Posted by: ceamcar | 17 December, 2008

Business English Certificate (BEC)

First of all, it´s the third time I try to write this post and I have just decided to continue writing at this very moment, because one minute before I was exasperated. What a stupid desktop I have!! I don´t know why, but it gets hung up, I can´t continue writing and I lose everything I have written. And, writing off the cuff is fantastic, but remembering the ideas I have written the first time is really annoying…

Anyway, my purpose was to explain some information I have found about BEC exams. I thought they were from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry International Qualifications, but all that I have found is related to Cambridge examinations.

As you might know, there are three different levels of BEC: BEC Preliminary, BEC Vantage and BEC Higher. There are four parts in the exam:

  1. Reading (it lasts 1 hour)
  2. Writing (it lasts 1 hour 10 minutes)
  3. Listening (it lasts about 40 minutes including transfer time)
  4. Speaking (16 minutes per pair of candidates)

You have sample papers of the 4 parts here and here

As far as I know, there are books plenty of mock exams to do for practice. They are available in the bookshops near our school.

  • Speaking

Part 1 (Conversation)

What’s in Part 1?
Conversation with the interlocutor. The interlocutor asks you questions on a number of personal or work-related subjects.
What do I have to practise?
Giving personal information and expressing opinions.
How long do we have to speak?
About 3 minutes.

Part 2 (Mini-presentation)

What’s in Part 2?
A ‘mini-presentation’ on a business theme. The examiner gives you a choice of three topics (A, B or C). You have 1 minute to prepare to give a speech lasting approximately 1 minute. Listen carefully when your partner speaks as you have to ask a question when they have finished.
What do I have to practise?
Talking on your own about something: giving information and expressing and justifying opinions.
How long do we have to speak?
About 6 minutes.

Part 3 (Discussion)

What’s in Part 3?
A discussion with the other candidate. The examiner gives you a business-related situation with two discussion points to talk about. You have to talk to the other candidate about the situation and decide together what to do.
What do I have to practise?
Expressing and justifying opinions, speculating, comparing and contrasting, agreeing and/or disagreeing, etc.
How long do we have to speak?
About 7 minutes.
  • Listening

Part 1 (Gap-filling)

What’s in Part 1?
A monologue of 2-3 minutes which contains some information. To answer the questions, you may have to take notes or complete sentences using a word or a short phrase (up to three words).
What do I have to practise?
Listening for and noting specific information.
How many questions are there?
12
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 2

What’s in Part 2?
Five short monologues linked by theme or topic, from five different speakers, followed by two tasks which relate to the content and purpose of the monologues. You listen to the recordings and you then have to match each speaker to one of the items (A-H) in Task One and one of the items (A-H) in Task Two.
What do I have to practise?
Listening to identify topic, context, function, speaker’s opinion, etc.
How many questions are there?
10
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 3 (Multiple-choice)

What’s in Part 3?
A conversation/interview/discussion between two or more people and some multiple-choice questions. You listen to the recording and you have to choose the correct answer from three options (A, B or C).
What do I have to practise?
Listening for gist, specific information, attitudes, etc.
How many questions are there?
8
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.
  • Writing

Part 1

What’s in Part 1?
A guided writing task. You have to write a short report (memo or email) based on some input in the form of graphs, bar charts or pie charts.
What do I have to practise?
Analysing graphic information and expressing it in words: describing or comparing figures, making inferences.
How many questions are there?
One compulsory question.
How much do I have to write?
120-140 words.

Part 2

What’s in Part 2?
A choice of three questions (2-4): a piece of business correspondence (letter, fax or email), a report (memo or email), or a proposal (memo or email). For the question you choose, you have to read some input material which describes a situation and write the specified response.
What do I have to practise?
Writing a report (describing, summarising), correspondence (explaining, apologising, reassuring, complaining) or a proposal (describing, summarising, recommending, persuading).
How many questions are there?
One question from a choice of three.
How much do I have to write?
200-250 words
  • Reading

Part 1 (Matching)

What’s in Part 1?
Either a single text which is divided into sections or five short, related texts and a series of statements. You have to match each statement to the section or text where you can find the information.
What do I have to practise?
Reading for gist and global meaning.
How many questions are there?
8
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 2 (Matching)

What’s in Part 2?
A text with six numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing sentence, followed by some sentences (A-H). You have to read the text and the sentences and decide which sentence best fits each gap.
What do I have to practise?
Reading for structure and detail.
How many questions are there?
6
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What’s in Part 3?
A text followed by some multiple-choice questions. The questions may be either questions or incomplete sentences. For each question, there are four options and you have to choose A, B, C or D.
What do I have to practise?
Understanding general points and specific details.
How many questions are there?
6
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 4 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What’s in Part 4?
A text with some numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing word. You have to choose the right word for each gap from four options (A, B, C or D).
What do I have to practise?
Reading – vocabulary and structure.
How many questions are there?
10
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 5 (Open cloze)

What’s in Part 5?
A text with some numbered gaps, each of which represents a missing word. You have to identify the right word for each gap.
What do I have to practise?
Reading – structure and discourse features.
How many questions are there?
10
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.

Part 6 (Proof reading)

What’s in Part 6?
A text in which some lines are correct and some lines have an extra, unnecessary word. If the line is correct, you write ‘CORRECT’ on your Answer Sheet. If the line is not correct, you have to write the extra word down.
What do I have to practise?
Reading – understanding sentence structure, error identification.
How many questions are there?
12
How many marks do I get?
One mark for each correct answer.
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Responses

  1. Good research Cecilia. You’ve saved my time. Thanks

  2. Hello teacher!! Thank you for give me the opportunity to learn english in this course.
    I´m very excited about this course. I hope to learn a lot of and to be a good student!!
    I will hope to speak fluent and overcome my fears with Oral English.
    See you Wednesday!!
    ALBA TAMAYO

  3. My pleasure Alba. I hope you enjoy this course and you learn a lot this year.

  4. Hello! Marisa, thank you for job, you give and open the new opportunity for our life.I like this course, I know, I need do very hard work, but I like the result after this course.I will hope to speak and write of English( fluent). Thanks for the information of the BEC. See you on Monday. Vanda.

  5. Thank you Vanda, I’m glad you like it!


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