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The state provides upper secondary schools graduates the long-awaited opportunity to take an international English language test free of charge

7. May 2019 - 14:32

Starting in autumn, all secondary school graduates with very good English language skills will have the opportunity to take an internationally recognised high-level (C1) English language test free of charge and receive an international certificate. This will simplify the further studies of students who want to pursue a career that requires very good foreign language skills and those who wish to participate in student mobility programs. Pilot session involving students from 20 schools will take place as early as this spring.

The graduates of Estonian upper secondary schools will have the option to take an international language test instead of the state examination in English, if they so desire. Until now, only students who studied French, German and Russian as a foreign language had the opportunity to take such an exam.

According to Mailis Reps, the Minister of Education, Estonian students have shown the greatest interest in studying English, and providing them with the opportunity to take an international English language test free of charge is a long-awaited step that will increase students’ motivation and encourage them to make more ambitious plans for their future.
“Starting this autumn, we will give all young people the opportunity to take an international English language test free of charge and thereby increase students’ competitiveness and widen their options. Hundreds of young people in Estonia take internationally recognised English language tests and pay a considerable fee. The state wishes to give students from families that cannot at present afford such fees the same opportunity. This is undoubtedly an investment in the future and at the same time a gift from the state to young people starting their independent life,” said Mailis Reps. The Minister of Education added that having better options for receiving an international certificate for English language skills is good news for institutes of higher education as well as employers as it promotes study mobility and international cooperation.

Margit Timakov, the leader of the Estonian Teachers Association, says that it’s very positive, that state is showing support to those students, whose language skills are higher that the B2 level, which is measured by state examination, by giving them an opportunity to take an international test free of charge. “The state examination we have today doesn’t allow to measure higher level of skills and it’s great that now students have an opportunity to get an adequate evaluation of their skills. This is a challenge for English language teachers as well – they definitely need to gain more knowledge and skills to be able to support their stundents in a best possible way“.

In order to give young people the opportunity to take the Cambridge Assessment English C1 Advanced test selected under an international procurement, Foundation Innove is carrying out pilot session this spring. “This spring we organise pilot testing for 11th grade students from 20 schools. The test will be taken in 3-4 places all over Estonia. If the students pass the test successfully, they will receive a certificate indicating that they have achieved a high level of skill in the English language, i.e. C1. In autumn all secondary school graduates with sufficient English language skills will have the option to take the Cambridge C1 Advanced test, which has been developed by the internationally recognised testing organisation Cambridge Assessment English and can be used to prove language skills on an international level,” said Birgit Lao, the Chief Executive Officer at Foundation Innove. According to Lao, unlike with other foreign languages, the taking of an international English language test free of charge does not mean that the option to take the state examination of English is no longer available. Therefore, a student who does not achieve such a high level during their secondary school studies will still be able to take the state examination in English and use the results received to prove their language skills.


  • The total number of students who study English as a foreign language in general education schools in the current academic year is around 123 000.
  • In spring 2018 the examination in English was taken by 7,374 test takers, in Russian by 296, in German by 174 and in French by 142.
  • The internationally recognised language test was taken instead of the state examination in English on at Level C1 or higher by 827 students in spring 2018.
  • The Cambridge Assessment English testing organisation was established over 100 years ago; the Cambridge C1 Advanced test has been taken in more than a hundred countries by a total of 400,000 people in the last three years.

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