Cambridge PET Exam

The Cambridge PET exam is an important qualification in the basics of the English language. The B1 level certificate is also called the Cambridge Preliminary and shows you have a good level of practical English language skills for everyday use. Below you will find information about the Cambridge PET exam format and resources to help you with preparation for the test. Additionally, there is a link to a video of a speaking exam in progress. We recommend watching this video before you sit for the exam. 

Cambridge PET exam logo

General information about the Cambridge PET Exam

The Cambridge PET exam is also known as Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET). If you study for the test, you are preparing basic language skills that are useful for everyday use.  A PET certificate shows your employer or school that you can:

  • read articles and textbooks in simple English
  • write emails about common topics
  • take notes in a meeting
  • be aware of opinion and mood in written texts and spoken language.

According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), the Cambridge PET exam is level B1. There are three papers in the Cambridge PET exam: Reading Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Reading and Writing in the Cambridge PET Exam

Cambridge PET certificates

The reading and writing paper of the PET takes one hour and a half to complete.

Reading 

The reading section is worth 50% of the marks, there are 5 parts and 35 questions in total. The purpose of the reading section is to show you can understand the principle ideas as you read. You will need to use vocabulary and grammar structures correctly as you answer questions about signs, newspapers, and magazines.

  1. Reading Part One: Multiple Choice.
    There are 5 short texts with 5 corresponding questions. The corresponding questions have got 3 possible answers to choose from, but only one is correct. There is one mark per correct answer.
  2. Reading Part Two: Matching.
    You will read a series of 8 short texts and answer 5 questions. You have to decide which of the texts corresponds to the questions. There is one mark per correct answer.
  3. Reading Part Three: True/False.
    After reading a text you must decide if the 10 question statements are true or false. Each question is worth one point.
  4. Reading Part Four: Multiple Choice:
    You will read one text and answer 5 multiple choice questions, each worth one mark. This part often tests your ability to understand the emotions and opinions.
  5. Reading Part Five: Multiple Choice Cloze:
    Part five consists of 1 text in which there are some missing words or phrases (gaps). There are 10 multiple choice questions where you choose the correct word to fill the gap. As with the other parts, you are awarded 1 mark per correct answer. This part tests vocabulary and grammar.

Writing

Regarding the writing section of this paper, it consists of 3 parts and 7 questions in total.

  1. Writing Part One: Sentence Transformation. There are 5 questions consisting of a pair of sentences. The second sentence has some words missing and you have to complete it so that it means the same as in the first sentence. There is one mark available per question. 
  2. Writing Part Two: Guided Writing. You have instructions in a short message or email. You must follow these instructions and write about each of the three things as indicated. There are 5 possible marks for part 2 of the Cambridge PET exam.
  3. Writing Part Three: Extended Writing. You choose either to write a story or a letter to a friend. You must write approximately 100 words and there are 15 marks available.

Cambridge PET Exam Listening Paper

B1 Preliminary

Paper two: Listening consists of 4 parts, 36 questions in total. You will have 30 minutes to complete the test and 6 extra minutes to pass your answers to the answer sheet. This paper is worth 20% of the total marks for the exam. Successfully completing the exam shows that you can understand different types of listening materials such as announcements or day to day discussions.

  1. Listening Part One: Multiple choice. You hear 7 short passages with 7 written or pictorial multiple choice questions. There is one mark per question.
  2. Listening Part Two: Multiple choice. You hear one long listening exercise and multiple choice questions. There are 3 possible answers and one mark for each correct answer.
  3. Listening Part Three: Gapfill questions. You will hear a long monologue and must answer 6 questions by filling in the blanks in the written text. Again you will be awarded 1 mark per correct answer.
  4. Listening Part Four: True/False. In this exercise, you will hear a dialogue and must decide if the 6 statements are true or false.

The Speaking Section of the Cambridge PET Exam 

Cambridge PET Speaking Exam video

Candidates usually take the test in pairs or sometimes groups of three. This paper lasts about 10 – 12 minutes and is worth 25% of the overall marks. There are four parts to the PET speaking exam, you can see a video by clicking on the image to the left ( or above on mobile).

Passing the PET speaking exam requires a good level spoken English because you have to ask and answer questions and talk, for example, about your likes and dislikes. The speaking test is always face-to-face in an official examination centre near you. There will be two examiners in order to standardise your results. Not only is your speaking evaluated on grammar and vocabulary, interactive communication, discourse management, but also pronunciation and global achievement. 

  1. Speaking Part 1: The examiner asks you questions about yourself and you must give your opinions.
  2. Speaking Part 2: You have a page with pictures on it as a guide for talking with the other candidate.
  3. Speaking Part 3: Each candidate describes a different photo of the same topic.
  4. Speaking part 4: A discussion with your partner about a certain topic. you must ask questions and exchange opinions. 

Download Cambridge PET Exam sample papers

At Break Into English, we believe it is fundamental that you are prepared and ready for your exam. It is therefore highly recommended that you review the sample papers on the official Cambridge website before the exam. 

We can help you prepare for the Cambridge PET Exam

Specialist trainers at Break into English are here to guide you to success in the Cambridge PET exam. Our proven method and unique teaching style mean you can rest assured that you will feel more than prepared on the big day, having thoroughly covered each of the 4 sections of the exam. Additionally, at Break into English, don’t just prepare you for the exam, as the important date gets closer, we increase the difficulty of the exercises we set you, so you will actually feel like your exam was easy compared to our classes! Sign up for a free 30-minute lesson to see how our Skype Cambridge PET exam preparation course can work for you. If you get chance, you should check out our blog for more information on how to prepare for the Cambridge PET Exam.