• exam details

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET)

Preliminary (PET) tests communicative competence in each of the four language skills at an intermediate level (B1), approximately two thirds of the way to the First (FCE) exam.

At this level, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to communicate using English for everyday purposes. About 380 hours of study* are required to reach this level and it is recommended for students in upper primary or secondary school.

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) for Schools follows the same format as Cambridge English: Preliminary. The level of the question papers is the same and both versions of the exam lead to the same certificate. The only difference is that the content and treatment of topics in Preliminary (PET) for Schools version have been targeted at the interests and experiences of school students.

Teacher's resources Student's resources

Reading & WritingTOTAL 90 MINS
5 parts, 35 questions
In the Reading section, candidates have to demonstrate their ability to read and understand the main messages from postcards, emails, signs, newspapers and magazines.
3 parts, 7 questions
In the Writing section, candidates are required to show they can use vocabulary and structure correctly as well as write a short communicative message and an informal letter or story.
ListeningAPPROX. 30 MINS
4 parts, 22 questionsCandidates are required to demonstrate they can listen for key information, specific information and detailed meaning, including attitude and opinion.
Candidates listen to short recordings and long recordings which consist of monologues, interviews and informal conversations.
SpeakingAPPROX. 10 – 12 MINS
4 partsCandidates take part in conversation by asking/answering questions and talking about their likes and dislikes and other general information.
Candidates are required to give information, make suggestions, discuss alternatives, negotiate agreement, describe a picture and talk about their opinions, experiences and habits.
The Speaking test is conducted face to face with one or two other candidates and two examiners.


Teacher's Resources for Preliminary

Preliminary Listening – Teacher's Notes

Find tips to help ensure your students are familiar with the multiple-choice and multiple-matching exam-style listening tasks in the Preliminary exam.

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Preliminary Reading – Teacher's Notes

At Preliminary level it's important that teachers show students that there are different ways of reading. These tasks help students to develop key strategies and best practice when approaching their Reading test.

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Preliminary Speaking – Teacher's Notes

The Preliminary Speaking test is about communication, with an emphasis on discussion in Parts 2 and 4. These tips help you to equip your students with  confidence ahead of their exam.

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Preliminary Writing – Teacher's Notes

When preparing for their Writing test, students may initially need a model or scaffolding. These tasks will help your students to work on organising their writing and manage a given writing task.  

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Student's Resources for Preliminary

How great to go into an exam and know at least what to expect. For your Preliminary (PET) exam you will be expected to sit three exam papers: Reading and Writing (in one paper); Listening; and Speaking.

Each section of the exam is worth 25% of your total marks. A low mark in one section does not necessarily mean you will fail the exam, as it is the overall mark which counts. So if you are a strong speaker but a weak reader, you can use the marks from your speaking to balance out your low reading marks and still pass the exam.

Preliminary Checklist – Student's Notes

A quick checklist of 'dos and don'ts' to remember before and during the Preliminary exam.

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Preliminary Listening – Student's Notes

These tips are focused on each part of the Listening test and help you to develop key strategies to approach different tasks in the paper.

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Preliminary Reading – Student's Notes

Covering multiple-choice, short and long text questions, these Student's Notes offer suggestions on what to avoid and what to remember when sitting the Preliminary Reading test.

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Preliminary Speaking – Student's Notes

Information on what is expected from each part of a Speaking test with tips on how to approach the tasks with your partner.

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Preliminary Writing – Student's Notes

From transforming sentences to writing paragraphs, here are some tips to consider when preparing for the Preliminary Writing test.

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*The information above suggests how many hours students might need to spend to reach each level of the CEFR, but these figures are intended as a guideline only. Students may require more or less time and support depending on their own needs.