Diplomas and Tests in Business and Professional English
Your Key to Successful Communication in International Business

Business English Skills Test (paper test)

The Business English Skills Test (BEST) is a fast, but complete means of measuring and validating a candidate’s ability to use English, both orally and in writing, in a professional context. It is designed for:

  • Job-seekers needing to prove their level of competence in English to prospective employers
  • Professionals wishing to validate their level of competence in English after a training course in business/professional English (i.e. DIF)
  • Students of Business Schools, Universities and commercial BTS classes
  • Anyone planning to go to work in an English-speaking country

BEST can be used to test students from elementary to advanced level. However, weaker students should be warned that they may not be able to answer all the questions.

BEST exists in general business English (called the Standard Version) and in specialised English.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE TEST PAPERS

The paper test consists of 3 written papers and an oral test.

WRITTEN TEST – 2 hours ORAL TEST – 15 minutes

Paper 1 : 45m
Grammar & syntax, Reading Comprehension

 

 

Part 1 – Interview / Presentation
Part 2 – Role-play

Paper 2 – 30m
Listening comprehension

Paper 3 – 45m
Writing

 

In the standard test, the instructions for the writing exercise and role-play are in French. However, an all-English version is also possible to enable the test to be used with groups which include non French speakers.


GRAMMAR & SYNTAX

40 multi-choice questions on grammar, syntax and phrasal verbs. The questions cover a range of grammatical points as well as key phrasal verbs and prepositional phrases:

The level of difficulty increases progressively over the 40 questions.

The candidate selects the answer from a choice of 4 possible answers. The candidate is advised to tick “I don’t know” if he/she is unsure of the answer.

 

READING COMPREHENSION

This paper comprises three exercises:

i) 5 short email messages, each followed by 1 multi-choice question.
ii) 1 short and simple press article followed by 8 True/False questions.
iii) 1 longer, complex press article followed by 6 multi-choice questions.

The candidate selects the answer from a choice of 4 possible answers. The candidate is advised to tick “I don’t know” if he/she is unsure of the answer.

The Grammar and Reading tests are given in the same booklet.

Duration: 45 minutes (for both sections)
A separate mark out of 100 is given for each of the two papers.

 

LISTENING COMPREHENSION

10 recorded passages. Questions and answers in English.

The first passages are fairly simple and require candidates to note down precisely telephone/fax numbers, names which are spelt, numbers, percentages and prices, e-mail addresses and dates/times. The passages become progressively more complex and challenging and require candidates to understand more complicated pieces of information. The dialogues contain a variety of native-speaker accents.

Candidates hear all passages twice and have time to complete the answer sheet between passages.

In the paper format, all the questions are ‘open’ and require the candidate to write the answer.

Duration: 30 minutes
Marked out of 100

 

WRITING

The writing test is made up of 2 parts:

i) e-mail message

 Candidates are instructed to write a fairly routine e-mail message to a business correspondent.
The instructions are given in French or in English for the All-English version.

ii) essay

The candidate is required to express his/her ideas on one or two of five business themes proposed in at least 100 words.

A simple theme such as “Describe your job” is always proposed to enable even the weakest candidates to attempt this part of the test. However, candidates will be given credit for attempting more difficult themes.

Duration: 45 minutes
Marked out of 100



SPEAKING

The standard format for the BEST Speaking Test s as follows:

i)    Interview / Presentation

The candidate is asked to present him/herself and talk about his/her studies/work placements/career ambitions/company/job. Candidates should be encouraged to prepare their presentations in advance. The examiner will also ask specific questions to help the candidate to structure the talk.

ii)   Role-Play

After the interview/presentation, the candidate is presented with instructions for a role-play situation. The examiner has a selection of role-plays ranging from fairly basic to quite complex and will select a role-play suited to each candidate’s profile and level. The candidate’s instructions are given in French. The candidate has one minute to read the instructions and is then asked to act the situation with the examiner.

However, it is also possible to have a longer structured interview without the role-play. In this case, examiners ask the candidates questions from a pre-determined list. Candidates will be asked to spell their name, give telephone number / email address and talk about their company and their work. If the examiner considers the candidate to be strong enough, he/she will also be invited to express his/her views on a topic in the news. A short presentation can also be given.

Duration: 15 minutes
Marked out of 100


GRADING SYSTEM

Candidates obtain a score out of 100 for each of the 5 papers and a global score out of 100 which situates their level on the FBCCI / CEF scale:

Global Score FBCCI Level CEF Level*
0-10/100 Beginner A1-
11-25/100 Elementary A1
26-40/100 Pre-Intermediate A2
41-60/100 Intermediate B1
61-80/100 Upper-Intermediate B2
81-95/100 Advanced C1
96-100/100 Bilingual C2


* Common European Framework

The FBCCI level descriptors are in complete harmony with those of the Common European Framework. See also the FBCCI scale of levels.


RESULTS

The results of the paper test are available approximately 10 working days after receipt of the test papers at the FBCCI Exams Department office in Paris. The results can be communicated in a variety of forms:

  • a table summarising the scores/levels of all the candidates
  • a ‘bilan des competences en anglais’ : a detailed test report showing the scores obtained in each part of the test, the global level, the aspects mastered or not mastered and a short personalised commentary.
  • a ‘Certificat de Compétence’ : an official certificate showing the scores obtained in each part of the test as well as the candidate’s global level. The candidate also receives the complete scale of levels for reference.


BUSINESS ENGLISH SKILLS TEST IN SPECIALISED ENGLISH

The BUSINESS ENGLISH SKILLS TEST is also available with options in the following areas of specialisation:

  • Travel and Tourism
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Secretaries & Receptionists
  • Flight Attendants

It is also possible to order tailored BEST tests to suit the specific needs of a company or school.

The structure of the specialised English BEST tests can vary slightly depending on the linguistic needs of each professional area.