Path exams assess the ability to receive information (reading and listening skills) and provide information (speaking and writing skills). Furthermore, we look for evidence of active communication skills. In order to achieve this, our examinations offer more opportunities for free expression of ideas. The relevance and clarity of those ideas may be enough to achieve good marks. Appropriate vocabulary with correct spelling, or clear pronunciation when speaking, is however important.
We do not want students to have to attend lengthy exam preparation classes in order to learn ‘exam techniques’ or a certain exam format. We are interested in communication skills, so all that is really needed is to attend regular classes.
These are the broad areas of life in which we function as human beings, and can be categorised as follows:
- The personal domain concerns us as individuals. It is about our family and friends, hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes.
- The public domain is where we interact as members of the public, with organisations or other people who are not as close as family and friends. An example is going on holiday, where we interact with representatives of airlines, hotels, restaurants and local people.
- The educational domain is where we are a part of organised learning, for example at university. It concerns the need for skills such as essay and report writing, as well as abilities to use pragmatic and discursive language.
- The occupational domain concerns the workplace, and the learner as an employee or member of a profession. It concerns the vocabulary and communicative skills related to our jobs.
There are various competences which inform our ability to use the language:
Our examinations are divided into modules, which may be taken separately or altogether:
Reading and writing module
Students may decide not to take all modules because they do not need to. If a job position involves, for example, sending and receiving emails in English, candidates may simply be required proof of their writing skills. The opposite will happen, for instance, for the position of call centre assistant, where proof of speaking skills will be more relevant.
All people, as language users, have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the different language skills. A student may be stronger at writing than at speaking. Therefore, they may choose a different level for each skill. E.g. A candidate may decide to take a reading and writing module at B2 Competency level, and speaking module at B1 Progress level.
An overall mark of all modules does not show the student’s genuine level. If a candidate obtained, for example, 69% in listening, 66% in writing, and 96% in speaking, the overall mark would be 77%, despite the fact that their speaking skills are higher.
The diagram below shows all of our exam levels, which have been carefully designed to assess candidates progressively.