Department of English Language  Pedagogy

School of English and American Studies - Eφtvφs Lorαnd University

1088 Budapest, Rαkσczi ϊt 5. tel.: (36-1) 485 52 00 extension: 4407, email: delp@seas3.elte.hu




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An overview of the language proficiency exam


[The information below refers to the exam in general. To find practical information concerning the dates of the upcoming exam, please go to Neptun.]



The Use of English Component of the MA Language Exam

Sample tasks for the Use of English Component

The Oral Component of the MA Language Exam

Sample Oral Exam Item

Practice materials

Standard appeals procedure



This exam is designed to test candidates΄ command of English at C1 level, as defined in the Council of Europe΄s "Common European Framework of Reference" (CEF) standards. The exam consists of two parts: a written Use of English paper, and an Oral part in which candidates are tested in groups of three. The Use of English paper focuses mainly on grammatical, lexical and discoursal accuracy, and contains 75 questions based on continuous texts (several questions in each text) or single sentences (one or two questions in each sentence). The oral test requires candidates to speak fluently and accurately, first on their own and then in conversation with other candidates

 (see below for sample tasks).


In terms of the ELTE Hallgatσi Kφvetelmιnyrendszer, this exam is an "A tνpusϊ nyelvi alapvizsga", which means that the two parts are marked separately; in order to pass the whole exam, candidates need to reach the pass-mark in both parts, and a final grade is calculated for those who pass.


The pass-mark for the written part is 54, whereas for the oral it is 65. These are judgemental pass-marks, arrived at in an extensive judgement exercise and through measurement. Given the always present measurement error, candidates just below the pass-mark are given the benefit of doubt and the scores with which they are allowed to pass are 53 and 63, respectively. In the oral, due to the doubling of raw scores out of a maximum of 50 (by the two raters), 63 and 65 are theoretical and cannot occur, of course. Therefore, a score of 62 is still a fail, being lower than 63, but 64 is already a pass, since it is within the measurement error range. Likewise, there are no doubts about a score of 66.


 It also means that the exam is only offered once in each exam period. At the moment passing the exam is an essential prerequisite for starting courses which belong to the second part of the MA programme. For further information about scoring, standards and standard setting contact Dαvid Gergely or refer to the “Who to turn to" page.


The procedures (rules and regulations) for the exam are available here. (In Hungarian)


The Use of English Component of the MA Language Exam


General Description


This test is designed to assess candidates' practical command of English lexical, syntactic and discoursal structures. While the main focus is on structural accuracy as such, many items involve a semantic dimension, in the sense that correct answers depend on context. Candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to recognise contextually accurate and appropriate language, to recognise and correct contextually inaccurate or inappropriate language, and to produce contextually accurate and appropriate language of their own. The test is targeted at a range of abilities typically at CEF C1 level. To prepare for this part of the exam, you can turn to any practice material which is roughly between Advanced and Proficiency level. (You will find a list of reference books at the bottom of this page.)

The maximum raw score is 100. This is higher than the number of items (75), since some constructed response items (task types 4 and 5, below) require the production of short chunks of language and carry a possible score of 2 each. The candidate's Use of English raw score is halved, to give it the same weighting as his or her score on the Oral component of the exam.

Each test includes 6 or 7 subtests and example items are provided at the beginning of each subtest.

Overall time for completing the Use of English test: 90 minutes


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Task 1 


In each group of three expressions, there is one which does NOT fit the context. Mark the letter of this expression in the column on the right. Remember to mark the letter of the WRONG expression, as in the example (0).


In 1687 an invading Venetian army bombarded the Parthenon with cannonballs. They hit  stored ammunition and 0 (a) set out (b) ignited (c) set off a massive explosion that shattered the Parthenon’s columns, 1 (a) took (b) tore (c) blew apart its interior rooms and left a toppling ruin. The white marble temple that stands today on the rocky Acropolis is a 20th-century construct that an Athenian of the 5th century B.C. 2 (a) might (b) should (c) would probably fail to recognize. In a lively book, Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard 3 (a) scrapes away (b) removes (c) scratches centuries of myth and idealization, pulling the foundations of certainty 4 (a) out from among (b) from under (c) out of those crisp columns. She returns the temple to the context of its 2,500 years of turbulent history and questions the shaky 5 (a) assumptions (b) beliefs (c) thoughts on which our ideals of democracy and classical beauty rest.

  0    A     B    C


  1    A     B    C


  2   A      B    C


  3   A      B    C


  4   A      B    C


  5   A      B    C



Key: 1 A   2 B   3 C   4 C   5 C 



Task 2:


In the following text, the underlined words are in the wrong form for their context. Decide what the right forms for the context are, and write them on the numbered lines on the right, as in the example (0).


Randy Gardner was 17 years old in 1964 when he set out to break Tom

Rounds’ record for staying (0 wake) without the use of (1 stimulus).

0   awake

Stanford  researcher Dr. William C . Dement oversaw Gardner’s attempt.

The sleep (2 research) documented his observations of Gardner’s behaviour

and (3 react) throughout the eleven-day period.



Lt. Commander John J. Ross provided the medical (4 attend) for Gardner’s experiment. He monitored the youth’s vitals and physical reactions. The

outcome of this test met with general (5 belief).



Key: 1 stimulants   2 researcher   3 reactions   4 attendance 5 disbelief 



Task 3:


Decide which parts in the list (A-G) fit into the numbered gaps (1-5) in the following text. Note that there is one more part than you need. There is an example (0) at the beginning.


        It was always there in the rules. Formula One’s sporting regulations state: “The driver must drive the car alone and unaided.” One driver per car may be obvious enough. (0) _______________ Launch control to guarantee a quick start, fully automatic gearboxes, telemetry between cars and pit that allows the garage guys to spot and fix problems as they happen on track. (1) _______________ So here’s a radical idea: how about making the drivers actually drive the cars? That’s what Max Mosley, president of the sport’s ruling body, the FIA, did when he imposed dramatic restrictions on “driver aids.” (2) _______________ While Formula One remains the third most-watched spectator sport in the world, audiences have been turning away in droves. Formula One knew it needed to do something – fast.

       The teams may resent the new restrictions, but they can hardly be surprised. (3) _______________ However, the proposals they came up with, such as cosmetic changes to bodywork to allow more advertising space, didn’t commit them to any serious reductions in technology.

        More than that, even though cost savings at least should have been attractive to all the teams, not all of them welcome the changes. (4) _______________ The bosses of two of the “haves” – Frank Williams, head of the team that bears his name, and Ron Dennis, principal of McLaren – have said that they will legally challenge the way the new rules are being imposed. Dennis accused Mosley of “dumbing down” the sport. (5) _______________ When the cars line up on the grid for the season opener in Melbourne this weekend they’ll still look the same, but under the gleaming bodywork the technology is set to disappear.  


A      Dismissing the objections, Mosley said, “If you think the public wants to see computer-controlled cars guided from the pits by anonymous engineers, please think again.”


B     The rivals, who find it hard to agree with each other about anything, got together in Paris to cobble together ideas to add spice to the racing.


C      Efficient team strategies have been of crucial importance throughout the whole history of Formula One.


D      They are so much part of Formula One cars that the term unaided sounds laughable; the sport has become as much a competition of technologies as of driving skill.


E      The problem, according to the sport’s impressario, Bernie Ecclestone, is that “like in life, you have the haves and have-nots. So the haves still want to keep eating caviar   and the have-nots want caviar taken off the market.”


F     But what about all the devices invented to make the cars easier to drive?


G      After all, something had to be done to get the sport out of the slow lane; the public grew bored as the best driver in the best car ticked off win after win with metronomic predictability.





























NOTE: In Task 3 it may occur that the chunks to be put back into their appropriate contexts are shorter than the ones above, that is, they are not full sentences or short paragraphs but clauses and/or phrases only.



Task 4:


Each of the gaps in the following article can be filled with one word. Write the words in the numbered boxes on the right, as in the example (0). Use only ONE word in each box.

The Undersea World of Sound

The oceans of this world are deep, dark and mysterious places (0) _______ eyesight counts for very little once

you go very far (1) _________ the surface. The deepest parts of the oceans have still not (2) ___________ explored by humans, and it would certainly not be possible for us to survive in (3) _________ inhospitable conditions. Yet many creatures, for (4) ____________ darkness is unimportant, manage to do (5) __________ quite successfully. Two of these are whales and dolphins. Like us they breathe air, but (6) ___________ us they do not need to see in (7) ____________ to communicate effectively. (8) _____________is important for them is sound, which, in (9) __________, travels five (10)______________ faster through water (11) ___________ through air.



























Key: 1 below/beneath   2. been   3. such   4. whom/which   5. so   6. unlike    7. order  8. What   9. fact   10. times   11. than



Task 5:


Rewrite the following sentences using the word in brackets, so that the new sentence means the same as the old one. Do not change the form of the given word. (2 points for each correct answer). There is an example (0) at the beginning.


0.    I had to shout, otherwise people couldn’t have understood me. (make)

I had to shout (in order/so as) to make myself understood.


1. If I were you, I’d consult a doctor. (suggest)

        I suggest ……………………………………………………………

2. She still doesn’t like getting up early. (used)

         She …………………………………………………………………

3. Do you think he has already heard the news? (likely)

        Is he …………………………………………………………………

4. If you take that job, you’ll have to get up at six every morning. (mean)

        Taking ………………………………………………………………

5. Ann got one of the best jewellers in town to make her a wedding ring. (had)

        Ann had………………………………………………………………



1. I suggest that you (should) see the doctor.    

2. She still isn’t used to getting / She still hasn’t got used to getting …

3. Is she likely to have heard the news?

4. Taking that job means having to get up …

5. Ann had her wedding ring made by …

    Ann had one of the best jewellers in town make her …



Task 6:


Complete each unfinished sentence so that it means the same as the sentence before it.  Include all the information from the original sentenc. (2 points for each correct answer). There is an example (0) at the beginning.


0. I have never seen such a completely useless invention.

     Never  have I seen such a completely useless invention.


1. I suggest that you take a seat; don’t stand for the whole journey.

Wouldn’t you prefer ……………….……………………….………………… ? 

2. They fear that many lives were lost in the ferry disaster last night.

Many lives ……………………………………………………………………… . 

3. It’s always the same – the moment I finish washing the car it begins to rain.

Scarcely ………………………………………………………………………… .

4. The police ordered that someone should tow the car away.

The police arranged …………………………………………………………… . 

5. ‘I can smell something burning. Will you check what it is?’ Jill said to me at the party.

At the party Jill told ………………………………………………………………



1. Wouldn’t you prefer to take a seat rather than stand / instead of standing …

2. Many lives are feared to have been lost …

3. Scarcely do I finish washing … when it begins …

4. … for the car to be towed away.

5. … me (that) she could smell … and asked (me) to check what it was.



Task 7:


Complete the following sentences with TWO words in each space. There is an example (0) at the beginning.


0. My sister prefers to cut her hair herself   to having it cut at the hairdresser.


1. In 1990 I travelled to Greece; that was the first time I ……. ……… abroad.

2. I was nervous about renting out my house but it turned ……. ………. be a good decision.

3. I can’t stand that woman. She looks ………… ………… everyone who isn’t rich.

4. The rescue party said there was slight chance of ………… ………… any survivors.

5. Jack likes ………… ………… his girlfriend dresses well.


Key:   1. had been/gone   2 out to   3 down (up)on   4 there being   5 it if



Task 8:


In each group of four expressions, there is only ONE that fits the context. Mark the letter of this expression, as in the example (0).


0. If you never save any money, you live from hand to .... .


 A  mouth             B/ purse                    C/ hunger                              D/ pocket


1. A car broken down in the middle of the road is ........ .


A/ a delay              B/ a hindrance          C/ an obstruction                D/ an inhibition


2. This is by no ………...… the first time I’ve had to warn him – he really has no excuse!


A/ consideration              B/ way                        C/ means                   D/ degree.


3. Jack: Ms Lee is always aware of what’s happening in the office. She’s extremely competent, isn’t she?

Jill: Yes, she’s certainly on the .......... .


A/ ball                           B/ level                       C/ mark                      D/ line


4. I suggested in a hesitating way that what my friend was doing was wrong.


A/ scrupulously               B/ tentatively             C/leniently                 D/ apprehensively


5. Although he spoke slowly, I found it difficult at times to follow the ……………of his argument.


            A/ spool                      B/ track                       C/ thread                    D/ path


6. The professor noticed that the student’s essay …………. a strong resemblance to an article he had seen published in a journal.


            A/ bore                       B/ held                                    C/ carried                   D/contained 


Key:  1C           2C       3 A       4 B       5 C      6 A


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The Oral Component of the MA Language Exam

General information  

This is a group exam with three students and two assessors and will last approximately 25'. The exam comprises two main phases in which candidates will be prompted to relate personally relevant experiences to each other share and negotiate their opinions on a more complex or controversial issue. The actual tasks in these phases are meant to elicit experiences and issues of a broadly professional nature, i.e. those related to the concerns of English language teachers, learners and education in general:


number of task/phase 

Task description

Task text and Procedure 

(what the candidate has to do)

Task or task features

Skills/strategies tested

Approx. time

Scoring or rating method



Preparation for

Phases 1 and 2

Exam candidates receive a scripted task from one of the assessors

Candidates read and think about what they will be saying.

No output (speaking) expected. In fact, candidates should not speak to each other or agree on various test-taking strategies (who should speak first, who is going to take a leading role, who should sit where).

5 minutes

Not rated



Phase 1

To test the skill of speaking in the context of a small group

(3 candidates)

Scripted task comprising a brief exposure of the task with questions that help the candidate get into (or frame) the task. Questions focus on a possible set of personal experiences that candidates can use as a starting point. The candidates’ chairs form a semicircle, facing the assessors.  Candidates may take notes on the task slip but cannot use them during the interaction.

Designed to elicit extended (long) turns: a planned kind of discourse.

Candidates can, where necessary and appropriate, ask a speaker helpful questions, invite them  to say more about the topic or an aspect of it.  Candidates keep eye contact with each other, not the assessors.

7-9 minutes

Phases 1 and 2 are rated together.

Independent rating by two assessors, on the basis of 5 assessment points of view (criteria), each covering a six point scale with score points 0-5.


Phase 2

To test conversational skills in the context of a small group

(3 candidates)

Scripted task, to be found only in the assessors’ copy of the task sheet, which the candidates have not seen.

The task is typically an agreement getting or consensus seeking task, to ensure that communication does take place and to prevent it from “going flat”.

No thinking time provided.

Assessor mediates task, by using their own words or reading it out from the task sheet.

Designed to elicit conversational language, with typically shorter turns, i.e. to elicit an unplanned kind of discourse. Candidates demonstrate their ability to respond to a task for which they do not plan in advance. Candidates are expected to demonstrate an ability manage the conversation (to turn-take appropriately, step in and sensitively allow/ invite the third speaker to contribute)

5-8 minutes



Asking a rescue question

Optional phase, used only as a last resort if one or more of the candidates do not provide enough evidence for rating.

A scripted question labelled as “rescue question” on the assessor's task sheet.


One-to one (assessor to candidate) interaction.

In this phase candidate keeps exe-contact with the assessor.

Concluded as soon as assessors are satisfied


1 minute


Two assessors mark

To allow assessors to reflect on the performances and fill in the score sheets accurately. Assessors double check first names, Ids, scores entered, etc.

Candidates leave the room when interaction is over and assessors are satisfied that the speech sample is rateable.

Assessors use the criteria with descriptors in a tabled format to award scores.

Assessors negotiate only if the scores differ greatly (a limit is to be specified later).

Max. 5 minutes





Phase 1:

Think back to a teacher who took a personal interest in your life other than in their role as a teacher.


Who was this teacher? Describe him/her briefly.

What was their role? What did he/she do in this role? 

When the test begins, tell your partners about this teacher and listen to their accounts, too.



      only seen by assessors!      


Phase 2 by the interlocutor:


Agree on three situations that a caring and reflective teacher should definitely not get involved in.


Rescue question:

Describe the kind of involvement you aim for as a teacher.






All oral exam items will have been designed around a prototypical structure with different functions. The table below shows the content elements of the sample task with their corresponding function.




Phase 1 (on a slip of paper)


Think back to a teacher who took a personal interest in your life other than in their role as a teacher.


Describe him/her briefly.

What did the teacher do?




How did this influence you?




When the test begins, tell your partners about this teacher and listen to their accounts.


Phase 2: (Given by examiner)


Agree on three situations that make it very problematic for a teacher to get involved.


Rescue question

What values or beliefs are important to you as a teacher?




‘Lead-in’ part: statements, questions or quotations intended to provide an entry point to the topic, to focus and  ’warm up’ the candidate through personalization.


Descriptive and/or narrative part: more open questions and instructions to get each candidate to offer a largely descriptive account of a fairly concrete experience or subject-matter.


Exploratory part: more reflective as it requires candidates to explore earlier personal, concrete events, experiences, i.e. to move from concrete to more abstract or specific to more general forms of expression.


This is a reminder, included in every task sheet.



Phase 2 lead-in: statements, questions or quotations


Discussion part: Instructions to express (different) viewpoints and arrive at a negotiated discussion outcome.


“Rescue” prompt: Given by an examiner and most likely directed at one of the candidates in order to elicit more contributions/language on the topic.



The oral exam is graded on the basis of carefully developed criteria. You can download the scales used for marking from here.


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Practice Materials:

Among others the following books may help students prepare for the exam:

Brook-Hart,G.,and Haines,S. (2009). Cambridge Complete CAE . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 1-3 (Practice tests)(2009). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (Practice tests) (2005). Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.

Hewings, M. (2009). Cambridge Garammar for CAE and Proficiency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Side, R., and Wellman, G. (1999). Grammar and Vocabulary for Cambridge Advanced and Proficiency.  Harlow: Longman.

Swan, M. and Walter, C. (2011). Oxford English Grammar Course - Advanced. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  (not actually a course, but explanations+examples)

Vince, M. (2004, 2009).Advanced Language Practice. London: Macmillan.


Click the following links to find more practice material from:

Stanson, A. and Morris, S. (1994, 1999). CAE Practice Tests. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Ltd. The key to the exercises can be found below the links.


The tasks appear in a new window and you may have to use [ctrl +] to resize the text for better viewing.


MULTIPLE CHOICE  (History set in stone)


1.D, 2.B, 3.B, 4.D, 5.A, 6.A, 7.A, 8.C, 9.D, 10.D, 11.A, 12.A, 13.A, 14.B, 15.B


CLOZE  (Across the gap)


16.from   17. such   18. deal   19. able   20. some / certain   21. but   22. can / will   23.when / if  

24. without  25. which   26. like   27.to   28.another   29.because / as / since  30. for / at


WORD FORMATION (In case of fire, Subscribe now)


0. responsibility  47. loss, 48. security, 49. authorised, 50. warning, 51. electricity, 52. disabled, 53. belongings, 54. subscription, 55. payment, 56. administration, 57.reduction, 58. saving, 59. renewing, 60. automatically, 61. reminder


MISSING PARAGRAPHS:  TEXT  (Terrorised by a collar stud)    PARAGRAPHS


17.C, 18. F, 19. G, 20. A, 21 D, 22. B

Note: Instead of missing paragraphs you may have to find the missing sentences or phrases in the MA Use of English paper.



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Standard Appeals Procedure:


a. Please note that our language exams are only offered once in each exam period which might mean that if you fail, you may have to extend your studies and have to pay extra depending on your programme.

b. Students have an opportunity to inspect their papers during the period advertised by the department when they can compare their answers with the key.

c. Relatives/friends/outside experts are allowed to accompany students to the inspection, but they cannot be present when the direct communication between the student concerned and faculty staff takes place.

d. If the candidate does not agree with the key, the student may decide to write an appeal to the head of the department, in which s/he describes the contested items.

e. Within three working days the head of the department sets up a committee consisting of himself/herself, the head of the testing team and one native speaker. This committee either rejects or accepts the appeal with a simple majority vote. This decision is final as far as the department is concerned. (Of course, the student can always decide to appeal to the Faculty Studies Committee / Kari Tanulmαnyi Bizottsαg.)






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