Organization Profile: Cambridge Assessment

The words Cambridge Assessment are almost synonymous with Business English Certificates and for good reason: the not-profit organization has been part the effort to offer high-quality English language certification for nearly a century. Originally founded in 1858 as a non-teaching department of the world-famous university that bears its name, Cambridge Assessment grew out of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) but it today better known by its brand name, Cambridge Assessment.

Then established to administer general educational standards examinations for individuals or groups who were not members of the University but interested in its rigorous certification process, Cambridge Assessment offered its first English as a Second Language exam – Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) – in 1913. In century since, Cambridge Assessment’s ESOL division (Cambridge ESOL) has grown by leaps and bounds. Its second assessment, Cambridge English: First (FCE) was released in 1939 and its third, Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET), in 1980.

As European integration intensified, the need for a common framework with which to measure English ability likewise grew and by the late 1980s Cambridge ESOL was involved in the establishment of what would become the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. These revised level descriptions called for a revision of the PET by the close of the decade and gave impetus to the establishment of a variety of “stepping stone” English proficiency exams by the early 1990s. These exams – the BEC, KET, PET, FCE, CAE and CPE –  offer general English, academic English, and business English certificates that are now taken by more than a million English learners in more than 135 countries every year. Cambridge ESOL also offers training for Teachers of English as a Second Language through its renowned CELTA certification program.

Today, Cambridge Assessment exams are available at schools and testing centers around the world and in some instances can even be taken remotely, continuing and expanding on the mission it established nearly a century ago.