|EE-007| PET – B1: Preliminary – an overview

Hello Exam Seekers,

Like all the other examinations that had their names altered, the PET (Preliminary English Test), is today known as Cambridge English: B1 Preliminary.

Cambridge English B1 Preliminary
Cambridge English – B1 Preliminary

What does Cambridge English B1 Preliminary involve?

Different from A2: Key, which is a beginner-level English language exam, the B1: Preliminary shows that you have mastered the basics of English and now have practical language skills for everyday use. It is an intermediate-level exam that shows that the holder of this certificate:

  • Can read simple textbooks and articles in English;
  • Can write letters and e-mails on everyday subjects;
  • Can take meeting notes;
  • Shows awareness of opinions and mood in spoken and written English.

The B1 Preliminary exam is divided into four papers: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Each section is composed of different parts, and each one carries different marks, as you can see below:

Cambridge English B1 Preliminary Table of content
Cambridge English B1 Preliminary Table of content
  • Writing: this exam shows that candidates can use vocabulary and structure correctly. It consists of two parts with 2 questions – 20 marks each. Candidates have 45 minutes to complete this exam and it is 25% of the overall mark:
  • Listening: this exam shows that candidates have to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials including announcements and discussions about everyday life. It consists of four parts with 25 questions – 1 mark each. The tracks will be played twice before moving on to the following piece. The full recording takes approximately 30 minutes for candidates to answer, and it is 25% of the overall mark.
    • Part 1: Multiple Choice (7 questions);
    • Part 2: Multiple Choice (6 questions);
    • Part 3: Gap Fill (6 questions);
    • Part 4: Multiple Choice (6 questions);
  • Speaking: this exam shows how good candidates spoken English is, as you take part in conversations by asking/answering questions and talking, for example, about your likes and dislikes. It consists of four parts. Candidates will take this exam with one or two other candidates and two examiners. It takes an average of 10-12 minutes. It is 25% of the overall mark.
    • Part 1: Interview (2 min)
    • Part 2: Extended Turn (3 min)
    • Part 3: Discussion (4 min)
    • Part 4: General Conversation (3 min)

How are the grades calculated?

The candidates who apply for B1 Preliminary are assessed on a range of skills and on their ability to communicate. While in the Listening test the candidate has to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials (including announcements and discussions about everyday life), in the Reading, the candidate has to be able to read and understand the main points from signs, newspapers, and magazines. In the Speaking test, the candidate is being assessed on his/her ability to interact with their partner and to continue a conversation for a period, as well as their use of language. As for the Writing test, the candidate is assessed in his/her use of vocabulary and structure correctly

Therefore candidates don’t need to pass all four papers to pass the whole exam. For instance, if a candidate does very well in Reading, Speaking, and Listening, but not so well in Writing, it is still possible to pass the exam. The weighting of each of the four skills is equal.

B1 Preliminary Scale
B1 Preliminary Scale

The exam is targeted at Level B1 of the CEFR, but, the examination also provides reliable assessment at the level above B1 (Level B2) and the level below (Level A2).

So, if you achieve a score between 160 and 170 you are awarded a Grade A, this means that you performed exceptionally well and that your English is above B1 level, the level of Cambridge English: Preliminary. Your certificate will state that you showed ability at Level B2 in this exam. If you achieve a score between 140 and 159, you are awarded Grade B or C in the exam, you will receive the B1 Preliminary certificate at Level B1. If your performance is below B1 level, but within an A2 level (score between 120-140), you will get a Cambridge English certificate stating that you showed ability at Level A2. Scores between 102 and 119 are also reported on your Statement of Results, but you will not receive the Preliminary English Test certificate.

B1 Preliminary and B1 Preliminary for Schools

When registering for the B1: Preliminary you have to make some decisions. You have to decide if you are taking the paper-based or computer-based exam, and if you are taking the B1 Preliminary or the B1 Preliminary for Schools.

Any candidate can take this exam, you don’t have an age requirement and you can take it as many times as you want. The only requirement is that you know the exam you are sitting for. When you register for the for School version of the exam, you have to keep in mind that the content of these exams is aimed at school-age candidates, so it may not be appropriate for older candidates.

The scales, grades and the worldwide acceptance for the certificate will not change.

Calendar E-mail Schedule

Results and Price

Before receiving your certificate, you will receive your statement of result showing the score according to the scales for each of the four skills and the overall exam, your grade (C, B, A), and the CEFR level for the overall exam.

However, the fastest way to know your results is by checking them online just by registering with Cambridge English Results Online.

Let’s remind the candidates that it depends on the type of exam they took: computer-based or paper-based exams take different scheduling to be graded since they are sent to Cambridge to be assessed. Paper-based exams will take from seven to nine weeks to be sent to your applying center. Computer-based exams will take less, from five to six weeks after your exam.

On the other hand, the price doesn’t vary much from the computer or paper-based exams; it only varies according to the center and the registering dates from £80 – £120.

In relation to the certificate, in front of it, there is the score on the Cambridge English Scale for each of the four skills, the overall score on the Cambridge English Scale, the grade, the level on the CEFR, level on the UK National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and your name, the number of your certificate, the date and the place of issue. At the back, there is an explanation about the exam. Here is a sample of the certificate.

Cambridge English B1 Preliminary certificate sample
Cambridge English B1 Preliminary certificate sample

The B1 Preliminary certificate is recognized around the world as proof of intermediate-level English skills for industrial, administrative, and service-based employment. It is also accepted by a wide range of educational institutions for study purposes.

Registering candidates for an exam

Exam entries must be made through an authorized Cambridge English examination center. Center staff have all the latest information about the exams, and can provide you with:

  • details of entry procedures;
  • copies of the exam regulations;
  • exam dates;
  • current fees;
  • more information about B1 Preliminary and other Cambridge English Qualifications.
People With Questions

I hope I have cleared some questions you had about the B1: Preliminary. If you have more questions, make sure to comment in the comment section.

Also, if you want to practice for the B1 Preliminary, check the books below:

The links above are to buy the book abroad, if you want to get the books in Brazil, the links are here: B1 Preliminary 1 – Students Book With Answers and Audio and B1 Preliminary for Schools 1 – Students Book.


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Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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*UPDATED in June 16th, 2021. Prices today may be more expensive.


  1. Hi! Thank you for all the information.

    What I still do no understand is how to convert a score that cannot get higher that 127 ( all four skills of the PET for schools combined).

    The minimum score to pass being 140.
    Could you explain thid to me? Thank you!

    • Hi! Thank you for the question.
      However, I can’t really help you with that.
      Cambridge doesn’t really tell us how they convert the scores.

      What we know is that we can get 32 points for Reading and Use of English, and 25 for listening.
      For Speaking, you have 2 marks: 5 points from the interlocutor for Global Achievement and 5 points from the assessor (for each of the 5 topics they assess).
      If you sum these points you get 82 points, which is not even close to 140.
      And there are the 2 writing tasks.

      What you can try and do is use percentages to help you 32 (reading) = 25% + 25 (listening) = 25% + 25 (speaking) = 25% + ? (writing) = 25%.
      Or: 32 = 160 points, 25 = 160 point, 25 = 160 points, ? = 160 points.

      But then again, Cambridge doesn’t really say how to convert.
      When I was studying for the exams, I always tried to get over 70% in the mock test. This was a good way to assure I’d pass the real deal.
      Sorry for not being able you help you even more.

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