Pearson exam

A Guide to the Pearson Assessment Suite

Are you stuck on which English exam or test to offer your students? You’re not alone – there are lots of different assessments to choose from and it’s often hard to see how they are different and why you should select one over another.

We’re bringing it all together in this handy guide to help you decide which English language assessment is right for your students.

Find out more about the following exams below:

Exams for Young Learners

Language exams can be quite daunting for your younger students, especially if they’re taking them for the first time. That’s why we think it’s important to ensure what they have to do is interesting, fun, and motivating.

English Benchmark and PTE Young Learners exams are designed with this in mind, so let’s take a closer look at them both.

English Benchmark

Who is the exam for?

This assessment is aimed at young learners who are aged between 6 and 13, and who have Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels between pre-A1 and B1.

English Benchmark is a great tool for teachers who want a simple way to assess the English abilities of their classes at any stage of the year.

With individual reports produced quickly after completion, parents and teachers can quickly see where their children are on the Global Scale of English (GSE) or CEFR. This can help assess when they are ready for the next step, such as the PTE Young Learners exam.

What does it test?

English Benchmark aims to assess a student’s competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing (with the exception of Level 1, which does not test writing). It covers five different ability levels, with three tests per level.

What’s more, all assessment is done through the use of stress-free activities on tablets.

For more information, see our English Benchmark home page, our Introducing English Benchmark blog post, or watch the video below:

PTE Young Learners

Who is the exam for?

This test is for young learners who are again aged between 6 and 13, and whose CEFR levels range from pre-A1 to A2. It is available in over 40 territories worldwide, and at different times of the year.

Upon completion, the learners will be able to take pride in receiving an official certificate from EdExcel, the UK’s largest governing body for academic qualification.

What does it test?

PTE Young Learners focuses again on integrating all four of the main skills and these are divided over four ability levelsFirstwords (Level 1), Springboard (Level 2), Quickmarch (Level 3), Breakthrough (Level 4). It focuses on completing realistic communicative tasks throughout, which will give them a great first experience of official assessment.

Spread out over two separate written and speaking parts, the learners are encouraged to talk effectively about their own lives, rather than simply reciting grammatical or vocabulary structures. This includes activities such as board games and picture matching.

More information about PTE Young Learners can be found on our PTE Young Learners home page, Introduction to PTE Young Learners blog post, or on our test resource page.

Exams for Adults

There are many reasons why your students may need to take a language exam. Some adults need proof of their level for work or university, companies may wish to analyze the abilities of their staff, or individuals may simply be keen on pursuing a personal goal.

Whatever the motivation, choosing the correct assessment is crucial.

By checking out the summaries below of all our assessment options for adults, you’ll be sure you’ve picked the best one.

PTE General

Who is the exam for?

Pearson Test of English General is designed for adults of any level who use English in a variety of daily activities, such as with work, at university or socially.

As a result, we’ve ensured that the content of PTE General is suitable for learners in any part of the world, age-appropriate, and available at various times of the year.

With its widely recognized OFQUAL accreditation, PTE General is great for those who need a general certificate in English for their work or higher-educational institutions.

What does it test?

Throughout the six-level options, ranging from A1 (beginner) to Level 5 C2 (proficiency), authentic materials regarding specific themes are frequently used to assess all four key skills.

Learners will complete tasks related to note completion, letter or email writing, and speaking role plays, along with defending a point of view at higher levels. This reinforces the PTE General as an exam which best suits those who complete everyday tasks in English.

The PTE General home page and this blog post ‘An introduction to the Pearson Test of English General’ will offer you more information about the exam. You can also take a look at the resources section to see how the exam fits into your current class content, or watch the video below:

PTE Academic

Who is the exam for?

If your learners are looking for a reliable, unbiased proof of their English level for immigration or studying abroad, then the Pearson Test of English Academic is perfect for them.

Widely recognized by governments for their visa application processes, and multiple leading universities such as Harvard University in the USA, PTE Academic can be found in over 50 locations globally.

In addition, the exam is 100% computer-based, can be accessed on over 360 days of the year, and booked only 24 hours in advance. This really suits students and professionals who require a little more flexibility and benefit from the results being available after only 5 business days.

What does it test?

PTE Academic uses the latest Artificial Intelligence software.  This means students can be confident that they’re given an unbiased grade for the four main skills they are tested on.

The initial speaking and writing sections assess your learner’s abilities to produce responses to questions and scenarios using academic English.

This theme continues through the subsequent listening and reading sections, where candidates complete a variety of tasks such as interpreting information, reordering paragraphs, and summarizing a spoken text.

To find out more about PTE Academic visit our home page, this blog post: Want to study or work abroad? PTE Academic can help you get there. Or take a look at some sample PTE Academic resources here.

Versant Tests

Who is the exam for?

Pearson’s Versant Tests are designed for businesses that require a simple, quick and reliable way to assess the English competence of their current or prospective staff.

Furthermore, they suit educational institutes that require an efficient way to evaluate the English capabilities of their students before, during, or after their courses.

What does it test?

The suite of four different English exams is tailored to suit different requirements, depending on the needs of the client. Ranging from 17 to 50 minutes in length, the skills which are tested will vary from a specific written (Versant Writing Test) or spoken focus (Versant English Test), to the Versant English Placement Test and Versant 4 Skills Essential which integrate all four skills. Speaking tests are also available in additional languages including Arabic, Dutch, French, and Spanish for dual language programs.

Regardless of the test your learners choose, all Versant Tests are fully automated, and available online or offline throughout the year. This means that you’ll be able to access the results immediately afterwards.

For more information about the Versant Test suite, take a look at the Versant Test home page, or visit our introductory blog post: Everything you need to know about the Versant tests.


Who is the exam for?

If you work for an educational institute and need a way to efficiently deliver, mark and administer a placement test for new students, then Placement is perfect for you.

Our adaptive software means this single test will generate questions depending on your student’s previous responses, and therefore is suitable for beginner to advanced level learners.

This results in a single, fair and unique testing procedure, along with reliable GSE and CEFR grades upon completion.

What does it test?

Placement is a 35-minute, computer-based assessment that tests the students on a wide range of topics, including the four skills, plus vocabulary and grammatical knowledge.

Using real-life English content reflecting life in the classroom, students complete tasks such as choosing the correct word or phrase, error correction, dictation completion and describing visuals.

For more information about Placement, take a look at our How It Works page, or request a demo for your school.


Who is the exam for?

Once your students have taken the Placement test (see above) and are starting their classes, our Progress assessment is a great way to set a benchmark for their learning, and continually assess them throughout their course.

Designed for adults using real-life questions, scores are given automatically for each skill tested. What’s more, this test offers advice about where to focus your student’s learning.

Progress is therefore great for students who feel they may be plateauing and need to focus beyond their textbook content.

What does it test?

This assessment package comes with three tests, one for the beginning, middle and end of each of your courses. The content uses an algorithm which adapts to each user, ensuring each test is appropriate for their level.

Progress takes about 60 minutes online (either in-centre or at home) and measures students on their speaking, reading, writing, listening, grammar and vocabulary. The questions include gap fills, dictations, and essay writing, all based on scenarios students may face outside the classroom.

The Progress home page offers more information on the product, plus this Progress booklet gives further details about its questions, scoring, and validation.

Do you have any questions about any of our assessments? Let us know in the comments.

In this article