The Difference Between the Trinity and Cambridge Exams

¿Cambridge or Trinity?

There are many different organizations that issue official English exams, and each organization offers many levels and specializations. The two most popular organizing entities are Cambridge University and Trinity College. Both of these are educational institutions with headquarters located in the south of England. Therefore, the English in both Cambridge’s exams and Trinity’s exams is primarily British English.

Cambridge or Trinity Exam- (3)

In this article, we are going to focus on the differences between the Cambridge exams and the Trinity exams. We will cover other official English exams in later blog entries.

Cambridge and Trinity: what’s the same?

First of all, it’s important to note that both type of exams are rigorous and officially recognized in many countries all over the world. Certificates from both are equally valid.

Additionally, both measure various skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking. And both exams give your level of English according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Therefore, when choosing an exam, there’s no “wrong” option. Either one is fine.

Cambridge and Trinity: what’s different?

Having said that, there are some differences that may lead you to choose one exam over the other. Before we explore those differences, let’s look at what levels each exam offers.


cambridge exam

Cambridge exam certificates are accepted by more than 20,000 companies and educational institutions in 130 countries.

Cambridge offers a range of exams for children at the pre-A1, A1, and A2 levels (Starters, Movers, and Flyers, respectively). However, as our focus here is on adult exams, we will skip an in-depth discussion of those exams.

For adult learners, Cambridge offers the following General English exams:

Exam Level Sections Length
Key (KET) A2 Reading and Writing, Listening, Speaking About 2 hours
Preliminary (PET) B1 Reading and Writing, Listening, Speaking About 2 hours and 20 minutes
First (FCE) B2 Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking About 3 hours and 30 minutes
Advanced (CAE) C1 Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking About 4 hours
Proficiency (CPE) C2 Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking About 4 hours

Additionally, Cambridge offers a suite of three Business English Certificates at the B1, B2, and C1 levels, as well as exams specific to Legal English and Financial English.

Which level is right for you? Take the test.



Trinity exam

Certificates from the Trinity exam ISE suite are recognized in hundreds of academic institutions in the UK and around the world. ISE and GESE exams are recognized by UK Visas and Immigration.

You may be confused already; Trinity has more different types of exams than Cambridge, and each type has its own abbreviation. Let’s look at the various Trinity exams and what they are useful for:

Exam Suite Number of Exams & Levels Covered Focus of the Exam
Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) 12 exams, from A1 to C2 level Focused exclusively on listening and speaking; designed to complement general English language courses, and focus on building confidence and motivation in English language communication.
Integrated Skills in English (ISE) 5 exams: ISE Foundation (A2), ISE I (B1), ISE II (B2), ISE III (C1), and ISE IV (C2). Two sections: Reading & Writing, and Speaking & Listening. About 2 and a half hours in length, depending on the exam.
Spoken English for Work (SEW) 4 exams: B1, B2, B2+, and C1. SEW is designed to test spoken English in work situations. The exam is comprised of three parts: telephone tasks, a topic presentation, and a discussion.


The exam that you choose depends on what you need it for.


Read more about how to measure your level of English

The difference between a CV, Resume and Cover Letter

Why you should study English

Looking for a teacher to help you prepare an exam? Find a teacher at for private in-person English classes in Spain.



  1. Hola ando un poco perdida a ver si me podéis ayudar ¿que libro me puedo comprar para preparar el ISE III con todo su vocabulario que entra y gramática? Gracias. Un saludo!!

    • ¡Hola Paula! Si estás buscando cómo prerar el ISE III, echa un vistazo en su web: Ahí tienes más información sobre el modelo del examen y las partes en las que deberías trabajar. Si quieres un libro con todo, te recomendamos el de Macmillan Education Oficial ISE II: Reading & Writing. Además, te recomendamos que tengas siempre a mano un buen diccionario, completo (puede ser online, como el de Cambridge). Esperamos haber sido de ayuda. Un saludo!

  2. Veo que no os habéis mojado en decir cual es más fácil de aprobar, más caro, caduca antes, etc… cosas que interesan bastante a la gente.

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