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PET is an exam for people who can use every day written and spoken English at intermediate level. It covers all four language skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking. Preparing for the exam is a popular way to develop and improve your language skills because it provides practical language practice in a variety of everyday work, study and leisure situations.

PET reflects the use of language in real life, such as understanding signs and announcements, and is accepted by many employers as proof of ability to use English in clerical, secretarial or managerial jobs. It is also widely accepted for use in jobs where spoken English is necessary such as tourism, retail, construction, manufacturing and engineering.

There are two versions of PET available: PET and PET for Schools. Both follow exactly the same format and the level of the question papers is identical. The only difference is that the content and treatment of topics in PET for Schools have been particularly targeted at the interests and experience of school pupils.


Can you use English to:

  • Deal with everyday events?
  • Read simple textbooks or magazine articles?
  • Write letters on familiar subjects?
  • Take notes in a meeting?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then PET is the right exam for you.


Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world famous and historic university of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking PET:

  • PET certificates are valid for life. You will not need to take the exam again
  • PET is a truly international certificate, recognised worldwide for business and study purposes
  • Thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise PET as an intermediate qualification in English
  • Although PET is a basic exam, it offers a chance to find out your strengths and weaknesses in using English, and gives you a route to higher qualifications such as the First Certificate in English (FCE)
  • PET’s ‘Can Do’ skills give you the confidence to use English in real situations
‘Progressing along the proficiency ladder makes me feel confident in myself. I know where I’m going, what I have to do to achieve the English level I want. It makes me highly motivated. Preparing for the exams helped me discover the beauties of English.’

Nguyen Thi Ky Binh — PET candidate


PET is at Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real language skills.

At B1 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • Understand the main points of straightforward instructions or public announcements
  • Deal with most of the situations you might encounter when travelling as a tourist in an English speaking country
  • Ask simple questions and take part in factual conversations in a work environment
  • Write letters or make notes on familiar matters.

Your preparation for PET will give you these kinds of practical language skills.


PET has three papers:

Reading and Writing: 1 hour 30 minutes

You need to be able to read texts from signs, journals, newspapers and magazines and understand the main points. You will need to show you can use vocabulary and structure by completing tasks such as writing a short message, and a story or letter of around 100 words. You will also need to complete an exercise involving changing the meaning of sentences.

Listening: 30 minutes (approx.)

You will need to show that you can understand the meaning of a range of recorded spoken material, including announcements and discussions about everyday life. You need to be able to follow the attitudes and intentions of the speakers.

Speaking: 10-12 minutes

Candidates take the Speaking test in pairs. You have to show your spoken English by taking part in conversation, asking and answering questions, and talking freely about your likes and dislikes.


As with all of Cambridge ESOL’s certificates, there is a wide range of support to help you prepare for your exam.

While you can choose to prepare for PET on your own, many candidates prefer to take the preparation courses run by SPEAK language school

You can access a variety of support materials from the Resources area of our website. These include a small booklet, Information for Candidates, and sample exam papers, which include sound files for the Listening test materials.

Many publishers have produced a wide selection of books and other aids to help you prepare for taking PET. Ask your local bookshop for details.

To help you prepare for PET, we provide teachers with their own webpage so they can download sample exam papers, handbooks, and other teaching support material.


  • PET is a truly international certificate, recognised by administrative, industrial, and service-based employers as a qualification in intermediate English.
  • It is also accepted by a large number of educational institutions for study purposes.
  • Companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Gillette and KPMG all recognise the value of PET in their overseas offices.
‘I took the exam because I wanted to find out how good I am at English. The day of the exam I felt very nervous because I’ve never had a similar experience before, but when I saw the tasks I felt safer and became calm. Every task was explained well and I’m just glad that I had the chance to do the exam.’

Bernd Koch — PET candidate


  • PET offers an easy to understand route to other, higher qualifications such as the First Certificate in English (FCE), and the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE).
  • PET’s ‘Can Do’ skills enable you to use English in real situations with confidence. PET exams use real life situations and are specially designed to help you communicate more effectively in your own life and to focus your language learning on the skills you will actually need.
  • Because PET exams focus on all four communication skills — Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking — you increase your confidence in using English in everyday situations.


Each skill carries 25% of the total marks. There are two Pass grades (Pass with Merit and Pass) and certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve these grades. Candidates who achieve a grade Narrow Fail or Fail are judged not to have reached the required standard for PET.

Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the centres. Candidates can also see them over the internet. If you have any questions about your results, you should contact the centre where you took the exam. Once awarded Cambridge ESOL PET certificates are valid for life.

Candidates can access their results through the Results Online website.

Next steps


  • If you are studying English at the moment, speak to your teacher at Speak language school about how to enrol.
  • Entries cannot be made directly to Cambridge ESOL.
  • Already registered? Visit the Candidate Support site for exam preparation help.
  • If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) it may be possible to ask for Special Arrangements to be made when taking the exam.
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Paul Newman