What is the Trinity GESE Exam?

It is a Graded Exam in Spoken English (GESE), so don’t worry about difficult gap-fill questions or long, tedious essays. It is an opportunity to show off your communication skills (both speaking and listening) and receive feedback.  

The exam is approved by the UK government for settlement and visa application purposes when it is taken at an approved Trinity Secure English language Tests (SELT) center. It is also useful for students wanting to obtain a certificate at the close of study-abroad programs in the UK, one example being the Italian PON-funded program.

Trinity Exams are regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and are evaluated according to uniform standards recognized all over the world.

Who is it for?

The Trinity Exam is for anyone and everyone. The exam has no age limit. The unique exam format is meant to help develop English communication skills (speaking and listening) that can be used in real life situations. Therefore, it can be useful for any purpose such as seeking employment, applying to study programs, or simply to facilitate chatting with international friends.

What level of English should I have to take the exam?

The Trinity Exam is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for languages. You may be familiar with this level format which places language learners on a range between pre-A1 and C2 with C2 being the highest level.

The Trinity GESE Exam has 12 levels ranging in Grades from 1 – 12, each corresponding to a different CEFR level. Due to this progressive format, learners at any skill level can take the exam.

How is the Trinity Exam organized?

The exam is organized in what are called Grades. Each Grade (1-12) corresponds to a CEFR level. The examiner will be listening for the required language skills appropriate for the level at which the exam is being performed. The examinee earns “points” when they use the target language (vocabulary, grammar, etc.).

  • Grades 1 – 3: Initial Stage, Pre-A1 – A2.1
  • Grades 4 – 6: Elementary Stage, A2.2 – B1.2
  • Grades 7 – 9: Intermediate Stage, B2.1 – B2.3
  • Grades 10 – 12: Advanced Stage, C1.1 – C2

The discussion topics and tasks will vary depending on whether the examinee is an adult or a young learner.

The number of tasks an examinee will encounter vary depending on the level at which they will take the examiner. Lower levels (as seen in the below illustration) will only concentrate on the task of conversation while the higher levels must face all 5 tasks listed below:


  • Listening Task: The examiner reads 3 texts accompanied by 2 comprehension tasks.
  • Topic Presentation: Formal presentation of a topic selected by the candidate.
  • Topic Discussion: Discussion (Q and A) of a topic selected by the candidate.
  • Interactive Task: Unprompted, collaborative interaction between the candidate and examiner.
  • Conversation: Exchange of ideas and opinions on 2 areas of discussion chosen by the examiner.

The duration of the exam will depend on the Grade and level at which it is being performed.
For example:

  • Grade 1 – Pre-A1: 5 minutes
  • Grade 2 – A1: 6 minutes
  • Grade 3 – A2.1: 7 minutes

The exam is formulated to stimulate real-life communication in a relaxed and comfortable setting meant to encourage learners to speak freely.

Here is an example of a Grade 4, A2-level exam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F740yTJF7VU

How is the Trinity GESE Exam scored?

The exam is a scored based on what skills a speaker has and not on the ones they don’t have. “Points” are given when the examinee uses the target language, but not deducted when they make errors as errors are factored in depending on the level at which the exam is being performed (for example, a lower level is expected to make many errors whereas a higher level should rarely make any).

The exam is assessed based on the candidate’s performance in relation to the skills and language requirements appropriate for the grade level at which they took they exam. A letter grade (A – D) is given for each exam task.

The examiners will have what is called a Performance Descriptor. This document will contain explanations of the required tasks and how to determine if these tasks have been fulfilled.

Here is an example of a performance descriptor for Grades 1-3: https://www.trinitycollege.com/resource/?id=2504 

There are four results a candidate can get for any Trinity GESE exam:

  • Pass with Distinction
  • Pass with Merit
  • Pass
  • Fail

What materials do I need?

The best way to face the Trinity GESE Exam is by having all of the information necessary for the exam itself. Here is a good resource containing all of the exam information: https://www.trinitycollege.com/resource/?id=5755 

Here is a list of books approved as suitable resources for the preparation of the Trinity GESE exam: https://www.trinitycollege.com/qualifications/english-language/publisher-resources

Where should I register for the Trinity Exam?

Some schools offer the Trinity Exam for their students and will therefore organize the process in regard to fees, registration, and preparation.

Otherwise, in order to book your exam, you will need to contact your local Trinity Exam representative as the fees and exam details may vary between countries and locations.