Key information about the Foundation English Test structure

  • The test is delivered on a computer and takes about 80-90 minutes to complete 
  • The content of the test is a mixture of everyday English and English used in a workplace environment 
  • There is no grammar or vocabulary component 
  • It measures English proficiency from A1 to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) 
  • Practice tests are available, and special accommodations can be made for test takers with special needs 

A key element of this test is the length- we’ve purposefully cut the overall duration to make the test more manageable. However, we still test the four key language skills in enough depth to give an accurate result.

You can click on each component below to learn more and access practice tests – it is a good idea to take them so that you become familiar with what you need to do.

Please be aware that the practice tests do not provide results. When taking the Listening and Reading components of the practice tests, take note of your answers and check the answer keys after you have completed the test. When taking the Writing and Speaking components of the practice tests, please refer to the marking scales.

The four components are structured as follows: 


The listening part has three sections and is 28 minutes long. There are 17 recordings and 20 questions and each recording can be listened to twice. 

It consists of three parts where test takers listen to short messages, monologues or dialogues and answer questions.


The reading part of the test is 25 minutes long. It contains five sections, with texts of increasing level of difficulty. Test takers need to read texts of different lengths, fill in gaps, arrange sentences and assign headings to paragraphs.


The writing test is 27 minutes long and it contains four parts. Each task simulates a relevant real-life situation like answering to questions, describing personal and work context and giving instructions. All writing tasks are marked by experienced examiners.


The Speaking test is 7 minutes long and has four parts. For each part, test takers are given a maximum amount of time to speak, but they can choose to end the recording early by clicking on a stop button. Test takers are asked to respond to short questions about their personal and work context, compare photographs and answer questions on them. 

All speaking tasks are marked by experienced examiners.

Foundation English Test results 

Test results are available in a quick turnaround and are reported as follows:

  • A numerical score for each skill 
  • A CEFR level for each skill 
  • An overall CEFR level

All Foundation English Test reports include a unique QR code and link which provide digital results verification, confirming the authenticity of test results. This feature uses blockchain credentials with the highest level of security, verifying all test reports issued by the British Council.

For more information see our Foundation English Test Scoring document.  

External links