What motivates learners? According to studies on motivation, some of the motivating elements can be traced back to:

  • learners understanding the learning goals
  • learners appreciating the goals as meaningful, in other words both attainable and relevant for their needs outside the class
  • learners getting a sense of progress by achieving goals and moving on to the next set of goals
  • learners being able to relate their achievement to real-life standards or requirements, or to compare their performance to that of fellow students or applicants

Cambridge English level-based exams are motivating for learners for two main reasons.

The first motivating factor relates to the clear statement of learning goals, encouraging progress up the proficiency ladder. Students can use our Qualifications as a goal for their learning, and as soon as they have passed the exam they have a new set of goals ahead. On the one hand our Cambridge certificates and results provide feedback as to the attained performance level in each language skill. On the other hand, the Cambridge English exam at the next level offers an equally informative set of teaching and learning goals for further improvement.

The other motivating factor relates to the relevance of the learning goals themselves. Our Qualifications are based on a communicative view of language and closely tie in with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which means that in preparing for our exams, students are preparing for the type of real-life requirements they will need to face in their future. Teaching to the test is in this way minimised.

Read here more about

  • motivation as researched in language teaching studies
  • extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
  • the motivational self
  • how motivation research findings account for the motivating quality of Cambridge exams.

What is a level-based test?

Some language tests don’t require candidates to have a specific ability level in order to pass. There is no pass or fail in such tests, only a score which is related to a level on a proficiency scale. These are called multi-level tests. Placement tests are by definition multi-level tests.

Cambridge English Qualifications, in contrast, are level-based exams, which means that candidates are expected to demonstrate language skills at a specific level. There is a pass or fail, as well as several grades to mark the degree of achievement.



Level-based exams and learner motivation
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