AO of the year

ESB Entry Level Awards in ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 3)

Overview: ESB’s ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are designed for people above the age of 16 years’ old who live, study or work in the United Kingdom.

ESB’s Entry Level Awards in ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 3) are aimed at learners who can read and understand short, straightforward texts on familiar topics and obtain information from short documents, familiar sources and signs and symbols. These qualifications are based on the National Standards for Adult Literacy and aligned to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. They are also regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations (Ofqual) and Qualifications in Wales (QW).

ReadingWritingSpeaking & Listening
Assessment methodAssessment by external assessors
Accreditation start date1st of January, 2015
Cost per learner£15.00£15.00£45.00
Guided Learning Hours (GLH)6090120
Total Qualification Time (TQT)70100130
Qualification number601/5411/1601/5444/5601/5407/X
Age range14-16, 16-19, 19+
An ESB International learner may be anyone who speaks English as an acquired language, e.g.
  • a learner at an FE college or Local Authority learning centre
  • a learner in a community ESOL programme
  • a learner enrolled at university
  • a learner attending a private training organisation
  • a Job Centre Plus learner
  • a learner on a workplace learning course
  • a young learner on a discrete ESOL course
  • Reading

    The assessment is a 60-minute paper which consists of three tasks. There are 21 questions in the paper. Question types, text types and assessment criteria are listed in the Entry 3 Reading specification. To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-4 in the Entry 3 Reading Specification.


    The assessment is a 60-minute written paper which consists of three tasks. Tasks and assessment criteria are listed in the Entry 3 Writing Specification. To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-2 in the Entry 3 Writing Specification.

    Speaking & Listening

    The assessment is approximately 29 minutes, completed in pairs and consists of four sections:

    • Exchanging personal information
    • Giving an unprepared talk
    • Taking part in a role play
    • Listening to two short texts and taking part in a discussion

    To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-4 in the Entry 3 Speaking and Listening Specification.


    There are 21 questions in the Entry 3 Reading Skills for Life paper. The questions may include:

    • Multiple-choice
    • Table completion
    • Matching exercises
    • Cloze
    • Direct answers

    The texts may be any of the following:

    • Simple narratives
    • Public signs and notices
    • Emails and letters
    • Notes and messages
    • Lists and forms, leaflets and posters

    Task One consists of a Form that is intended for an employer, organisation or official. It should be approximately 50 words in length.

    Task Two consists of an article, description or report for a general audience/organisation and requires a written plan. It should be approximately 100 words in length.

    Task Three consists of a narrative, letter or Email to be read by a friend or general audience. It should be approximately 100 words in length. 

    Task One requires the learners to ask their partner for personal information about past events, present activities and future plans. The assessor will then encourage more discussion by asking questions about their responses (6 minutes).

    Task Two involves the assessor providing a topic related to the learners’ personal experiences, likes and dislikes, work and hobbies. Each learner responds in an extended turn and their partner listens and asks two questions. (8 minutes)

    In Task Three, the assessor describes a situation and gives instructions for a role-play. The situation is an everyday context within the leaners’ experience and may involve complaining, making an arrangement or asking for information. The learners discuss the issue, and make a plan to resolve it. (5 minutes)

    Task Four introduces a listening exercise where the learners will listen to two monologues or dialogues that cover a range of everyday situations. Each learner will answer a yes/no question and a detail question. The process is the same for both texts. (10 minutes)

    What support is available to deliver Entry 3 Skills for Life assessments?

    ESB International offers a wide range of resources at Entry 3 designed for both ESOL Tutors to deliver effective learning for their groups and for learners to give them the English language skills they need to achieve their aspirations.

    We also offer support for centre organisers booking our assessments and tutors preparing both their learners and centre for assessment day.

    What funding is available to my centre to help deliver Entry 3 Skills for Life assessments

    We are incredibly passionate about providing accessible qualifications to as many learners as possible to enable them to fulfil their potential. We understand that in order to provide assessments for learners, centres may need an extra helping hand to assist them with the cost. We not only promote external funding options that centres may be able to utilise, but also provide financial support to centres through our Christabel Burniston Fund. To find out more, please use the links below.

    Frequently Asked Questions about our ESOL Skills for Life qualifications

    1. 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. This 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.

    2. 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

    3. 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 International. This allows you more time for teaching and learning.

    4. 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.

    5. Can I do the S&L 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, please visit: our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy.

    6. 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.