The Examination for the Certificate of Competency in English (ECCE) is a 4-skill test of English competency at the high-intermediate (B2 CEFR) level. It is a secure exam administered by Authorized Test Centers worldwide. The ECCE is used for educational and professional purposes by educational institutions, government agencies, and businesses. An ECCE certificate is valid for life.

ECCE Test Format
Test Scoring and Results
More Information

Test Takers

Secondary – adult

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Level

High intermediate (CEFR B2)

Skills Tested

Listening, reading, writing, speaking

Test Duration

2 hours 45 minutes

Format

Paper

Test Dates

May and December

ECCE Test Format

The test is divided into four sections:

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

The listening, reading, and writing sections are administered together in a single sitting in the order listed. Listening and reading questions are multiple choice and have one correct answer. Writing requires a response to one of two options. The speaking section is given separately and may be scheduled either before or after the written test.

Listening

Note taking is allowed during the listening section but not required. The audio for each question is played once.

The ECCE Listening Section reflects language used in real-life situations. The content covers a variety of listening skills:

  • Global skills that test comprehension of the entire passage, such as asking for the main idea
  • Local skills that test a part of the passage, such as a detail mentioned by the speaker/author
  • Inferential skills that test comprehension of something that is not explicitly stated in the text, such as drawing a conclusion

The listening section is scored automatically by computer.

Part 1

Short conversations are each followed by a question. The three answer choices are shown as pictures.
30 questions

Part 2

Single speakers deliver short talks on different topics, followed by four to six questions each.
20 questions

Total questions: 50

Time: 30 minutes

Reading

The ECCE Reading Section includes grammar, vocabulary, and reading parts.

ECCE grammar and vocabulary items reflect language used in real-life situations. Grammar items consist of one or two sentences containing a blank. From four words or phrases, test takers select the one that is grammatically correct. Vocabulary items consist of one sentence containing a blank. From four words or phrases, test takers select the one that has the correct meaning, collocation, or syntactic rules for the sentence.

The ECCE Reading Section covers a variety of global, local, and inferential reading skills. Part 1 features two informational reading passages of academic or general interest, each followed by multiple-choice questions. Part 2 includes four thematically-related passages based on texts found in real life, such as newspapers, advertisements, emails, letters, and magazine articles. Each set in Part 2 is followed by ten multiple-choice questions.

Grammar

An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of four words or phrases to complete it.
35 questions

Vocabulary

An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of four words or phrases to complete it.
35 questions

Total questions: 100

Time: 90 minutes

Reading Part 1

Two reading passages are each followed by five comprehension questions.
10 questions (2 sets)

Reading Part 2

Two sets of four thematically related passages are each followed by ten questions.
20 questions (2 sets)

Writing

The ECCE Writing Section offers test takers a choice of writing a letter or essay to express their opinion about a situation or issue introduced in a short newspaper article. There is no word limit, but test takers are advised to write about one page.

The test taker reads a short excerpt from a newspaper article and then writes a letter or essay giving an opinion about a situation or issue.

1 task

30 minutes

Speaking

The ECCE Speaking Section lets test takers demonstrate their ability to ask and answer questions, provide suggestions or recommendations, present and justify a decision, and discuss a topic in detail. The four stages of the test build on each other; as the test progresses, the linguistic and interactional demands become increasingly more challenging.

The test taker participates in a structured, multistage task with one examiner.

4 stages

15 minutes

Test Scoring and Results

Test Scoring, Score Report, and Certificate

  • Michigan Language Assessment uses scoring models to ensure that test scores are comparable across different administrations and fair to all test takers.
  • The listening and reading sections of the ECCE are scored by computer at Michigan Language Assessment. Each correct answer adds to the final score for its section; points are not deducted for wrong answers.
  • The speaking and writing sections are rated using scoring criteria established by Michigan Language Assessment.  (See the ECCE Speaking and ECCE Writing rating scales.) The speaking section is conducted and assessed by a certified speaking examiner, and the writing section is assessed by at least two certified raters.
  • A scaled score, ranging from 0 to 1,000, is reported for each section of the test and also averaged to produce an overall score. ECCE test takers who achieve an overall score of 650 or higher are awarded a Certificate of Competency, and those who achieve an overall score of 840 or higher are awarded a Certificate of Competency with Honors.

Interpreting and Using Test Results

The ECCE is aimed at the high intermediate (B2) level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Language users at this competency level can:

  • Understand the main ideas of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization
  • Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party
  • Produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options (Council of Europe, 2001: 24)

The ECCE estimates the test taker’s true competency by approximating the kinds of tasks that may be encountered in real life. Temporary factors, such as fatigue, anxiety, or illness, may affect exam results.

More Information

ECCE Preparation Materials

Review the ECCE example item booklet.

ECCE Speaking Test Video

Watch an ECCE Speaking Test.

Revised ECCE in May 2021

Learn more about the revision and important dates.