What is a CEFR level?

The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is the most widely recognised international system for describing language proficiency. Although it was initially developed for European languages, it is now being adapted for language benchmarking in other countries, including Canada, Thailand and China. It can be readily cross-referenced with other systems for describing proficiency, including IELTS, TOEFL and ALTE levels.

English language levels under the CEFR

C2 – Proficient user

Understands virtually everything heard or read, participates effortlessly in conversations and discussions, produces complex texts, and expresses themselves fluently and precisely.

C1 – Proficient user

Follows TV programmes, radio broadcasts and lectures without much effort, understands a wide range of complex tasks, expresses ideas fluently and precisely in speech and writing.

B2 – Independent user

Understands the most important aspects of presentations, TV programmes and discussions on both concrete and abstract topics if the topics are somewhat familiar, understands and produces detailed texts and can present arguments effectively.

B1 – Independent user

Participates in conversations on familiar topics, understands general and job-related information presented in everyday language, produces simple texts on topics of personal relevance.

A2 – Basic user

Understands and uses short, simple sentences in everyday situations, comprehends the main message in short ads or personal correspondence, completes tasks requiring a direct exchange of information on routine matters, produces simple notes or emails.

A1 – Basic user

Understands and uses familiar everyday words and phrases, interacts in a simple way if the other person speaks slowly, produces short notes and fills in forms.

Dynamic Placement Test and the CEFR

CEFR levels are broad — there are only six levels. Typically, an institution will have the majority of its test takers concentrated in one or two levels, perhaps A2 and B1. For a placement test to be useful, it needs to be more precise in positioning students within a level. The Dynamic Placement Test achieves this with the Relative Numeric.

The Relative Numeric is an algorithm that looks at all the items the test taker answered correctly, the CEFR level at which those items are targeted, and the overall CEFR level achieved. The algorithm assigns a score from 1 to 120. This Relative Numeric can be used within a level to rank test takers.