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Skills for Life Level 1

Skills for Life is changing.

Please go to the ESOL Skills for Life (QCF) page for information on preparing and booking the new QCF Skills for Life exams from January 2015. The information on this page relates to the older NQF framework exams.


Level 1 is suitable for learners who can do things such as:

  • discuss unfamiliar situations and topics; adapt speech to audience and context; present information in a logical sequence
  • read and understand texts on a variety of unfamiliar topics (eg articles, reports; advertisements); produce texts in a variety of styles and formats to suit the purpose and audience (eg informal correspondence, completing a job application form, producing short reports)
  • use language items such as: imbedded questions; reported speech; simple passive; conditional sentences; complex adverbial phrases; range of connectives; use of apostrophes/ bullet points/ dashes

Level 1 can be taken as a standalone Speaking & Listening exam or a four-skills exam in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Download a one page overview of the exam structure (PDF, 190KB) 

Download the Level 1 syllabus (PDF, 116KB) 


Speaking and listening exam videos

These were filmed under real exam conditions with genuine candidates – they’re not model performances. You should have the marks and rationales document (PDF, 427KB) to hand, as it contains the marks awarded to each candidate and explains the reasons for awarding the marks. The Speaking and Listening Performance Descriptors (PDF, 196KB) are what Trinity examiners use to assess a candidate’s performance against the syllabus requirements.



The exams have changed slightly since the older videos were made so their content may not match the current syllabus exactly.


Role-plays and group discussion

Candidates at have to perform a role-play task and a group discussion task. Download specimen role-play and group discussion tasks (PDF, 280KB) to practise with students. 


Reading tests

Trinity has developed new Level 1 and Level 2 reading tests to replace the National Literacy Tests (NLTs) at these levels. These are available until August 2014.

The new tests take the form of a 60 minute exam paper taken under controlled conditions at a Trinity registered exam centre. At both levels, the exam paper has four tasks containing a total of 30 items.

You can download the test specifications and sample papers below.

Test specification (PDF, 601KB)

Sample paper 1 (PDF, 558KB) and mark scheme (PDF, 397KB)

Sample paper 2 (PDF, 543KB) and mark scheme (PDF, 400KB)

Sample answer sheet (PDF, 400KB)


Writing: past papers

July 2012 paper (PDF, 69KB)

June 2010 paper (PDF, 40KB)

June 2009 paper (PDF, 51KB)

You’ll find older papers in our resource archive.


Writing: sample answers

Candidate G (PDF, 398KB)

Candidate H (PDF, 213KB)

These are genuine candidate answers, not model answers. Review them together with the marks and rationales document (PDF, 355KB). This contains the marks awarded to each candidate and explains the reasons for awarding the marks.

The Writing Exam Performance Descriptors (PDF, 438KB) are what Trinity markers use to assess a candidate’s performance against the syllabus requirements.

ESOL Skills for Life: Level 1 is fully accredited by Ofqual – download the Ofqual qualification titles and codes (PDF, 230KB)

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