these qualifications designed for? Our regulated qualifications from B1-C2 are suitable for learners wishing to improve their level of general English for personal, academic or professional reasons.
Do you need prior knowledge, skills or experience to complete these qualifications? There are no prior learning or formal qualification requirements for ESB ESOL International qualifications. Each qualification level in the ESB International ESOL qualification suite is a stand-alone qualification and learners are entered for listening, reading, use of English, writing and speaking at the same level. Tutors should ensure that the qualification level learners are entered for reflects their ability and needs.
How do I receive my learners results and certificates? Through a local, exclusive centre, ESB reduces much of the administrative burden on language schools by handling the administration of the results and certification. To make our qualifications more digitally accessible and efficient, secure electronic certificates, starting in the Summer 2021, will be provided for your learners of B1 – C2 qualifications. To find out more about this development, please click here.
What is the recommended preparation time for these qualifications? Please see below the suggested number of hours for a learner to be taught by an English teacher, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training, in preparing for these qualifications.

– B1: 200 hours

– B2: 300 hours

– C1: 250 hours

– C2: 300 hours

How are your learners assessed? (Listening/Reading/Writing/Use of English) Learners are assessed at every level in all four core language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking

For Listening, Reading, Use of English and Writing: Candidates receive one question paper with four sections: listening, reading, use of English and writing. In order to suit all centres’ and learners’ needs, we have recently started providing online examinations in addition to paper-based examinations. For more information about our online assessments, please click here.

– B1: 2 hours

– B2: 2 hours 30 minutes

– C1: 2 hours 40 minutes

– C2: 3 hours

How are you learners assessed? (Speaking/Oral assessments) Learners are assessed at every level in five core language skills.

For Speaking: The face-to-face speaking examination takes place separately. The learner is assessed in pairs. In the event of an odd number of candidates, examinations may be conducted with three candidates.

– B1: 11 minutes

– B2: 11 minutes

– C1: 13 minutes

– C2: 15 minutes

Does the Home Office recognise ESOL International Qualifications? If you intend to use an English language test in your immigration or nationality application, you must take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in a SELT centre. Find out more here.

If you need any further qualification guidance about any of our product lines, please contact our Product Development Team. We are always here to answer any queries you may have.