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About the Trinity Integrated Skills in English (ISE II) exam
Trinity's (ISE) examinations assess all four language skills – Speaking, Writing, Listening and Reading.
The ISE II exam corresponds to B2 level on the CEFR and is considered to be comparable to an IELTS band 6.0 or Cambridge ESOL FCE.
The UKBA approve this exam for use in Tier 2 (Religious Workers), and Tier 4 (Student studying at degree level), visa applications.
The exam has 3 parts:
You are required to produce 3 pieces of written work before the exam date. These should be selected from a list of tasks supplied by Trinity College London.
- Controlled written exam (2 hours), composed of 2 tasks:
Task 1 - Reading into writing task (250 words)
Task 2 - A writing task (250 words)
- Spoken Interview:
This is a one-to-one, face-to-face interview with a Trinity examiner.
The interview will last 12 minutes and is in three parts:
- Discussion of a topic (up to 4 mins) which you must choose and prepare beforehand.
- Interactive Task (up to 4 mins)
- Conversation with the examiner (up to 4 mins), including a discussion of your portfolio AND one of the following topics: society and living standards, personal values and ideals, the world of work, unexplained phenomena and events, national environmental concerns, public figures past and present.
We would advise candidates to attend an ISE II Preparation class before taking the examination. However it is possible to enter without attending classes beforehand.
Preparing for the Trinity ISE II examination – Guidelines for candidates
To prepare for the ISE II examination you can to use Trinity website. A student's study book which can help you prepare is available to buy in our SHOP.
On the website you can access all the documentation associated with the three components of the ISE II examination outlined below. You can also look at the ISE Syllabus for more detailed information about the ISE II examination and how to prepare. Read the ISE II section of the syllabus to give you the best possible chance of passing your exam.
The exam components :
This is a collection of your best written work. The tasks you choose MUST be selected from the list of ISE II tasks for 2014
(Please make sure you use the correct list of tasks for this year). You must present three tasks - one task from each of the three sections on the list. You must not include more than three tasks in your portfolio. The portfolio MUST contain your own work. Present these three pieces of work on three separate pieces of paper. You can use dictionaries, online resources and a word-processor to ensure that you are presenting the best quality work you can. The portfolio must contain your own work and no one else's. You may quote other work in it, but this must be clearly referred to as a quotation and attributed to its author. Candidates must NOT copy a piece of written text from any source and present it as their own. Candidates who do so will score zero in the assessment of the task. Accurate word counts must be provided for each task and clearly stated on the portfolio cover sheet. Please write out the task descriptions on the portfolio cover sheet in the separate sections provided for each task.
Trinity recommends that you spend 6-12 weeks preparing your portfolio, but the overall time it takes will depend on other demands on your time. Students can work on their portfolio tasks up to the day before their interviews are due to take place.
The completed portfolio must be ready for submission by 9am on the day of the exam.
On the Trinity website you can download examples of portfolio tasks with assessors’ comments to help you to prepare for this part of the examination.
Subject areas for this part of the examination are: Festivals, means of transport, special occasions, entertainment, music and personal experiences.
2. Controlled Written Examination
The controlled written examination is a test of your reading and writing skills taken under examination conditions. The examination starts at 10am and the time allowed is 2 hours. You must arrive at the centre by 9.00am. If you arrive later than this you will not be able to take the exam and you will lose your place. The use of dictionaries and other language aids is not permitted. You must write in blue or black pen and you may not use correction fluid.
ISE 2 has two written tasks that have equal weighting. You must complete BOTH tasks. There is no choice given.
TASK 1 – Reading into writing task (approx 250 words): You are required to evaluate arguments from an authentic text or texts and then develop a written argument (either a report or an article) based on the information provided.
TASK 2 – Writing Task (approx 250 words): The task is similar to portfolio tasks at this level. At ISE 2 you are expected to show sensitivity to the needs of certain readers and choose appropriate register. The task requires you to produce a letter, e-mail, report, article, review, or a piece of creative or descriptive writing.
Managing the time available during the examination is your responsibility, but we suggest that you spend 60 minutes on each task. Please be aware of the need, within the time available, to organise your thinking and writing as well as paying attention to grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation.
On the support pages for the Controlled Written examination you will find resources to help you plan and prepare for the Controlled Written examination.
The following resources are available:
- Overview of the Controlled Written examination
- Definitions of different text types
- Past exam papers for practice
- Sample candidate answers for reference
- Markers’ assessment criteria
- Markers’ tips for improving performance
Subject areas for this part of the examination are: education, national customs, village and city life, national and local produce and products, early memories, pollution and recycling.
3. Spoken Interview
This is a one-to-one, face-to-face interview with a Trinity examiner.
The interview will last 12 minutes and has three parts:
i) Discussion of a topic (up to 4 mins) which you must choose and prepare beforehand.
- Before the spoken interview, you should prepare your topic on a subject you are personally interested in, knowledgeable about and able to talk about. This topic should NOT be chosen from the list of subject areas for the conversation (part iii), see below) or linked to any tasks in the portfolio. You should prepare enough material to lead a discussion of the topic for up to 4 minutes. You should not try to memorise what you are going to say. You should be ready to answer the examiner’s questions about your topic. You may bring some brief notes, mind maps or diagrams into the examination room and a copy should be given to the examiner. At ISE 2 the candidate is responsible for engaging the examiner in a discussion of the topic and must be prepared to ask and answer questions.
- Please note, a candidate who fails to prepare a topic cannot be assessed and this will result in a fail being awarded for the whole examination.
ii) Interactive Task (up to 4 mins)
- During the interactive phase, the examiner will provide an oral prompt to which you have to respond by asking questions or making comments. Once the examiner has set up the situation, you are responsible for maintaining the interaction.
- Here are some sample interactive prompts that you can download to help you.
iii) Conversation with the examiner (up to 4 mins), including a discussion of your portfolio AND one of the following topics: society and living standards, personal values and ideals, the world of work, unexplained phenomena and events, national environmental concerns, public figures past and present.
- During part 3 of the interview you must be ready to discuss your portfolio and explain why you chose to do particular tasks. You must ask the examiner at least one question about the content of your portfolio (but you must not ask questions about the examiner’s opinion of your work).
- You will also discuss one of the subject areas above and should ask the examiner one question about the subject in this section.
Sample ISE II interviews can be found on the Trinity website: Sample ISE II interviews. Watch the ISE II videos for Leonardo, Eros, Federica and Luca. From this link, also read the ISE DVD Assessment and Rationales 2010-2013 document to understand how each of these candidates was marked by the examiner and what grade each candidate received and how they could have scored a higher grade; note why they didn’t receive higher marks. Study these notes carefully, alongside reading the ISE II section of the syllabus (available above) to fully understand what is required in your ISE spoken interview. Read these documents and watch the videos together as part of your preparation. Remember, these interviews are not scripted and they are never exactly the same. Viewing these videos together with the two documents listed will give you the best chance of passing in this section of the exam; but they should be used together. With these videos, you can see the structure of the interview and see the kind of interaction between the candidate and the examiner so you know what to expect when you are in the interview.
We strongly recommend that you read the ISE II section of the ISE Syllabus for all parts of this exam in order to be fully prepared.