Choosing between the IELTS and Cambridge Courses


Students at BBELS often ask us to describe the difference between the IELTS and Cambridge Mainsuite exams (FCE, CAE, CPE).

Choosing between the different courses is important, especially if your objective is related to future academic studies, sponsorhip or national citizenship.

Following is a guide to help you select the course which will provide you with the best outcome.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System):

Why is IELTS useful:

IELTS is important for students who are interested in entering TAFE colleges and Australian and international universities. IELTS is essential for students who wish to immigrate to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. If you want to work in a professional job in Australia, the USA or British commonwealth countries it is also neccessary to do the IELTS exam.

It is generally advised that academic institutions do not accept an IELTS report that is more than 2 years old.

What is the structure of the exam:

Students can elect to sit either the General IELTS exam or the Academic IELTS exam. The General IELTS exam is useful for immigration purposes and to enter non-academic training contexts. The Academic IELTS exam is suited for students who wish to enter universities and professions that use English in the workplace.

The IELTS exam tests 4 skills: speaking, listening, reading, writing. The Academic IELTS exam tests students’ reading and writing ability at a higher level than the General IELTS exam.

Speaking: is divided into General Topics, One Prepared Topic and a Discussion with the examiner.

Listening: consists of a variety of question styles. Using correct spelling is important.

Reading: consists of 3 passages. Question styles include include multiple choice, writing words, matching and summarizing.

Writing: Students will be expected to write papers which Present and Support an Opinion; Discuss Problems/Solutions; balance Two Arguments

Who can study the IELTS preparation course:

The course is open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate-Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the course runs for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course for a minimum of 8 weeks. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.

The IELTS test can be taken at the Gold Coast, approximately one hour from Byron Bay.

Cambridge 3
Graduation Day for one of our First Certificate in English classes.

The Cambridge Mainsuite Exams:

Why are the Cambridge exams useful:

The Cambridge exams are useful for work and acdemic purposes.

A pass in the First Certificate in English exam (equivalent to level B2 of the CEFR) indicates an everyday written and spoken ability in English. This is recognised by many international companies and educational institutions.

The Certificate in Advanced English is recognised by over 10,000 employers and colleges worldwide. Furthermore it is approved by the Australian government for student visas.

The Certificate of Proficiency in English is recognised by prestigious universities around the world as evidence of a high level in academic and social English.

The CAE and CPE exams are extremely difficult to pass without studying in a preparation course beforehand.

What is the structure of the exams:
There are 5 sections to the tests: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening, and Speaking.

Reading: There are long and short passages with different types of questions. Texts range from newspapers, fiction stories, interviews, advertisements and other media.

Writing: Two different types of writing are required. Possible formats include letters, reports, reviews, essays or short stories.

Use of English: Tasks that show grammar and vocabulary control are tested in this section.

Listening: Questions are asked about a range of recordings including news programs, presentations and conversations.

Speaking: This involves direct answers to an examiner, descriptions of pictures, pair work.

There is no expiry limit to the Cambridge reports.

Who can study the Cambridge preparation course:

The Cambridge courses are open to full-time students in the Upper-intermediate to Advanced levels. Depending on the time of year the courses run for 10-12 weeks. It is a requirement that students commence in the first week of the course. Students must also sit a pre-entry test before commencing the course.

Students are either tested here at BBELS or at the Gold Coast (approximately one hour from Byron Bay).

Our IELTS and Cambridge students always report that their vocabulary and grammatical accuracy improves dramatically throughout the preparation courses. The skills learned in the courses make our students much more employable both here in Australia and in their home country. Students also comment about the sincere friendships that are formed during the 3 months spent studying together.

The next Cambridge start date is the 5th of January, 2015.

If you would like to know more about our testing courses please contact today!





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The BBELS Team!!!

Siobhan's BBELS crew

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Manny the man at Cafe Oska

1. How long have you had Café Oska?
It is about 5 month now. We took over Café Oska at the End of February.

2. What makes Café Oska so special?
It is the global feel. It does not matter where you come from, you are always welcome. That is why we have people coming from all around the world. It is also a cool place because it is tucked away from the main street, and the lack of cars makes it unique in Byron.

3. Are there any specials for BBELS students?
Yes of course! Every day students are offered a lunch for $7, 5 instead of the normal price of $10. We also have a very affordable breakfast roll, specially made for students.

4. Do you have special events?
Sometimes we organise music events and students will usually have a special deal for these. We also do special student-nights with music or a theme. These nights are open for request! Maybe your next birthday?

5. Is there one thing you would recommend everyone try at Café Oska?
The dish that is most popular among our weekend customers is the fish curry. It is yummy! Also we have vegetarian small dishes very typical for Africa. Ask for Akara or Pantain, and you will taste something delicious.

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BBELS Student Emiliano

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Hi, my name is Emiliano, I come from Italy and I came to BBELS for the first time in 2012 enjoying a General English course. As long as I was doing high school in Italy, I couldn’t stay longer than one month, but I enjoyed it so much, the time spent at BBELS, that I had to come back.
So, once I finished high school I came back with a working holiday Visa, enjoying the IELTS class for 8 weeks.
Something that I really love at BBELS are the activities: there is always something interesting to do and student parties are by far my favourite activities as long as everybody get the chance to play live music.
As soon as I finished my classes, the Job Club helped me to find a job, first in a Café and then in a food processing plant.
I also volunteered helping disabled people sailing in Lennox Head. These work experiences gave me the chance to earn enough money to buy a car and be completely independent from my parents.
Afterwards I decided to start Griffith University on the Gold Coast the next year.

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Welcome to our group of lovely Russians.

This is our first group of teen students from Russia. They have come to BBELS to learn English and enjoy afternoon activities in Byron Bay: Aloyna, Anna (group leader), Sasha and Valero. We are sure they will have a lovely time at BBELS.

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Outkast at BBELS

10489852_836645036348083_7804238882153577700_nWe WISH he was a new staff member. But Andre 3000 just came in to say hello to his old mate Manny at Cafe Oska!!!

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Welcome Kansai International High School

We would like to welcome Kansai International High School back to Byron Bay.

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