What is the Aptis Exam?



Hello people from the English world!

Whether you are a teacher or a student you might have heard of the Aptis exam. Everyone seems to be talking about it at the moment here is Spain. But what is it?

Well, it is a new exam by the British council designed to help the students feel comfortable and relaxed (as relaxed as one can be during an exam…).

So today I am going to talk to you about 2 things: The advantages of this exam and it’s format.


The first thing you need to know is that the exam is entirely computer based. Which means that all of you out there scared to interact with other human beings (I feel you, I am the same sometimes) will not have to mentally prepare themselves for that. Every single part is done on the computer…even the speaking!

This exam is by the British Council…not a private company. So the focus here is NOT on making money and therefore the exam is quite a lot cheaper than other exams…sometimes half the price.

New exams tend to be easier. Let’s face it, this is not a myth. When a new exam comes out it has to be easier, there is no other way. The exam is still in ‘trial’ mode for around two years (those of you familiar with the Trinity exam will have noticed how much more difficult it is to pass the ISE now that it’s been 2 years since the big change). During those two years, the people behind the exam work on improving the content. But the thing is…if the word spreads out that an exam is too difficult, nobody is going to go for that exam. And a new exam needs to attract as many candidates as possible and spread the word that they are out there. So go for it guys! Now is your moment to pass the Aptis exam.

The format

The exam is composed of 5 parts (reading, writing, speaking, listening and then grammar and vocabulary). The exam is exactly the same wether you are trying to get a B1 or C2, which means some exercises are more difficult than others.


Now for scoring. Aptis is not very clear regarding the score needed to pass the levels. All that we know is that they do an average of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Once they have the average, they add the results of Grammar and Vocabulary. The good thing is that Grammar and Vocabulary are only included if it helps your score. So all of you who failed the Cambridge exam by just a few points (I find that a bit unfair but that’s how it is…) will NOT have that problem with Aptis.

Let’s have a look at the parts in detail:

     1) Speaking

Like I said before the exam is entirely computer based. The answers that you give are recorded on the laptop.

-Part 1: You will have 3 questions about yourself (ex: Tell me about your family / Describe your favourite dish…) and 30 seconds to answer each one.

-Part 2: There is one photo and 3 questions. Each question is answered in 45 seconds. The first question is always to describe, the second one tends to deals with details and the third one opinion.

-Part 3: This is the same as task 2, the only difference is that you get 2 photos and have to describe AND compare them in the first question (still 45 seconds per question).

-Part 4: You will get 1 photo, but the photo is mainly decoration, just a way to indicate what the topic is about. Then you get 3 questions, 1 minute to prepare and finally you have to answer all three questions at once in 2 minutes.

     2) Reading

The reading is composed of 4 tasks and lasts 30 minutes. The tasks are given in different orders to the candidates to avoid cheating.

  • One of the tasks consists of a gapped text with a word bank (there are more words than necessary).
  • Then there is another gapped text but this time you get three options per gap (similar to use of English part 1 in Cambridge).
  • The third type of task is a text divided in paragraphs and you are given sentences that explain what each paragraph is about. You have to match the sentences to the paragraphs.
  • The last task is a little text (often a mini biography) that you have to put back in order.

     3) Writing

Writing is the part where you need to get as many points as possible. I tell my students to aim for the level above in writing because it is almost the same for every exam. You want to sign up for a website or a service, and then there is a change in the service provided and have to write about those changes.

-Part 1: Here, you basically fill in a box with information about yourself (ex: Username, address, things that you like…). You have 3 minutes.

-Part 2: You write a short text about you (20 to 30 words), usually a description of why you signed up for the services. This is basically setting up your profile. This lasts 7 minutes.

-Part 3: You are in the chatroom of the website and have to answer 3 questions asked by another user. Each question is 30 to 40 words and all 3 questions must be answered in 10 min.

-Part 4: There are actually 2 tasks here. Let’s call them A and B. In task A you are informed of a change in the services provided (usually some kind of fee increase and/or a cancellation of a meeting) and you have to write a letter to a friend (INFORMAL) expressing your feelings and possible alternatives. Task A is 10 minutes and you have to write 50 words. Then task B is basically the same but it is a formal letter usually addressed to the manager of the website. It lasts 20 minutes and you have to write between 120 and 150 words.

     4) Listening

You are going to like this type of listening. Each recording is roughly 30 seconds and you have around 28 questions to answer. Every question is multiple choice. The listening exam lasts between 20 and 40 minutes (depending on how fast you are).

     5) Grammar and vocabulary

The grammar and vocabulary task consists of 60 multiple choice questions that you have to answer in 30 minutes. Now remember, it is the same exam for every level, so DON’T panic if there are quite a few questions you don’t know, it is normal. The exam is designed to test people of different levels so some questions are more appropriate for A2 but others for C1.

Alright! Now you should know a bit more about the Aptis examination (hopefully). I will write more about it in the future and I’ll also make a few videos so stay posted if you are interested in this exam!

That’s it for today guys…Keep on learning! Xoxo

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