CEPA & EMSA English


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Program Description

CEPA & EMSA English

English Training Lounge - The Professional's Choice

Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (CEPA) and External Measure of Student Achievement, (EMSA) are a set of locally-developed standardised tests used for admissions and placement by all federal institutions of higher and further education in the United Arab Emirates: ADVETI, Zayed University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, and UAE University.

The CEPA is produced by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific research as part of NAPO (National Admissions and Placement Office) and EMSA by the Abu Dhabi Education Council. There are two exams for the CEPA and EMSA. The English examinations test basic English proficiency, and the Mathematics measures basic math skills. Both the English and the Maths exams are administered in two formats: paper-based (with scanned answer sheets) and computer-based for the CEPA and computer-based only for the EMSA. English Training Lounge offers full CEPA and EMSA- English training and tuition and can also arrange for mathematics tuition if needed. It is also important to keep in mind that the EMSA also has a Science section. This is often, but not always integrated into the Mathematics section of the exam.

(We strongly advise you research this before you begin and mathematical or scientific EMSA tuition courses.)

Abu Dhabi Vocational Educational Training Institute, Zayed University, the Higher Colleges of Technology and UAE University all follow an English language taught curriculum. This is to say the majority of teaching takes place using the English language. Each of these institutions has a foundation or academic bridge programme designed to help students increase their level of English to the level required for further or higher education. CEPA and EMSA scores indicate which, if any, level of English course is necessary for each student who sits either exam. All teachers on the ADVETI Foundation English Programme are native, first language English speakers. All students wishing to study at ADVETI will be required to sit the CEPA or EMSA in order to gain a place at any of the ADVETI campuses in the UAE.

The CEPA & EMSA Scoring Method

The multiple-choice section of CEPA and EMSA-English exams is scored using IRT (Item Response Theory) three parameter modeling. Each test version is linked to previous versions, and new parameters are gathered during large administrations. The raw responses are scored using these parameters. A formula is then applied to convert the resulting numbers into CEPA or EMSA scores, ranging from 90 to 210. The Writing Section is double-blind marked by local English teachers from the three federal institutions. The bands range from 0(blank, no attempt) to 6. The scores are then mediated, employing multi-faceted Rasch measurement. Undecided scores (e.g. from high rater disagreement) or jagged profiles are reviewed by the exam staff.

CEPA & EMSA-English Score Descriptors

CEPA & EMSA-English Overview

Grammar and Vocabulary

CEPA & EMSA-English tests English Grammar and Vocabulary proficiency using multiple-choice sentence-completion questions. There are 45 grammar questions, which cover a wide range of basic English structures. There are 40 vocabulary questions, testing the most common words of English, drawn from modified word lists, such as the General Service List, as well as academically-oriented words drawn from a modified Academic Word List. (Taken from The UAE Ministry of Education CEPA-English outline)


The Reading Section of CEPA and EMSA-English includes one visual, non-linear text (such as an advertisement) and two descriptive, narrative, or expository texts of about 400 words each. Vocabulary level is kept to approximately the first 2000 words. The questions on the Reading Section are all multiple-choice, and test students’ ability to identify the main idea of the text, find simple factual details, identify pronoun references, or make inferences about the text. (Taken from The UAE Ministry of Education CEPA-English outline)


There is one task in the Writing Section of the exam. Typically, the test-taker is given a prompt eliciting an opinion about a general or local issue. The prompt is given in English and Arabic, and topics vary across versions. The recommended time for the Writing Section is about 30 minutes, in which the test-taker is expected to produce 150-200 words of original text. (Taken from The UAE Ministry of Education CEPA-English outline)

As with all ETL courses, we offer flexible training times, including evenings and weekends if needed.

English Training Lounge, CEPA & EMSA - English Preparation Programmes

The ETL Approach to CEPA and EMSA - English

Due to the way the CEPA and EMSA exams are designed, English Training Lounge believes the most effective way to prepare for either exam is to follow a grammar-based learning programme. ETL concentrate on basic English grammar when tutoring candidates. We look to basic English vocabulary, understanding how the words work, their tense and semantics. The majority of both the CEPA and EMSA - English exams concentrate on the student's understanding of basic English use, covering all skills.

CEPA & EMSA - English Exam Preparation Course includes:

  • Understanding sentence structure
  • Understanding tense forms, how they are made and why
  • Examining parts of speech and vocabulary
  • Reading texts and identifying parts of paragraphs and finding keywords to form answers

English Training Lounge, 'CEPA - English Training

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Last updated Jul 2018

About the School

At English Training Lounge we understand that the modern world does not stop simply because we need it to! This is why ETL offers an English language school that is as flexible as you need it to be. W ... Read More

At English Training Lounge we understand that the modern world does not stop simply because we need it to! This is why ETL offers an English language school that is as flexible as you need it to be. We deliver English language training at a time and location of your choosing! We are not a 9 to 5 English as a second school because we know that life is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Read less
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