Study Start English Test

What it tests

The Test has two sections – Use of English and Listening.

The Use of English section assesses students’ knowledge of grammatical form and vocabulary.

The Listening section assesses students’ general listening ability.

Both sections test how well students understand the meaning of what is being communicated, which is an excellent indicator of general language ability.

How it works

The Test is computer adaptive, which means that the test adjusts the difficulty of questions based on the student’s responses. This makes it more motivating and ensures that it gives a more precise measurement than traditional placement tests.

Students will need a computer with good internet access and headphones. For more details please see the System Requirements. If there is a break in internet connection during the test, the system will stop timing the test taker and continue when they sign in again to resume the test.

Test format

There are two sections in the test: Use of English and Listening, with separate scores for each.

Use of English

The Use of English section focuses on grammatical form and meaning.

Part 1 – Focus on form

Test takers read a short, gapped dialogue and then complete the dialogue by selecting one of four options.

Part 1 – Test takers complete a short dialogue with the appropriate grammatical form or lexical item.

Part 2 – Focus on meaning

Test takers need to understand the meaning communicated in a short dialogue. The meaning tested may be explicit, or it may be implied, where the meaning is understood from context.

Task 2.1

Part 2 – Test takers read a short dialogue and identify what a speaker means. Here the focus is on explicit meaning.

Task 2.2

Part 2 – Test takers read a short dialogue and identify what a speaker means. Here the focus is on implied meaning.

Part 3 — Focus on form and meaning

Task 3.1

Part 3 – For A1-C2 level tasks, the test taker reads a gapped text and types in the missing words.

Task 3.2

Part 3 – For Pre-A1 level tasks, the test taker selects, rather than types, their answers.


The Listening section tests how well students can understand communication in different contexts (such as university lectures, going shopping, and business meetings), depending on the CEFR level. There is a focus on explicit and implied meaning. Test takers can listen to each recording twice.

Listening 2
Listening 3