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Q. What skills does ISE test?

A. Trinity’s Integrated Skills in English (ISE) contains two exam modules: Reading & Writing and Speaking & Listening. ISE assesses students’ ability to interact in English in an authentic and meaningful way, through integrated reading and writing exam tasks and integrated speaking and listening tasks.


Q. How long is the exam?

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

... and why is Reading & Writing 2 hours for all levels?

A. Test trials demonstrated that 2 hours is the appropriate length for candidates to engage with the test at all levels. A key focus for writing is on the development of process writing skills, where candidates are encouraged to plan (unmarked), write and then review their work. This approach to writing is relevant to the academic context in which the test takes place and requires time.

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.


Q. Where can people take ISE?

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

  • a Trinity Registered Exam Centre (visit Trinity Worldwide for details of local Trinity representatives who can tell you about registered centres in your area).
  • a Secure English Language Test (SELT) centre in the UK.


Q. Can the exam modules be taken separately?

A. Candidates can take Reading & Writing (R&W) and Speaking & Listening (S&L) modules at different times when they are ready (unless ISE is being taken as a SELT test in the UK, see * below). Please note: 

  • Candidates must pass BOTH modules at the same level to achieve a full ISE qualification certificate. Eg 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).

  • Both modules can be booked to be taken in the same academic year (1 September – 31 August) for the current fee but if the second module is not taken in the same academic year 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.

* Currently, when taken as SELT test in the UK for visa purposes, both ISE modules must be taken on the same day.


Q. What are the fees and exam dates?

A. Please visit either:

  • Your local country website to find out about Trinity exam fees in your country. You may need to contact the local country representative if the fees are not on the webpage.
  • Exam dates and administration for ISE Reading & Writing exam dates and information about booking examiner visits for Speaking & Listening sessions.
  • Tests for UKVI if you need to take this exam as a SELT in the UK


Q. When do certificates arrive? 

  • Certificates a usually despatched within 8 weeks of the exam when both modules have been passed and results have been approved.
  • Certificate timings are different when ISE is taken as a SELT test in the UK. See tests for UKVI for details. 


Q. Where can I find ISE teaching materials?

A. You can find a range of resources from our website. These include: Guides for teachers and for students, sample past papers, classroom activities, audio listening tasks, illustrative videos and example Schemes of Work course templates. Find them via the website pages below:

ISE Foundation (A2) | ISE I (B1) | ISE II (B2) | ISE III (C1) | ISE IV (C2)


Q. Are there course books available for ISE?

A. In addition to Trinity teaching resources and Schemes of Work, some publishers provide course books that are suitable for ISE. Find these in the publications section of the website.


Q. I’m a student – where can I find practice materials?

  • 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.


Q. I’m a student – what must I be able to do in the exam?

A. There is a Guide for Students at each level of ISE. Read the section called ‘What is the examiner testing’ in the Guide for your level (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.


Q. What is the difference between ISE levels A2-C1 at task level?

  • 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.


Q. Is the preparation for the written task marked?

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


Q. Are ISE qualifications recognised by government and education institutions?

A. Trinity College London is recognised by exams regulator Ofqual and its ISE qualification is recognised around the world as reliable evidence of English language proficiency. Visit Recognition for more information.

Trinity and IELTS are the only two exam boards recognised 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.


Q. Why is ISE IV (C2) different to the other levels?

A. Recently revised and updated, the format for ISE Foundation (A2) to ISE III (C1) changed during 2015. ISE IV (C2) is not yet available in the revised format, but continues to be available in the original format. For enquiries about ISE IV please contact your local Trinity representative.


Q. Why was the portfolio task removed from the exam (except for ISE IV)?

A. It was established that the portfolio element could be more usefully harnessed as a teaching and classroom support tool to facilitate the development of process writing skills outside of the test. We therefore provide a portfolio toolkit resource for teachers, to help develop the types of process writing skills which are needed for study in English and which are targeted in the ISE test.


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