|EE-023a| YLE – PRE-A1: Starters – an overview

Hello ExamSeekers,

Today I am going to talk about the Pre A1 Starters. It’s been a while since I mentioned something about the Young Learners Exams, so if you want an overview of all of the three YLE Exams, take a look at the text linked here. If you have already read it, you can go on and read this one. Today I’m talking specifically about the Pre-A1 Starters.

I know that people who read this blog are usually adults looking for some tips on exams or certifications for themselves. Still, every now and then, parents look for some information on these exams for their children. Sometimes, teachers are the ones looking for information about this topic because they are planning to assess their own students or prepare their students for the Cambridge exams. Therefore, in the following days, I will start mentioning the YLE Exams, giving samples and tips, and general information about these exams.

Cover for YLE - Pre A1 Starter

The Pre A1 Starters, formerly known as Cambridge English: Starters (YLE Starters), is one of the Cambridge English Qualifications. It is the start of a child’s language learning journey and the first of a series of three.

People often question if putting a child through a series of exams in another language is mentally healthy or worthy. I actually consider that this is a great way to prepare children for the world! Why? Well, when children are at school, they do have to take tests and study for exams. Most children become teens and young adults who are afraid of examination in general and tend to freeze when facing a test in any subject. Actually, there is an excellent article provided by Teens Health (Nemorous) that talk about Test Anxiety. According to them

Test anxiety is actually a type of performance anxiety — a feeling someone might have in a situation where performance really counts or when the pressure’s on to do well. For example, a person might have performance anxiety just before trying out for the school play, singing a solo on stage, getting into position at the pitcher’s mound, stepping onto the platform in a diving meet, or going into an important interview.

Therefore, preparing kids to take a test will help them avoid this kind of anxiety from a very early age, and they will eventually become adults who can deal better with situations as such. The Cambridge tests for kids introduce children to everyday written and spoken English around familiar topics. They are fun, colorful, interactive, and activity-based. It’s a nice way to get children interested in taking these exams and don’t feel threatened by them or feel that they are taking an exam at all.

These exams focus on the skills needed to communicate effectively in English through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They are paper-based, and they take 45 minutes overall.

  • Listening: It takes about 20 minutes. It’s divided into 4 parts (20 questions overall):
    • Matching;
    • Note-taking;
    • 3-option multiple choice;
    • Coloring.
  • Reading and Writing: It takes about 20 minutes. It’s divided into 5 parts (25 questions overall):
    • True/false vocabulary recognition;
    • Reading comprehension based on a picture;
    • Spelling;
    • Multiple-choice cloze;
    • Answer questions based on a picture story.
  • Speaking: It takes about 3-5 minutes. It’s divided into 4 parts. In the room stays only the child and the assessor.
    • Scene picture and object cards;
    • Scene picture;
    • Object card;
    • Personal question.

Children take all their test papers within five days. The Listening paper is always taken before the Reading and Writing paper. By the way, this is the 2018 version (it’s the newest so far), and here is a list of what you will find in each of the papers:

Each of the exams can provide the child up to 5 shields. By the way, there is no pass or fail at this level. All children receive a certificate showing the number of shields they have received (out of a maximum of five) for each part of the test. A result of one shield means a child can improve a lot in that skill. Five shields mean that a child did very well in that skill and answered most questions correctly.

Also, the back of the certificate shows how the results align with the CEFR. If a child has achieved 4 or 5 shields in each skill, they are ready to start preparing for the next Cambridge English exam – A1 Movers.

The children will also receive a Statement of Results, which includes the number of shields they have received for each part of the test, information on their strengths, areas for improvement, and ideas on how to improve. This Statement of Result is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Russian, Turkish, and Vietnamese. Take a look at a sample of the Statement of Result in Spanish:

Schools and parents will be able to access learner results directly through their preparation center and Cambridge Online Results Service as soon as they’re available.

Well, I guess this is it for now. A Pre A1 Starters certificate is a great way to celebrate children’s achievement, build their confidence and reward their own individual ability. So if you are a parent and are still deciding if you will give your children this opportunity, I do recommend it! Here is a booklet with some info to help you prepare your children at home. Next time I’ll bring some information on A1 Movers and A2 Flyers, and tips to prepare and take the YLE Exams.

I hope that this overview was useful. Soon there will be more updated content for you!


That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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