Warsaw Univeristy of technology (9)

What is B2 level?

CEFR – what is it?

English is used all over the world for working, studying or entertainment.  More and more non- native speakers use English successfully every day and confidently state that their English is bad, good or very good. Is this the case? How to compare language skills of people who have grown up in various countries and cultures and were subjected to different educational systems. People whose first languages, backgrounds and qualifications vary so much. How can their knowledge and skills be described, assessed and finally compared?

One way of doing it is through the CEFR - The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, and Assessment.* This document was published by the Council of Europe in 2001. The document has been translated into 39 languages among which there are Chinese, Turkish and Arabic versions, available online. Since then CEFR has been widely used in education by students, teachers, course book writers, examination bodies, and all educational institutions, and outside of education by recruitment officers, career advisers, lawyers   as well as foreign language users all over the world.


CEFR levels

The Common European Framework for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment distinguishes six main levels of proficiency: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 which are shown in the diagram below.    (Diagram1). Students who start their adventure with a foreign language are usually at level A1. Those whose knowledge and skills are similar to educated native speakers can be described as C2 users.


B2 level ( Vantage)

B2 language users can use a foreign language freely in everyday situations.

A B2 language user 

  • can follow most TV news programmes and the majority of films, 
  • can express the advantages and disadvantages of their point of  view  in speech,
  • can handle an interview with ease,
  • is capable of writing a standard formal letter,
  • is able to find relevant information in a long and complex text while reading.

Please consult CEFR for a more detailed description.

Here are the examples of the word “work” used in English by learners of various levels.

A1 student: “I work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.” (do a job)
A2 student: “These computers work OK” (operate)
B1 student: “Ahmed and Lee work out for two hours a day” (do physical exercise)
B2 student: “Let me work it out. They don’t want to employ you because you are overqualified?” (think about the problem and manage to understand it)

Universities and employers tend to require a minimum of B2 language skills from potential students or employees who wish to study or work in a foreign language. Therefore most international examination institutions offer certification at this level.


Short name of the exam B2 level Score Full name of the examination Examination Institution
PTE General Level 3 Pearson Test of English: General Edexcel
 First Grade B, C
160 – 180 on Cambridge English Scale
 Cambridge First Cambridge English Language Assessment
 IELTS Grade  from 5.5 to 6.5 ( out of 9) International English Language Testing System Cambridge English Language Assessment
 TOEFL iBT 87-109
(out of 120)
Test of English as A Foreign Language Education Testing Services, University of Princeton

How quickly can I get a B2 qualification?

The answer to this question is quite complex and depends on your current language level and skills, the number of hours you invest in studying and using the language inside and outside the classroom.
In the diagram below (Diagram 2) you may find the approximate figures of input and achievement that tend to be true for most learners but not for everyone. Some native speakers never reach level B2 in their mother tongue because they do not need to use their language skills at this level in their every day life.


Pearson Comparison table