EF Standard English Test: Complete Guide

The EF SET, known as the EF Standard English Test, is one of the fastest, easiest, and budget-friendly language tests. It is the first free online English standardized language assessment test that caters to all levels. 

If you are looking for a reliable and well-designed language assessment test, you may want to take the EF SET for your listening and reading skills. Moreover, this test is very accessible and trusted by universities and private organizations. 

To help you learn more about the EF SET, we have created this detailed article for you. 

What is EF SET?

The EF Standard English Test (EF SET) is an English language proficiency exam intended for non-native English speakers. Primarily, the EF SET is used for internal assessments. 

And it is also a low-cost English assessment test that can be used as an alternative for those other expensive English language proficiency tests available in the market. 

The EF company, known as the Education First, developed the EF SET, and it was launched to the public in 2014. It is an international education company that focuses on language training, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. 

A state-of-the-art platform created the EF SET, and it is also supported by top experts in the language assessment field, professional psychometricians, and large-scale testing bodies.

The EF SET is a fully designed standardized language test, especially for individuals to support their English language learning. In addition to that, the EF SET also supports all levels of learners ranging from beginner to advanced levels. 

Moreover, the EF SET is also widely used by universities and companies to test their students’ and employees’ English language skills.  And also, the test is not proctored, so there is no interlocutor present when you take the exam. And it also means that no one will be able to check whether or not you cheated while taking the test. 

So this is why that the university or the admission office and the organizations that will use the EF SET test will be the ones to proctor or supervise the exam. 

And also, the EF SET validity is closely compared to those widely used standardized English language proficiency exams, which include the following tests, the TOEFL, IELTS, and the Cambridge International Exams.


Why Take the EF SET?

The EF SET goal is to give the public a reliable, easy-to-use, accessible English proficiency test. And it is the first free online English standardized language proficiency test currently available. Plus, you can get your test results in less than 50 minutes after taking it. 

It is an accurate English language assessment tool available online, and the EF SET is available free for everyone. You can easily access the EF SET using your computer, laptop, tablet, or even on your mobile phone. Make sure that you have a stable internet connection so you can take it anywhere you like, may it be in the comfort of your home or even in your office.  

In addition to that, the EF SET is validated by hundreds of test-takers, professionals, and experts of English language assessments worldwide. So you do not have to worry about the validity of the test because language assessment experts create it. 

How much Does the EF SET Cost?

One of the great features EF SET offers to its test-takers is that the test itself is for free. So you can get an accurate assessment of your English language proficiency without spending any money. 


Where is the EF SET Accepted??

The EF SET test result and certification are not yet used or accepted for university admissions or visa applications. However, it is presently used by educational institutions to test their students’ English skills. And also, companies are using this to assess the English skills of their employees as well. 

You can also use the EF SET as a tool to assess your English skills. Note that the EF SET is a standardized English language test, and the test results are equally reliable as the TOEFL test and the IELTS exam.  It simply means that the EF SET result provides supplemental data to verify your English proficiency.

The EF SET has already served 2,500 plus companies and more than 700 schools. They offer accessible and reliable English assessments solutions to these mentioned institutions. So long as they will be able to provide proctors for the EF SET themselves. 

You still do not need to worry about it because taking the EF SET will help you prepare for any English language proficiency test you may have to take in the future. The EF SET scores also have their equivalent to CEFR levels, TOEFL, and IELTS.


EF SET Exam Format and Test Structure

The EF SET assesses your reading and listening skills. There are two versions for the test. If you want a shorter version, you may take the EF SET Quick English Check, lasting fifteen minutes. And if you opt for the EF SET with a certificate, you can take the 50-minute EF SET English Certificate. 

Read on below to find out more about the test structure of the EF SET and its two versions. 

There are two EF SET test versions:

  • EF SET Quick English Check, a fifteen-minute English language assessment test.
  • EF SET English Certificate, which is a 50-minute long test. 

Let’s learn more about each of these test types.

1. EF SET Quick English Check

EF SET Quick English Check

The EF SET Quick English Check version takes only 15 minutes to complete. This version of the EF SET assesses your reading skills which include English grammar and vocabulary skills. It also tests your listening skills and how well you can comprehend information from audio clips. 

There are 20 questions in the EF SET  Quick English Check. The test will start with the reading section, and it contains ten multiple-choice questions. The listening section follows it shortly, wherein ten short audio clips are presented, and then ten multiple-choice questions follow it. 

After completing all the 20 questions, you can view your test scores for the EF SET. However, you need to fill out an information form used for academic research purposes on English learning. 

You will not receive an EF SET certification for this version, but you can still receive your overall test results for your reading and listening skills. 

Sample Questions for Reading Section:

EF SET Quick English Check Sample Questions for Reading Section 2

Sample Questions for Listening Section:

EF SET Quick English Check Sample Questions for Listening Section
EF SET Quick English Check Sample Questions for Listening Section 2
EF SET Quick English Check Sample Questions for Listening Section 3

Information Form for EF SET Quick English Check:


2. EF SET English Certificate

EF SET Full English Test

The EF SET English Certificate is the full version of the EF SET. The duration of this test is approximately one hour. There are two sections in this version, the reading and listening sections. Both of these sections last for 25 minutes for a total of 50 minutes, more or less. 

Note that once you click next, you cannot go back to the previous questions. However, you will also not lose points once you get wrong answers. 

You will receive an EF SET Certificate once you complete this test. Plus, you can also add this certificate to your LinkedIn profile. The EF SET Certificate is free, and you will get a personalized URL for it. This test is an accurate assessment of your two English skills, including listening and reading skills. 

The EF SET results align with the CEFR levels and other English language proficiency exams such as the TOEFL and IELTS. 

This version of the EF SET is also free, but you need to create an account before proceeding with this version. You can create an account using your Facebook, Google, LinkedIn accounts and using email.

Reading Section for EF SET English Certificate

For the reading section of the EF SET English Certificate, there are different questions for this version. It uses multiple-choice, completing the paragraph, reading passages, and emails. And it also tests your abilities in grammar, word formation, and reading comprehension. Before starting the EF SET English Certificate, a welcome message will appear on your screen about the test. 

Welcome Screen for EF SET English Certificate:

EF SET English Certificate - Reading Section Welcome Screen

There are 2 Test Parts of the Listening Section:

  • Part 1: Reading Section – Sentence Completion
  • Part 2: Reading Section – Passages
  • Part 3: Reading Section – Reading Email
Part 1: Reading Section – Sentence Completion

The first part of the reading section is a sentence completion type of exam. You are given six sentences wherein you need to provide words or phrases to complete the sentences. There are choices for this part. 

Sample Questions for Reading Part 1 – 6 Questions (Sentence Completion):

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 1 - 6 Questions
EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 1 - 6 Questions 2
EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 1 - 6 Questions 3
EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 1 - 6 Questions 4
Part 2: Reading Section – Passages

The second part of the reading section is about reading passages. Two passages will be presented, and there are also six statements on the side regarding the selections. 

Your task is to choose the correct selection for the given statements, and it is also a multiple-choice type of question. This part of the EF SET assesses your ability in reading comprehension and matching information. 

Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 – Passages:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 - Passages
Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 - Passages 2

Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 – Passages (6 Statements):

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 - Passages 2
EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 2 - Passages 3
Part 3: Reading Section – Reading Email

The next task you will encounter in the reading section is reading an email. You will need to read the two emails provided and answer the questions that follow. 

There are eight multiple-choice questions for part 3 for each email, with a total of 16 questions for it.  The goal of this part is to assess your ability in reading comprehension. 

Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 – Reading Email:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 - Reading Email

Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 – Reading Email:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 - Reading Email 2

Sample Questions for Reading Part 3- Reading Email:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 - Reading Email 4

Sample Questions for Reading Part 3- Reading Email:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Reading Part 3 - Reading Email 4

Listening Section for EF SET English Certificate

For the listening section of the EF SET English Certificate, you will listen to a couple of recordings.  There is also the multiple-choice type of questions that you need to answer. 

Before starting the EF SET English Certificate listening section, a welcome message will appear on your screen, containing instructions for the listening part of the EF SET English Certificate test. 

There are 2 Test Parts of the Listening Section:

  • Part 1: Listening Section – Recorded Announcements
  • Part 2: Listening Section – Recorded Conversations 
Part 1: Listening Section – Recorded Announcements

In the first part of the listening section, there are six different recorded announcements presented. The duration of each audio clip is about one minute and thirty seconds, and it will also be played two times. 

Your task in this part is to match the corresponding announcements correctly, and there are also choices provided. This part of the test assesses your listening skills and comprehension. 

After finishing the first set of six announcements, another group of six recordings with multiple-choice questions follows it. 

Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 – Listening to Announcements:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 - Listening to Announcements
EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 - Listening to Announcements 2

Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 – Listening to Announcements:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 - Listening to Announcements 3

Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 – Listening to Announcements:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 - Listening to Announcements 4
Part 2: Listening Section – Recorded Conversations 

The second part of the listening questions is somehow the same as part one, wherein you need to listen to an audio clip presented. However, 20 different recorded conversations are presented here, while only 12 audio recordings are in part one. 

These 20 recordings are divided into two batches, and there will be ten recorded conversations with ten multiple-choice questions for the first batch that you need to listen to and answer. 

It is then followed by the remaining ten recorded conversations with follow-up questions. The duration of each audio clip is about one minute and thirty seconds, and it will also be played two times. 

Your task in part two for the listening section is to predict the best response to the recorded conversations you have listened to, and choices are provided. This part of the test assesses your listening skills, comprehension, and your ability to respond accordingly to given situations. 

Sample Questions for Listening Part 2 – Listening to Announcements:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 1 - Listening to Announcements 6

Sample Questions for Listening Part 2 – Listening to Conversations:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 2 - Listening to Conversations

Sample Questions for Listening Part 2 – Listening to Announcements:

EF SET English Certificate Sample Questions for Listening Part 2 - Listening to Conversations 2

Before you get to view your reF SET English Certificate results, you need to provide the necessary information on this form. 

Information Form for EF SET English Certificate:


How Does the Scoring for EF SET Work?

The EF Standard English Test (EF SET) uses a scale of 0 to 100 overall average for the reading and listening sections. The average score for the EF SET is also comparable to the expensive and commonly used English language proficiency tests in the market, such as TOEFL and IELTS. The EF SET scores can also be equivalent to CEFR levels.  

EF SET ScoreLanguage Proficiency LevelDescriptions 
100 – 71Proficient Level 
  • The individual at this level can easily understand and communicate with ease. And one also establishes spontaneity and precision in using the English language. 
  • Can also understand any types of written and spoken forms of English. 
70 – 61 Advanced Level 
  • The individual at this level has the ability to infer implicit meaning.
  • And one can also use the English language with flexibility in social and professional settings. 
60 – 51Upper-Intermediate Level 
  • The individual has the ability to interpret and comprehend complex topics which contain concrete and abstract details. 
  • One can also produce complex contexts using the English language. 
50 – 41Intermediate Level 
  • The individual has the ability to deal with familiar situations in using the language. 
  • And one can also use the English language frequently in work and other day-to-day activities.  
40 – 31Elementary Level 
  • The individual at this level can simply understand and interact using the language. 
  • And one can only use those common, day-to-day phrases and sentences, such as those featured in advertisements, daily conversations, greetings, and the likes. 
  • One also has enough set of vocabulary for the language. 
30 – 0Beginner 
  • The individual at this level can understand simple English phrases and sentences, especially those used in daily activities. 
  • One has only a limited set of vocabulary and consistently commits errors in using the English language.

How Does EF SET Scores Compare to Other English Language Proficiency Tests?

Here is a comparison table for the EF SET scores compared to CEFR Levels, TOEFL and IELTS. 

EF SET Language CertificateCEFR LevelCEFR Level DescriptorsTOEFLIELTSDescription
1 – 30 A1BeginnerN/AN/A
  • The individual at this level has the ability to understand familiar everyday words, expressions, greetings, and very basic phrases. 
  • One can also provide a little information using the English language. 
31 – 40A2ElementaryN/AN/A
  • The individual at this level can understand simple English sentences and those frequently used common expressions. 
  • One can also give clear information about directions, routine work, and personal details. 
41 – 50B1Intermediate57 to 864.0 to 5.0
  • The individual has the ability to understand the main points of a statement or a written context. 
  • One also establishes comprehension regarding routine matters that are regularly encountered in school, work, and community. 
51 – 60 B2Upper-Intermediate87 to 995.5 to 6.0
  • The individual can understand the main idea of a complex written context or speech.
  • And one can also identify and comprehend abstract ideas and topics. 
  • One can also have technical discussions about a topic in his field of expertise. 
61 – 70 C1Advanced100 to 1096.5 to 7.5
  • At this level, one has the ability to comprehend a wide range of contexts. And one can also understand complex and demanding sentences and speeches. 
  • One can also recognize implicit or nuanced meanings.
  • The individual also has an excellent set of vocabulary. 
  • The individual also shows fluency in using the English language.  
71 – 100C2Proficient110 to 1208.0 to 9.0
  • The individual shows mastery of the English language at this level. One can easily communicate and use the language in written or spoken forms. 
  • One also has the ability to read with ease complex materials, such as articles, manuals, literally works, and the likes. 
  • One also speaks the language like a native speaker. And one also shows fluency when using the language, with excellent precision, and can reconstruct arguments spontaneously. 
  • And one can handle more complex situations and is also able to summarize information from different sources. 

EF SET  Exam Dates and Locations

You can retake the EF SET as many times as you can. It is considered and intended to be a learning tool for its test-takers so you can take advantage of using the test for your progress. Note that the EF SET does not reveal the correct answers to their test takers that is why you can retake the test repeatedly. 

To register for the EF SET, you can easily visit their website and create an account for free, meaning you can take the test without spending any money. And since the EF SET is a free online English assessment test, you take it anytime you want or when you need to check your language proficiency progress. 

You can instantly receive the test results right after the EF SET, either the EF SET Quick English Check (fifteen-minute EF SET version) or the EF SET English Certificate (50-minute EF SET version).  

EF Set Certificate

How to Prepare for the EF SET?

The EF SET is not a demanding English test compared to other frequently used language proficiency exams such as the TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and the likes. 

It means that it does not need extensive preparation, plus you can retake it again and again until you are satisfied with your test scores. 

To prepare for the EF SET exam, here are some of the easiest ways for you to get ready for this one. 

1. Improve Your Listening and Reading Skills

Since the EF SET only assesses your listening and reading skills, you need to focus on these English skills. To start, you need to listen to audio clips, such as podcasts and radio news. You can also do listening while reading the texts and the likes to improve your listening skills. 

Focus is also essential to improve this skill, and it is also advisable to expose yourself to the different accents of English speakers. In addition, it will help you understand and easily grasp the contexts of the speaker or the audio clip you are listening to. 

Next is to learn more slang and other commonly used English terms. Usually, these are used in daily conversations and also those unfamiliar English terms. You can also learn pronunciations of English words, both common and those difficult to understand spoken words. 

To improve your reading skills, you need to focus on grammar, comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling. To start, you can do daily reading, schedule a time every day for your reading tasks. 

You may read articles, essays, or anything that interests you. The goal here is to have some material that you can read about. Use context clues, learn to summarize what you are reading, and take note of those words that you find difficult to understand. Finally, and most importantly, learn to grasp the author’s viewpoint or opinion and the message of the context. 

2. Secure An Excellent Internet Connection

Since the EF SET is an online test, you need a steady and fast internet connection. You can do a practice test first to test if your internet does not lag while taking the EF SET. You can also run a speed test for your internet connection. There are a couple of free speed tests available online, and you can just search for them. 

And if you are sure and confident that you have a steady internet connection, you can now directly proceed to take the EF SET version you want. However, if you are not satisfied with your test scores, you can retake the EF SET anytime you want. 

3. Take Some Practice Tests

Just like any other test, taking practice tests is always one of the best and effective ways to prepare for any tests. Taking practice tests will help you get comfortable answering the test, and it will also help you with your speed in answering.

The more practice tests you take, the more you are exposed to different types of test structures, and in that way, you will be more prepared to take the actual test next time. 

However, in the case of the EF SET, most people do not take any practice test beforehand. Note that the EF SET is not very difficult and demanding compared to the other language tests available in the market. But it is still your choice whether or not you will take some practice tests in preparation for EF SET. 


FAQs on the EF SET

Is the EF SET Reliable?

Yes, the EF SET is highly reliable and was designed with the same high standards as the other standardized English language tests available in the market, such as TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and more. 

Is the EF SET Certificate Valuable?

The EF SET Certificate is internationally recognized. Note that the EF SET is considered one of the first free standardized English tests suitable for all learners at any level. 
Plus, the test is an adaptive English test that covers the beginner and advanced levels. The EF SET score scale is also comparable to CEFR levels.

What is a Good EF SET Score?

A good EF SET score is between 70 to 100, equivalent to C2 to C1 CEFR levels. However, if you did not reach these scores for your first take of the EF SET, you can retake the test and see if your scores improved. 

Is EF SET Test Free?

Yes, the EF SET is the world’s first free online standardized English language test. Plus, the test is an excellent substitute for the other standardized English language tests. Universities and companies widely use it internally to test their students’ and candidates’ English language proficiency. 

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