The Advanced Level Certificate in English (ALCE™) is a standardized 4-skill test at the advanced level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR C1 and C2). It is a secure exam developed by the Hellenic American University and administered by authorized test centers worldwide.
The Hellenic American University Advanced Level Certificate in English (ALCE) is a standardized examination designed for candidates who wish to obtain certification of their competency in English as a second or other language at advanced level. The ALCE examination is aimed at the C1 and C2 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
The ALCE examination tests communicative competence in all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as tasks which test grammatical resources. There is no separate vocabulary section, as vocabulary resources are tested through all tasks in all sections.
Listening (30 items)
Part 1 (6 items) (multiple choice): One monologue and one dialogue: each is heard twice, and each is followed by three questions. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.
Part 2 (7 items) (multiple choice): Interview: one dialogue, heard twice, with seven questions relating to the main idea of each part of the interview. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.
Part 3 (10 items) (multiple choice): Group discussion: presenter describes a proposal, and 4 speakers express their views on it. One discussion heard twice, accompanied by ten questions. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.
Part 4 (7 items) (multiple choice): A talk: a monologue heard twice, accompanied by seven questions, each with three answer choices.
Listening section duration: 40 min. (approx.)
Reading & Use of Language (50 items)
Task 1 (10 items): Editing: One text: five of the ten numbered sentences in the text contain a language error. Candidates decide which five sentences contain an error, paying attention to the underlined part of each sentence.
Task 2 (10 items): Identifying the best grammar / vocabulary / discourse option for gaps in a cloze text: Two short cloze texts, each with five multiple-choice questions. Candidates complete each gap in the texts by choosing from four possible answer choices.
Task 3 (10 items) Reading for main ideas: Candidates read one text comprising seven paragraphs. The first seven questions concern the main idea of each paragraph, while the last three compare information from different paragraphs. Candidates choose the correct answer to each question from four answer choices.
Task 4 (10 items) Reading to understand details: Candidates read one text, usually on a scientific or academic topic, accompanied by ten questions, each with four answer choices. The questions test detailed understanding of the text, including identifying meaning from context.
Task 5 (10 items) Reading to understand viewpoints in an argumentative text: An argumentative text followed by ten multiple-choice questions with four answer choices. The first six questions concern viewpoints expressed in the text, while the other four questions concern discourse features.
Reading & Use of Language section duration: 75 minutes
Writing (1 task)
Candidates choose one from a choice of two possible tasks. Both tasks comprise an argumentative essay, in which the candidate argues a case based on at least two of the prompts provided.
Writing section duration: 45 minutes
Speaking (3 tasks)
Task 1: Warm Up: Candidates answer non-sensitive personal questions.
Task 2: Topic questions: Candidates answer two to three questions on a topic, supported by prompts for each question.
Task 3: Arguing a case: Candidates are given the context for a controversial issue, as well as points for each side. They are expected to choose one side and argue their case effectively.
Speaking section duration: 8 min. (approx.)
The first three sections (Listening, RUL, and Writing) constitute the written part of the exam and are administered on the same day. The fourth part, the speaking test is administered on a different date, preceding or following the written section.
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The four sections of the Hellenic American University Advanced Level Certificate in English (ALCE) examination are scored using an advanced mathematical model, Item Response Theory (IRT).
For each section of the examination, raw scores are converted into scaled scores ranging from 0 to 100. Scaled scores allow each administration of the examination to be equated, ensuring that the ability required to pass or to achieve a high score remains the same from one administration to the next.
For the Listening and RUL Sections, scaled scores are a product of the ability of each candidate and the difficulty of each item in these sections. To pass the Listening or RUL section at C1 level, candidates must have a scaled score of at least 55 out of 100 for that section. This means candidates should aim for a minimum raw score of at least 16 for the Listening section and 27 for the RUL section to pass each section. For the C2 level, candidates must have a scaled score of at least 74 out of 100 for that section. This means candidates should aim for a minimum raw score of at least 22 for the Listening section and 37 for the RUL section to pass each section.
The Writing Section is scored out of a total of 15 marks. There are three criteria: Task Completion, Organization, and Linguistic Resources. Each criterion provides between one and five marks. Candidates who receive a total of 8 or more marks are awarded a Pass for this section of the test at C1 level, while those with a total of 11 or more marks are awarded a Pass at C2 level.
The Speaking Section is scored out of a total of 15 marks. There are three criteria: Task Completion, Fluency and Interaction, and Linguistic Resources. Each criterion provides between one and five marks. Candidates who receive a total of 8 or more marks are awarded a Pass for this section of the test at C1 level, while those with a total of 11 or more marks are awarded a Pass at C2 level.
The cut scores for each section of the ALCE examination have been determined through standard setting procedures, as laid out in the Council of Europe manual: ‘Relating Language Examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR): A Manual’ (2009).
Applying a mixed standard setting strategy, candidates who achieve an averaged total scaled score of at least 55 out of a possible 100 are awarded an ALCE Certificate at C1 level, while those who achieve an averaged total scaled score of at least 74 out of a possible 100 are awarded an ALCE certificate at C2 level. The ALCE Certificate is valid for the holder’s lifetime, with the proviso for test users that a candidate’s language ability may improve or deteriorate in relation to his or her contact with the language.
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