General English Exams
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Anglia Preliminary Level Exam A1 CEFRAnglia Preliminary Step to Books

What does Preliminary test?

Preliminary is the first of the levels to divide the language tested into separate skills: reading (including use of English), writing, listening, and speaking. The A1 speaking exam is optional. It is also the first of the steps in the 10-step system to reach a Common European Framework of Reference level. It is an A1 level exam. This A1 level exam tests the following:

  • an understanding of about 800 words (including the 400 from previous levels)
  • an understanding and use of the past simple, regular and irregular verbs
  • adjectives and modifiers, for descriptive and comparative purposes
  • possession – expressions of ownership
  • countable and uncountable things, quantifiers both positive and negative
  • instructions and commands

What does the candidate have to do in the Preliminary exam?

  • read short passages
  • multiple choice questions
  • fill in gaps
  • answer questions
  • write questions
  • write sentences
  • answer true/false questions

Performance Indicators

The candidate

  • has a basic active vocabulary of about 800 words
  • can communicate present and past events, actions in progress, completed actions and life experiences
  • can use conjunctions to order events
  • can communicate where things are and when things happen
  • can express opposites, comparisons and ownership
  • can ask questions, answer questions, and write full sentences

 An alternative version is available for adults learning at this level. The exam consists of the same performance indicators, but has been adapted for use by more adult learners. The word list has been slightly revised. For practice material, please click here. (Link to Adult Learner Practice Material)


Grammar and Structures List

Grammar and Structures What are they used for? Some examples

Past Simple including common irregular past forms as well as regular forms, interrogative and negative

Talking about past events

We watched a football match last night.     He drove to the hotel. 

Did John drink the juice?                                 

I didn't speak to her.

Basic adjectives For descriptive purposes, including expressing opposites

The film was very funny.       

This is a wonderful story.

Comparatives and superlatives (including better and best) Talking about comparisons between people and things My mother is older/more beautiful than my teacher.    John isn't as tall as Jane.          She is the tallest girl in the class.                    The book was better than the film.
the possessive form Expressing ownership That bag is Jane's.
mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs Talking about ownership, who things belong to My bike is newer than yours.  That book is mine.

much - many - a lot - a lot of

Talking about amounts of things which can or cannot be counted How much money have you got? I've got a lot of it!          It rains a lot in England.          How many brothers has she got?
some - any Talking about things which can or cannot be counted, in the positive and negative

There is some bread.             

There isn't any butter.

by, with, next to, above, below, up, down, out, off, on, Describing location and position

The children are standing next to the clock.

They ran up the stairs.

ago, never, for,  before, after Talking about when things happened

I went to Paris six years ago

He lived there for 10 years.


New words for this level are in bold

Clothes dress, shirt, T-shirt, trousers, skirt, boots, socks, shoes, trainers, hat, watch, clothes, jeans, jacket, tie, coat, shorts, scarf, swimming costume, swimming shorts, glasses, suit, pyjamas, raincoat, jewellery, necklace, ring, bracelet, earrings
Food, meals and drink food, cake, ice cream, chocolate, pizza, egg, biscuits, hamburger, hot-dog, omelette, steak, fish, salad, breakfast, lunch, dinner,  milk, juice, party, bread, tea, coffee, water, lemonade,  chicken, sandwich, sugar, ketchup, chips, cheese, sweets, butter, crisps, cola, pancake, spaghetti, soup, popcorn, pasta, rice, also - a packet of, a can of, a bottle of
Birds bird, penguin, parrot, duck, hen, chicken, peacock, flamingo, owl, seagull
Jobs teacher, job, doctor, farmer, secretary, businessman/woman, policeman/woman, shop assistant, in the army, student, dentist, vet, fireman/fighter, postman, artist, nurse, professor, pilot, clown, (football) player, manager, waiter/waitress, chef, President, thief, zoo keeper, train/taxi driver, fisherman, actor
School pen, pencil, rubber, ruler, book, desk, computer, classroom, bag, blackboard,  homework, work, test, exam, student, lesson, letters, words, sentence, question, answer, story, dictionary, subject, class, spelling, head teacher
Transport bus, bicycle, car, train, aeroplane, helicopter, boat,
taxi, bike, motor bicycle, motorbike, tractor, lorry (Brit), truck (Amer), skateboard
Animals animal, cat, dog, monkey, lion, bear, elephant, crocodile, snake, tiger, zebra, rabbit, mouse, fox, frog, spider, hippo, giraffe, horse, sheep, cow, pet, kitten, puppy, donkey, camel, butterfly, fly, goat, pig, dinosaur
Household house, chair, table, window, door, television, bed, bath, clock, picture, vase, photo, radio,  mat,  floor, cupboard, video, mirror, sofa, armchair, shower, wardrobe, carpet, rug, dressing table, plant, shelf, washing machine, towel, chimney, roof, wall, floor, curtains, stairs, balcony, also - upstairs, downstairs (adj/adv)
Kitchen glass, plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork, spoon, saucepan, frying pan, mug, saucer, fridge, dish, cooker, oven, dish washer
Vegetables vegetable, potato, tomato, carrot, cabbage, onion, spinach, pea, bean
Fruit apple, banana, orange, lemon, pear, peach, cherry, strawberry, melon, pineapple, apricot, grape, coconut
fish, dolphin, octopus, shark, whale, starfish, goldfish, jellyfish
Garden garden, flower, tree, grass, lawn, plant, rose, tulip, leaf, ground
Days of the week day, week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, birthday, weekend
Months of the year month, year, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Sport sport, football, tennis, ball, swimming, basketball, volleyball, baseball, fishing, football match, tennis racket, running, skiing, snow boarding, sailing, cricket, golf, (ice)hockey, (ice)skating, goal, team, competition, club, race
Places school, house, park, garden, home, shop, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, zoo, farm, supermarket, office, cinema, cafe, restaurant, car park, flat, swimming pool, town centre, beach, sea, mountains, town, city, village, fields, country (e.g. England etc.), countryside, theatre, hotel, station, circus, lake, river, sports centre, island, factory, campsite, hill, pizzeria, shopping centre, fair, airport, prison, castle, tent, jungle, library, market, playground,
Musical Instruments guitar, piano, drum, flute, violin, saxophone
Toys ball, kite, castle, soldiers, paint, paintbrush, puppet, drum, doll, teddy, robot, balloon, game, puzzle
Weather sun, rain, wind, snow, hot, cold, sunny, rainy, windy, snowy, fog, foggy, cloud, cloudy, hurricane, sky, rainbow, umbrella, storm
Parts of the body hair, eyes, mouth, nose, face, arms, legs, foot/feet, head, hands, finger, knee, toe, tooth/teeth, stomach, shoulder, beard, moustache, also - headache, stomach ache, earache, toothache
Seasons spring, summer, autumn, winter
Directions north, south, east, west, left, right

Cardinal numbers

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one to sixty, sixty-one to one hundred
Time expressions four fifteen, [a] quarter past/to four, half past four, ten past four, four ten, ten to four, etc. morning, evening, today, night, day, yesterday, tomorrow, afternoon, tonight, last night, last week, next Monday etc
Family members and people mother, father, brother, sister, baby, girl, boy, man, woman, children, family, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandmother, grandfather, Mum, Dad, friend, husband, wife, sone, daughter, lady, neighbour, boss
Shapes shape, square, circle, triangle, rectangle
Miscellaneous film, newspaper, magazine, star, moon, thing, holiday, ticket, camera, fun, card/postcard/letter, swing, slide, box, adventure, snowman, fairy, sand, sandcastle, shell, pocket, purse, handbag, ghost, trip, present/gift, key, hobby, programme, accident, comic, invitation, decorations, tunnel, blanket, email, text, top, bottom
Exclamations Ow! Wow!
 Size tall, short, big, small, long, little, large, fat, thin, thick
Feelings happy, sad, favourite, best, angry, tired, sick/ill, bored, scared/frightened, excited, lonely, thirsty, hungry
Colours colour, black, blue, green, yellow, white, orange, red, grey, brown, pink, purple
Age old, young, new
Other clever, nice, good, friendly, exciting, interesting, great, wonderful, brilliant, terrible, funny, lucky, scary, warm, comfortable, kind, naughty, high, low, rich, poor, hard, soft, wet, dry, closed, open, late, early, fast, quick, slow, wrong,right, heavy, light, dark, dirty, clean, expensive, cheap, beautiful, ugly, 
Modifiers very, really, quite

am/are/is, cook, draw, drink, eat, go, have, has, like, listen, play, read, sit, stand, watch, wear, write, buy, can, clean, do, drive, get up, have/has got, live, look, make, ride, run, sleep, start, swim, talk, tell, understand, walk, want, wash, work, write,  answer, arrive, begin, blow, borrow, break, build,  call, carry, catch, chase, choose, close, climb, come, cost, dance, deliver, draw, drink, drop, end, enjoy, escape, fall, fail, feel, find, finish, fly, frighten, give, hate, help, hide, hold, hurt, invite, jump, keep, kick, laugh, leave, lose, love, meet, move, open, paint, park, pass, pay, pick, practise, push, put, sail, scream, see, sell, send, share, shine, show, shout, sing, speak, spend, stay, steal, stop, sweep, take, teach, throw, travel, try, visit, wear, win,   

PREPOSITIONS in, under, behind, on, near, in front of, at, with, to, above, below, up, down, out, off,
ADVERBS today, now, at the moment, never, always, sometimes, often, usually, every day, every week, together


Preliminary Level Exam Past Papers (for students)

Link to A1 English test practice papers (exam papers, audio file and marking keys)
Link to Preliminary level A1 Speaking exam test

Preliminary Level Exam Past Papers (for teachers)

Link to past papers for teachers (exam papers, audio file and answer keys)

Speaking video example

Link to a video of a Preliminary speaking exam