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B1 Preliminary

9 key information to remember

PET stands for Preliminary English Test. It’s known as the B1 Preliminary as well. It’s the second level in a series of English language proficiency exams that are developed and administered by Cambridge English. The PET assesses you at the B1 level of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) The B1 level of the CEFR is the low-intermediate level and if you pass the PET, it shows that you can do all the basic things needed when using English and some more complicated things as well.

Two versions of the PET exist; the regular version and the version that is directed at school-aged test-takers: B1 Preliminary for Schools. The level of difficulty is the same for both versions; however, the B1 preliminary for Schools contains questions and materials that revolve around topics and situations that a school-aged student would encounter or be expected to know.

Well, one reason to sit for the PET is that it tests you at a lower level. Exams such as TOEIC, IELTS or TOEFL are intended for university admissions or employment, requiring a high-level of English usage. Maybe, all you need to do is officially demonstrate command of basic, everyday English. Maybe, you are school-aged and want to verify your English ability, but don’t want to sit for a test that is targeted at adults, so you take the B1 Preliminary for Schools instead.

Another reason to take the PET is that it is recognized around the world and very well-regarded, so you will have excellent proof that you have mastered the basics of English and have practical language skills for everyday use.

The PET consists of four sections that are meant to assess a person’s English skills in the major areas of use: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Take a look at the chart below for some of the details of each section.


Length of Time


Marks (% of the total)


45 minutes

6 parts/

32 questions in total



45 minutes

2 parts/ 2 questions in total



30 minutes

4 parts/ 25 questions in total



12-17 minutes

4 parts


The total length of the PET is approximately two and a quarter hours, so you will need to get used to working in English for that amount of time when you are preparing.

What is each section for?


This section shows that a person can read and understand the main ideas from signs, newspapers and magazines.


This section shows a person can use vocabulary and structure correctly, but you are not expected to be able to use complex verb tenses or have a wide range of vocabulary.


This section shows that a person is able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials such as announcements and discussions that are about everyday life.


This section shows how well a person can speak English when taking part in a conversation by asking/answering questions and talking about topics such as likes and dislikes. There will be one or two other test candidates in the room with you in order to better simulate a conversation.

You receive a score for each section of the PET. This means that you get a reading score, a writing score, a listening score, and a speaking score. It will provide you with a good picture of your performance on the exam and your abilities with the different areas of language use.

The scores are averaged to provide you with an overall test result. This overall, averaged score is your Cambridge English Scale Score.

Additionally, every test candidate will receive a grade and a CEFR level. The results will appear in the official Statement of Results and contain the following information.

Cambridge English

Scale Score


CEFR Level











Level A2


Receiving your statement of results

Every candidate receives their Statement of Results. If you are successful on the exam (score 140 and above), then the candidate receives a certificate as well.

It is possible to see your Statement of Results online. The results become available four to six weeks after your exam day for paper-based exams. If you have taken the KET in the computer-based version, then the results will become available two to three weeks after your exam date.

If you score is 140 or higher, then you will be sent a certificate. However, scores between 120 and 139 are reported on your Statement of Results, but Cambridge English won’t send you a Preliminary English Test certificate.

Receiving a certificate for the KET

Cambridge English will send your certificate (if you are successful on the PET) to the exam centre where you wrote the tests. The exam centre should receive the certificate about 6-9 weeks after the exam date for the paper-based version and 5-6 weeks after the exam date for the computer-based version.

The exam centre will send the certificate to you, so make sure that they have your correct address. If you move, then it’s up to you to inform the exam centre of your new address. You could also inquire if the exam centre will let you drop by and pick-up your certificate. You would need to arrange pick-up with the exam centre as Cambridge English would not be involved.

In a nutshell, you need to prepare for each section of the exam.

For the listening section, listen to things that are going to occur on the exam. Looking at a practice exam first is a great way to find out what the types of things will be. You won’t be listening to a university lecture, so don’t practice by listening to lectures.

The writing on the PET does not require high-level essay skills, so don’t spend time writing practice essays. You need to be able to write an email or write part of a sentence a different way and keep the meaning the same. Know your grammar and how we can change word forms or verb tenses, but keep the meaning the same.

Watch the videos on YouTube for the PET speaking section (link is in the Resources section below). They will give you a clear picture of what you need to say, and what it’s like to do the speaking section.

For reading, you should familiarize yourself with the vocabulary list for the PET (link is in the Resources section below). Read things that appear on the exam such as newspaper articles, notices, etc. You don’t need to try and read a university textbook.

It’s a good idea to read about the three registration steps before you follow the link. It will help prepare you.

  • Select the exam you want
    Cambridge English has a lot of different exams. Be sure to select the correct one.
  • Find an exam centre that is near you
    You need to find an exam centre near you. There are more than 2,800 authorized exam centres in over 130 nations. It should be possible to find a centre that is relatively close to you.
    If you know of an exam centre, but it is not on the Cambridge English list, then it is probably not an authorized exam centre, so don’t use it.
  • Book your exam
    There are exam dates year round. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to get ready, so don’t book an exam for next week if you haven’t prepared yet. You can either choose a computer or a paper-based exam. Be aware that not all exam centres offer both kinds.

How much will it cost me?

Unfortunately, the information is not readily available. You need to contact your chosen exam centre and ask them as fees for the PET will vary somewhat due to currency differences and the local cost of living. An exam centre should not charge extra or special fees. The only fee should be for sitting the exam itself.

There are lots and lots of resources for the PET out there such as books and websites. Here are few that are good and will be of help to you.

This is a book from Cambridge English with official practice tests.

  • B1 Preliminary for Schools 1 for the Revised 2020 Exam Student's Book without Answers: Authentic Practice Tests (PET Practice Tests)

This book has looked at the common errors that test-takers make and helps you to overcome the mistakes.

  • Common Mistakes at PET...and How to Avoid Them

Also, drop by your public library and ask the librarian for advice.

YouTube has a load of videos showing different people participating in the PET speaking section. Be sure to watch the videos multiple times to really get a good grasp of what to say and the types of questions you will encounter.

Tip #1 What are your goals?

You need to ask yourself what you want to achieve by taking the PET. If you are about to spend many weeks studying for the PET, then you need to be clear what your goals are.

Write your goals on a piece of paper and say them out loud. Picture them and think how they will make your life better.

Tip #2 How much free time do you have?

Don’t study a lot for a while and then stop. Cramming really isn’t a reliable way to study for a big exam. Figure out how much time you have for the next three to six months. Be realistic in your estimate of free time because you need consistent time and effort.

Tip #3 Have you made a plan?

When you know what your goals are and the time that you have available, then you can make a plan. Traditional language courses work because they are planned by teachers and schools and follow a schedule with clear goals. You must do the same.

Tip #4 Where should you study?

A nice quiet space that is distraction free. Turn-off your mobile and don’t open social media during study times. We don’t learn effectively in a noisy, busy environment; multi-tasking is a bit of a myth. Focus on your studying and you will learn more. You could do this at home, or you might need to go to a library or find a space at school.

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We have practice materials, practice exams and loads of blogs with helpful info on a range of language exams such as the PET.

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