The 5 W’s of the BULATS

Who takes the BULATS exam?

The BULATS exam, as the name implies, is an English assessment test designed with working professionals in mind. Developed by Cambridge ESOL of the United Kingdom, the Alliance Française of France, Goethe- Institut of Germany, and the Universidad de Salamanca of Spain, its results are primarily used by companies and organizations to inform their hiring decisions. Multinational in origin, it is offered in all four of the languages corresponding to its creators: English, French, German and Spanish. For our purposes, the focus will be on the English exam although the structure of the exam is almost identical for all four languages.

Although developed in the UK, the BULATS test emphasizes the wide range of accents and vocabularies found in the English-speaking world. In fact, the exam is designed with a mixture of source materials from the world’s key English-speaking regions. For example, in the Listening mode of the exam, the target breakdown is 60% UK-based accents, 35% North American-based accents, 5% Australasian-based accents. While this may seem biased towards speakers of “the Queen’s English” the exam nevertheless is intended to be accent and spelling neutral, meaning that all accents are accepted fully and no one is penalized for using accent. In the Writing test, regional variations are accepted if they are used consistently.

Please note that after June 30 2014, Certificated BULATS Online will no longer be available for UK visa application purposes. However, results from Certificated BULATS tests taken on or before 30 June 2014 will continue to be valid for UK visa purposes.

You can find a range of Cambridge English exams approved by the UK Home Office at Cambridge English exams for UK visas and immigration .

Why should you take the BULATS exam?

The BULATS test is used to assess the language abilities of potential employees who may need to use English in their work and also by a growing number of colleges and universities in courses where foreign language ability is crucial. After all, the BULATS test is designed to simulate real-life situations that are relevant to everyday situations and your score is the most reliable way to provide meaningful feedback about an your specific strengths and weaknesses. Of course, if you’re planning to take the BULATS exams you should make sure that your organization is part of the growing number that recognize it! You can do this by simply checking their list of requirements or contacting them directly.

What exactly is the BULATS test like and what can I expect to see on it?

The BULATS exam is actually made up of four distinct parts and customization is the key. Some organizations may place their emphasis on only one test while others may use all four tests. If you are taking the exam for a potential school or employer, it is important to see which aspects of the exam you will need to complete.

  1. The Standard Test is a multiple-choice paper-based exam that assesses test takers’ listening and reading skills as well as their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. It consists of a 50 minute listening section and a 60 minute reading and language knowledge which, combined, last 110 minutes. The Standard test by itself does not test writing or speaking.
  2. The BULATS Writing Test is offered both online and at testing centers but in either case the test measures applicants’ writing skills as well as their knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary. The Writing Test is divided into two parts, the first involving short (50-60 word) business composition and the second a longer (180-200 word) essay.
  3. The BULATS Speaking Test is offered both as an online exam and as a face-to-face assessment. In either case, the results of the 15 minute exam are recorded and assessed by more than one examiner.

Where and When can you take the BULATS exam?

The BULATS Reading and Listening Test can be taken on-demand at any computer with an internet connection. All other aspects of the exam must be scheduled through a recognized BULATS agent who administered the exams in predetermined regions. You can contact Agents to get information about BULATS including prices and availability of tests which may vary by location.

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