FAQS for ISE (paper edition)

Trinity’s ISE has two exam modules: Reading & Writing and Speaking & Listening. ISE assesses the ability to interact in English in an authentic and meaningful way, through integrated reading and writing exam tasks and integrated speaking and listening tasks.

Exams must be taken in a Trinity registered exam centre, either: 

The Reading & Writing exam module takes 2 hours (all levels) and the Speaking & Listening exam takes 13–25 minutes depending on the level.

  • Contact your local representative and/or find fees published on many local country pages
  • Visit Trinity SELT for fees for SELT tests for visa applications in the UK.

  • Fixed dates for Reading & Writing tests are published on our website here
  • Dates for Speaking & Listening tests should be arranged with your local representative.

The test format is 2 hours at higher levels in addition to lower levels, because the difficulty and the length of tasks increase as the levels go up. Candidates are encouraged to take as long as they need to finish the paper with the allotted 2 hours, though some candidates will not use the full 2 hours at all levels.

Candidates can take Reading & Writing and Speaking & Listening modules at different times when they are ready (unless ISE is being taken as a SELT test in a SELT Centre in the UK, in which case they must take both modules on the same day).

No. Candidates must pass BOTH modules at the same level to achieve a full ISE qualification certificate. For example, passing a B1 level R&W and a B2 S&L would entitle the candidate to individual B1 or B2 module certificates but NOT a full ISE qualification. To achieve the full qualification, candidates must pass both R&W and S&L at the same level (both at level B1 or both at level B2).

  • If the second module is not taken in the same academic year (1 September to 31 August) the fee must be paid again.
  • Each module can be booked separately in different months or years (and even in different exam centres) but it is important to remember that the same candidate number must be used each time in order to achieve a full certificate when both modules have been passed.

  • Certificates are usually sent within 8 weeks of the exam when both modules have been passed and results have been approved.
  • Certificate are usually sent within 21 days when ISE is taken as a SELT test in the UK.

On this website you can find guides for teachers and for students, sample past papers, classroom activities, audio listening tasks, illustrative videos and example coursework Schemes of Work, along with lots of other guidance and resources.

See ISE levels and resources for further details.

Several publishers offer Trinity-approved course books and course mappings that are suitable for ISE preparation. Find these in the ISE Publisher resources section of the website.

See also the example 10 week 'Schemes of Work' course of work for each exam level. These include guidance and classroom activities, and are available in the Guides resource area of the ISE section of our website.

  • Visit ISE student information to find ISE guidance and practice materials.
  • Tip: Also look at the general ISE resource area for the level of ISE that you are taking. Here you will find lots of information, ideas and activities used by teachers that you can also use for self-study.
  • If you are taking ISE as a SELT for visa purposes in the UK visit here, select the correct ISE CEFR level, then click on ‘Prepare for your exam’. Note: SELT and non-SELT exams are the same except that, for ISE as a SELT, you must take both parts on the same day and you get a single ISE certificate when you pass both modules.

There is a Guide for Students for each level of ISE. Read the section called ‘What is the examiner testing’ in the Guide for your level (A1, A2, B1, B2 or C1) to find out what you need to show that you can do in the exam. More detail on this is also available in the ‘Candidate profile’ sections of the Guides for Teachers.

  • Trinity College London is recognised by exams regulator Ofqual and its ISE qualification is recognised by governments and institutions around the world as reliable evidence of English language proficiency. Visit Recognition for more information.
  • Trinity has been selected by the Home Office as a provider of Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) for visa purposes in the UK. Visit our UK visa tests pages for more information.

The exam format for ISE Foundation (A2), ISE I (B1), ISE II (B2) and ISE III (C1) was revised in 2015.

ISE IV (C2) continues to be available in its original format. For enquiries about ISE IV please contact your local Trinity representative.

ISE A1 (A1) was introduced in 2023.

  • the complexity of input texts for reading, reading into writing and listening increases with level
  • the complexity level of the language functions targeted and expressed increase with level
  • the cognitive skills required to successfully engage with a task increase with level
  • the complexity of the vocabulary used increased with level
  • the level of support which is offered with each of the tasks decreases with level
  • the type of task which is used can vary across levels

For more detail on these discriminating factors, refer to the Guides for Teachers and specifications on our ISE website page for each module and level.

No, it is included to reflect and encourage the development of writing skills.

Candidates can choose between American English and British English spelling conventions. Regardless of which convention they choose, they must use it consistently.

Candidates are assessed on how intelligible they are. They do not need to copy any particular accent of first-language English speakers.

Keep in touch

Make sure you don’t miss the latest news from Trinity College London. Sign up for email updates about your subject area.

Back to top