LingoYou Academy students often ask us what the difference is between Cambridge exams and IELTS exams. The world of language certifications, especially in English, can be very varied and distinct. This is due to the fact that the language certification market offers many different solutions. Understanding which language certification is most suitable can be complicated and convoluted. Choosing which certification to take is a decision that must be carefully considered with full knowledge of the facts.

Specifically, English language certifications are those for which the demand is always very high and constant over time. The English language is considered the lingua franca par excellence. Whether for study, work or bureaucratic reasons, English is the most used and requested language.

To ascertain your English language level, it is therefore advisable to obtain an official linguistic certification. The qualifications that are issued by linguistic certifications, as the word suggests, certify one’s level of mastery and knowledge of the English language.

The most popular English language certifications are IELTS and Cambridge English. In this article we will see what the main characteristics of each of the certifications and related exams are, and how they differ. The intent is to guide the reader to a comprehensive understanding of the certifications in question, so that he understands which is the most suitable.

Most students take Cambridge and IELTS exams, because these two are the most widespread certifications internationally. Obtaining a certification of this caliber means having greater work and study opportunities. In fact, many academic institutes and schools abroad often require possession of a language certification as a prerequisite for access to their study and training programs. Many companies similarly allow future employees to pursue a professional career abroad, provided they have a language certification.

The factors that influence the choice of one certification over the other are the reasons why you want to take a language exam, based on your needs and requirements.

The IELTS exam, for example, was created specifically for those who wish to move abroad for study or work. In any case, every reality, every country and every institution has specific measures and rules. It is a good idea to find out what the requirements are to make the right choice. Instead, the Cambridge exam is generally preferred by those who simply want to improve their English language level for personal interest and acquire greater competitive value in the job market.

Cambridge exam VS IELTS exam

  • Cambridge exam

The Cambridge English certification is administered by a body within Cambridge University, Cambridge Assessment English. Here too, the reasons that push candidates to take a Cambridge exam are varied: they can be work, study or transfer reasons.

For Cambridge certification, there are different levels, each of which corresponds to the relevant exam. The standard levels specifically are: A1(YLE), A2(KET), B1(PET), B2(FCE), C1 (CAE), C2 (CPE). In addition to these 6, there are also other levels, including the so-called “for Schools” and Business levels.

For Cambridge exams, the structure is made up of 4 different tests: Reading and Grammar, Listing, Writing, Speaking.

  • We are in IELTS

The acronym IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. It is one of the most well-known and widespread certification exams in the world, valid internationally. It certifies the level of mastery and competence of the English language. There are more than 10,000 organizations, bodies and companies that officially accept it.

Technically the IELTS certification is valid for 2 years, after which it can be renewed.

There are two types of IELTS certification exams: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both have an internal division made up of 4 parts: Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking.

What is the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training? While the IELTS Academic exam is mainly aimed at candidates who intend to continue an academic or university course abroad or obtain professional recognition, the IELTS General Training exam is a general test. It can therefore be useful if you wish to move abroad or simply to be prepared if everyday life or work needs require a certain linguistic ability.

But how do these two certifications differ?

The differences between Cambridge exams and IELTS exams

Let’s see below what differences emerge in the comparison between Cambridge and IELTS

  • First of all, the IELTS, unlike the Cambridge exam, is a single test. Regardless of your level, the test is the same for everyone. There are no different tests for different levels. Through this system, an identical test is given to everyone, and the scores obtained will decide which level of English you belong to. The degree of competence for Cambridge, however, is already pre-established by the level you intend to take. Each Cambridge certification exam tests a specific level.
  • Based on point number 1, while for the Cambridge exam failing the test is an admissible condition, for the IELTS certification there is no margin of failure. If the preparation is not very high, you will simply obtain a low level. The Cambridge system is a level based system: based on the level you intend to test, you will be subjected to a specific exam.
  • Change the evaluation system. This is probably the most obvious difference. Those who take the IELTS exam can obtain a score ranging from 1 to 9. The final grade is calculated by averaging the scores obtained from the 4 tests. Each grade corresponds to one of the six levels of the international CEFR framework. Those who take the Cambridge exam, on the other hand, know that they are dealing with a specific level. To pass the exam you must obtain a minimum score.
  • A point that marks the difference between the Cambridge exam and IELTS coincides with the validity factor. Cambridge certifications do not have an expiry date, but IELTS certifications do.


Both linguistic certifications are recognized internationally, according to the CEFR reference framework (European Framework of Reference for Language Knowledge). Both the Cambridge exam and the IELTS exam are made up of 4 different tests.

LingoYou Academy and preparation for language certifications

If after reading this information you have decided which exam is right for you, you can start studying and preparing!

LingoYou Academy offers numerous solutions for preparing language certifications, for ten very different languages. Training with languages ​​is a sine qua non to be able to pass a language exam. It is important to practice, focus on the contents of the exam, and obtain suitable materials. We’ll help you with this! Our native speaking teachers are all qualified, well prepared to accompany and support you in this preparation and training journey!

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