ESOL Step 1 and Step 2

Speaking and listening awards

Trinity’s ESOL Step 1 and Step 2 awards are designed for adults aged 16 and over living in the UK who have started to learn English but are not yet ready to take an ESOL Skills for Life Entry level qualification.

These speaking and listening exams provide students with the opportunity to mark learning progression while they build up the skills and confidence needed to take ESOL Skills for Life qualifications.

Assessments are held at Trinity registered exam centres. They can be taken on demand and are available at the same time as Trinity’s ESOL Skills for Life exams.

What learners achieve at this level

Learners who have achieved a Step 1 or Step 2 award can:

  • Understand what is said clearly, slowly and directly in simple everyday conversation with support
  • Communicate simple information on familiar matters
  • Use basic sentence patterns and simple phrases about themselves, places and other people

Full details of the language requirements for each level are detailed in the exam specifications.

Download the specifications

Exam format and timings

The format for Step 1 and Step 2 exams is a one-to-one conversation with a Trinity examiner. The examiner uses pictures, everyday objects and reference to the immediate surroundings to engage and prompt the candidate to demonstrate their English language communication skills by listening and responding to the examiner's questions verbally and through gestures and simple actions.

Exam timings

Step 1 — Five minutes
Step 2 — Six minutes

Performance descriptors

Download the performance descriptors used by examiners to assign marks to a candidate’s performance.

Download the descriptors

Regulatory information

Trinity's ESOL Step 1 and Step 2 awards are Trinity-certified pre-Entry level preliminary qualifications and are not regulated by Ofqual.



These videos show what the exam is like. They are not intended to show model exam performance.

Watch sample exam videos and use the explanatory assessment rationales  to see how they would have been marked:


Learning progression

Trinity's Step awards offer an ideal platform for further development before moving on to ESOL Skills for Life qualifications.

These ESOL qualifications are designed to aid progression and access into mainstream education and employment paths where English language skills are a requirement.

Professional support

  • We provide support for teachers and administrators, including free training and guidance for new centres and a dedicated named contact to answer enquiries about booking and preparing for the exams. See workshops and seminars

Teaching and learning resources

Activities for Integration



Additional classroom activities

Fees and booking information



Become a Trinity Registered Exam Centre

To run our ESOL Skills for Life exams you must be a Trinity Registered Exam Centre.

Did you know that Trinity Registered Exam Centres gain access to teacher support, study materials and teacher development, including leading teacher qualifications?

Discover the benefits of becoming a Trinity Registered Exam Centre  and learn how to apply.

Find out more

“Our students really love Steps. They get a great
sense of achievement and the certificate
lets them celebrate their progress.”

Taoufik Beldi
ESOL Coordinator, Leicester


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