Cambridge English

Starters, also known as Young Learners English (YLE): Starters, is the first of three Cambridge English: Young Learners tests specifically designed for school children aged between 7 and 12. Cambridge English: Starters sets your child off on their language learning adventure, introducing them to everyday written and spoken English in a fun and motivating way.

Exam Overview

What's in the exam?

Paper Content Marks (% of Total)
Listening (about 20 minutes) 4 parts/20 questions a maximum of five shields
Reading & Writing (20 minutes) 5 parts/25 questions a maximum of five shields
Speaking (3–5 minutes) 5 parts a maximum of five shields

Give your child a head start in English

Real-life language skills

Cambridge English: Starters is the first of the three Cambridge English: Young Learners tests. The test is designed to be fun and motivating to give your child the confidence to show what they can do in English. It leads naturally to the next level of the test, Cambridge English: Movers, encouraging your child to make progress and develop their learning.

When children learn English, it is important that they learn English which is practical and useful. They also need to work towards international standards that will prepare them for study abroad or the international world of work.
The Cambridge English: Starters test is set just below Level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It lays the foundation for language learning, teaching practical language skills and offering a reliable and consistent measure of how well children are doing in the skills of listening, speaking and reading and writing.

Relevant for your child

Fun and stimulating

The Cambridge English: Young Learners tests are specially tailored to suit the interests of schoolchildren, so they increase their motivation to learn English. Because the tests are based on familiar topics and situations, they give your child the confidence to use their English and inspire them to do well.

At Cambridge ESOL, we believe that learning should not be stressful for children. By enjoying their studies, reading, listening and speaking in English come naturally. As their confidence develops, they will want to learn more and use English to a more challenging level.



Cambridge English exams cover all major varieties of English and are designed to be fair to users of all nationalities and linguistic backgrounds.

A wealth of materials is available with us to help you and your child prepare for the tests.

A Cambridge English certificate

Help prepare your child for Cambridge English: Starters

For children to take full advantage of the opportunities that tomorrow’s world of work will offer, knowledge of English is an important asset. It is, therefore, best for your child to work towards certificates that are accepted by thousands of educational organisations and employers throughout the world.

CSE English school – Negombo conducts exam preparation classes for teachers and learners for all Cambridge English exams. Come and talk to us for more information.

Starters : Listening (Approximately 20 minutes / 20 items)

There are four parts. Each part begins with one or two examples. All tasks are heard twice.

Parts Main skills focus Input Expected response Number of Questions
1 Listening for words and prepositions Picture and dialogue carry out instructions and position things correctly on a picture 5
2 listening for numbers and spelling Illustrated comprehension questions and dialogue Write numbers and names 5
3 Listening for specific information of various kinds option multiple choice pictures and dialogues Tick correct box under picture 5
4 Listening for words, colours and prepositions Picture and dialogue carry out instructions locate objects, and colour correctly ( range of colours is: black, blue, brown, green, grey, orange, pink, purple,red,yellow 5

Part 1

This is a test of five different lexical items – normally taken from two or three semantic fields. The context is provided by a picture, within which the objects are ‘placed’ by the candidate, who has to draw a line from the named object to a location within the picture. The information is conveyed by a dialogue between male and female adult speakers.

Part 2

This is a simple note-taking exercise, in which candidates hear a conversation between a child and an adult. There is one picture to set the context, and a comprehension question for each item. Each answer is either a name or a number. The numbers dictated can be written as digits or words. All names are spelled out letter by letter, and must be spelled correctly for the mark to be awarded.

Part 3

This task consists of five questions, each a three-option multiple- choice with pictures. Candidates listen to the information conveyed in five separate dialogues in which the speakers are clearly differentiated by age or gender. Candidates listen and tick the correct picture.

Part 4

This is a test of lexis, particularly names of colours, and prepositions of place. There is one large picture, and in it there are a number of examples of the same object. The candidate has to identify a certain object by listening to details of its position, and then colour it in correctly. The information is given in a dialogue between an adult and a child.

Starters : Reading & Writing (20 minutes/25 items)

There are five parts and each part begins with one or two examples. Correct spelling is required in all parts of the reading and Writing test.

Parts Main skills focus Input Expected response Number of Questions
1 Reading short sentences and recognizing words words pictures and sentences Tick or cross to show if sentence is true or false 5
2 Reading sentences about a picture. answers Pictures and sentences write ‘yes’/’no’ 5
3 Spelling of single words Pictures and a set of jumbled letters write words 5
4 Reading a text copying words story presented through three Pictures and questions Choose and copy missing words 5
5 Reading questions about a picture story. Write one- word answers story presented through three Pictures and questions write one – word answers questions 5

Part 1

In this task the candidate reads sentences. There are five statements, each accompanied by a picture, and the candidate has to place a tick in a box if the statement matches the picture, and a cross if it does not.

Part 2

Candidates look at a picture and five statements, some of which correctly describe the picture and some which do not. Candidates write ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as appropriate.

Part 3

This is a test of knowledge of words and spelling. There are five pictures of objects, each accompanied by the word for the object given as jumbled letters. The candidate must write the word for each object. Dashes indicate the number of letters in the answer.

Part 4

Candidates read a text and look at the words with pictures in a box below the text. They then copy the correct words in each of the five gaps. All missing words are singular or plural nouns. There are two extra words which candidates should not use.

Part 5

A story is told through three pictures, with five questions, each of which requires a one-word answer. The correct word may be a noun, verb or number.

Starters : Speaking (3- 5 minutes/ 5 parts)

The Speaking Test is a face-to-face test with one examiner and one candidate. It lasts approximately four minutes. The examiner’s language is scripted to ensure fairness to all candidates. The script gives examiners scope to offer help and encouragement.
Each child is taken into the test by an usher. This is someone who speaks the candidate’s first language and may be known to the child. The usher explains the test format in the child’s first language, before taking the child into the exam room and introducing them to the examiner.
The mark for the Speaking Test is based on ratings for interactive listening ability, production of words and phrases, and pronunciation.

Parts Main skills focus Input Expected response
1 Understanding and following spoken instructions Scene point to the correct part of the picture
2 Understanding and following spoken instructions Scene picture and eight small object cards Place object cards on the scene picture as directed
3 Understanding and answering spokenquestions Scene picture Answer questions with short answers
4 Understanding and answering spokenquestions Three object cards Answer questions with short answers
5 Understanding and responding to personal questions No visual prompts Answer questions with short answers

Part 1

The examiner greets the candidate and checks the candidate’s name. This part is unassessed.The examiner starts the test by demonstrating what is required and then asks the child to point to objects on the scene picture.

Part 2

The examiner asks the candidate to point to three object cards and gives instructions to place them in different locations on the scene picture.

Part 3

The examiner asks the candidate some questions about the scene picture.

Part 4

The examiner asks the candidate questions about three of the object cards.

Part 5

The examiner asks the candidate some personal questions on topics such as age, family, school and friend