Pre A1 Starters

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The first Cambridge English Young Learners exam

Pre-A1 Starters, also known as Cambridge English: Starters (YLE Starters), is the first of three qualifications designed specifically for children between the ages of 7 and 12, and marks the start of a child's English language learning journey. This exam introduces them to everyday spoken and written English in a fun and encouraging way and helps build up confidence to progress towards A1 Movers and A2 Flyers.

Why take the Pre A1 Starters?

Conceived for school-aged children, this exam is based on familiar everyday themes and situations, developing the skills needed to communicate in English and teaching them to:

• understand simple sentences and respond to simple questions

• follow very simple and short stories; understand simple instructions

• understand very simple descriptions of familiar objects

• recognise the English alphabet, spell simple words, and name familiar people/things

• understand very short conversations; copy words, phrases and short sentences

At Pre A1 Starters there is no pass and fail. Each child receives a Cambridge English Certificate celebrating the exam's completion, building their confidence and rewarding them for the development of their English skills. A result of one shield means a child can improve a lot in that skill. Five shields mean that a child did very well in that skill and answered most questions correctly.

The back of the certificate shows how results align to the CEFR. If a child has achieved 4 or 5 shields in each skill, they are ready to start preparing for the next Cambridge English exam – A1 Movers.

What is the structure?

There are three parts: Listening, Reading and Writing, and Speaking. This last test is done with one examiner and one candidate.


  • Duration: about 20 minutes
  • Content: 4 parts with 20 questions
  • Marks: Maximum of 5 shields
  • Purpose: Listening for names and descriptions, listening for numbers and spelling, listening for specific information, listening for words, colours and prepositions.

Reading and Writing

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Content: 5 parts with 25 questions
  • Marks: Maximum of 5 shields
  • Purpose: Reading short sentences and recognising words, reading sentences about a picture, writ one-word answers, spelling single words, reading a text and writing missing words (nouns), reading questions about a picture story, writing one word answers.


  • Duration: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Content: 4 parts
  • Marks: Maximum of 5 shields
  • Content: Understanding and following spoken instructions, understanding and answering spoken questions.

Preparation material

Feel free to browse our range of official preparation materials and also the Cambridge English free resources and samples.

Are you not sure if this exam is right for your child? Test their level here.

How to enrol a child?

Any child can be enrolled individually directly through us, or they can take the test in their language school in case they're already taking English lessons. For more information on individual enrolments and special conditions for schools, please contact us. For confirmed exam dates, please visit our Exam Calendar.

How to assess your child's English level?

The Cambridge English Placement Test for Young Learners is an online diagnostic test designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12. It positions them at the correct English level in about 30 minutes. You can learn more about the diagnostic test by contacting us, or purchasing it directly here. 

Next exam sessions

Enrolment open
Paper Based
Exam date - Sunday, 15 September 2024
Estoril, Lisboa, Portugal
Enrolment Deadline - Friday, 2 August 2024, late enrolment deadline - Sunday, 1 September 2024 (+55.00 €)
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Enrolment open

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The exam center is very well located for those who live in Linha de Cascais and that was a plus for me. The staff members were very supportive and friendly. Also the facilities were clean and comfortable.

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