PART 1: READING Trinity vs Cambridge

ISE Trinity vs Cambridge Exams - is Trinity easier than cambridge is cambridge more difficult than Trinity Reading-02

A. “Readability”

Many formulas have been devised by linguistic experts to calculate the difficulty of a text. The most common formulas use a combination of criteria such as :

  • the average sentence length
  • the average number of polysyllabic words
  • the average number of characters in each word

Each formula has its proponents and detractors. For the purpose of this study, the seven most common formulas will be used, and the average readability score will be taken to determine the difficulty of each reading exam.

READABILITY FORMULAS

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level


Gunning-Fog Score

Coleman-Liau Index

SMOG Index

Automated Readability Index

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade, Gunning-Fog, Coleman-Liau, SMOG, and the ARI all express their difficulty scores as a grade in the American education system.

For example:

American Grade Ages UK Grade
Kindergarten 5 Year 1
1st Grade 6 Year 2
2nd Grade 7 Year 3
3rd Grade 8 Year 4
4th Grade 9 Year 5
5th Grade 10 Year 6
6th Grade 11 Year 7
7th Grade 12 Year 8
8th Grade 13 Year 9
Freshman (9th Grade) 14 Year 10
Sophomore (10th Grade) 15 Year 11
Junior (11th Grade) 16 Year 12
Senior (12th Grade) 17 Year 13

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease

Although similar to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade level test, in that word length and sentence length are given importance, the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease has different weighting factors. In the Flesch reading ease test, higher scores indicate material that is easier to read.)

Score School Level Notes
90+ 5th grade Very easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
80+ 6th grade Easy to read. Conversational English for consumers.
70+ 7th grade Fairly easy to read.
60+ 8th & 9th grade Plain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.
50+ 10th to 12th grade Fairly difficult to read.
30+ College Difficult to read.
0-30 College Graduate Very difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.

 

As reference, the Harry Potter series averages a Flesch score of 72.83, so an 11-12-year-old 7th grader can read it.

Spache Score

The method compares words in a text to a set list of everyday words. The number of words per sentence and the percentage of unfamiliar words determine the reading age.

It uses a list of 3000 words that groups of fourth-grade American students could reliably understand, considering any word not on that list to be difficult.

The Results

Red indicates difficult. Green indicates easy

ISE Trinity vs Cambridge Exams - Reading Exams - Readability

B1: ISE I vs PET

Trinity ISE I is easier than Cambridge PET by almost 1 high school year.

B2: ISE II vs FCE

Cambridge FCE is easier than Trinity ISE II than more than 2 high school years.

C1: ISE III vs CAE

Trinity ISE III is slightly easier to read than Cambridge CAE.

B. CEFR Vocabulary Profile

English Profile is an online tool which can map the CEFR classifications of the words in a text. If a text has a larger proportion of A1-A2 (low level) vocabulary, it can be fairly deemed to be easier to read.

As reference, if a 10’000 word sample from Ulysses, by James Joyce, is analised, only 28% of the words are A1-A2.

The Results

ISE Trinity vs Cambridge Exams - Reading Exams - A1-A2 vocabulary percentage

B1: ISE I vs PET

The % of basic vocabulary is almost exactly the same.

B2: ISE II vs FCE

The % of basic vocabulary is almost exactly the same.

C1: ISE III vs CAE

There is a huge difference in the level of vocabulary. The Trinity ISE III exams have similar levels to the B2 exams (around 50 % A1-A2), whereas Cambridge CAE only has 35%.

C. Words per minute

The average number of words per exam / the number of minutes allowed to complete the exam = the number of words that are expected to be read per minute,
ISE Trinity vs Cambridge Exams - Reading Exams - words per minute

B1: ISE I vs PET

Trinity ISE I is easier than Cambridge PET. Although 10 words a minute may not seem like a great amount, it still represents a 50% difference when compared to Trinity ISE I.

B2: ISE II vs FCE

Almost the same

C1: ISE III vs CAE

Almost the same

Final Reading Exam Verdict

B1: ISE I vs PET

Trinity ISE I is easier than Cambridge PET.

The readability formulas all calculate PET as on average, 1 year more advanced than ISE I. Although the percentage of basic vocabulary is the same, a PET candidate is expected to read 50% more words per minute than an ISE I candidate.

B2: ISE II vs FCE

Cambridge FCE is easier than Trinity ISE II.

The sentence complexity in Trinity ISE II is 2 years more advanced than Cambridge FCE.

C1: ISE III vs CAE

Trinity ISE III is easier than Cambridge CAE.

The vocabulary in CAE is more advanced than ISE III.

 

 

NEXT: PART 2 – LISTENING 

PREVIOUS: INTRODUCTION




For ISE Trinity training resources: https://fingertipsenglish.com/trinity/
For Cambridge training resources: https://cefrexambot.com