The Michigan State University - Certificate of English Language Competency (MSU-CELC)

The Certificate of English Language Competency Examination from Michigan State University is a four-section test designed to assess English language ability at the B2 Level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) in all four modalities (Writing, Listening, Reading, and Speaking). MSU-CELC is written by professional test developers who create new examinations for each MSU-CELC administration.

Special features of MSU-CELC include the following:

  • The test uses everyday English as it is spoken and written around the world.
  • Each speaking and writing sample is scored by a minimum of two raters.
  • Previewing questions during the listening comprehension portion of the exam is allowed, and some extra time is provided for that purpose in Parts 2 and 3 of the listening section.
  • Longer listening passages are played twice.
  • The MSU-CELC (http://www.msu-exams.gr//) website includes a full-length practice test and information on test preparation.
  • Scores are reported for each section—Writing, Listening, Reading, and Speaking
  • Aggregate scoring is allowed—a total score of 60 is passing so long as no more than one section is failed and the failing score is no less than 12 (15/25 is passing for each section).
  • Results are normally available within 30 days.

The exam has four main sections: Writing Ability, Listening Ability, Reading Ability, and Speaking Ability. The Writing Ability section consists of an essay component and a multiple-choice grammar test. The listening, reading and grammar tests are in the multiple choice format.


Each section is scored on a scale from 0-25, so that 100 total points are possible. A total score of not less than 60 is required to pass. The essays are rated by highly trained, professional raters, as are the oral interviews. MSU-CELC scores are normally available within 30 days of taking the exam.

Writing Ability25 points possible
Listening Ability25 points possible
Reading Ability25 points possible
Speaking Ability 25 points possible
Total Score100 points possible [60 is passing]

Each section of the examination (Writing, Listening, Reading, Speaking) is awarded 25 points for a maximum of 100. A total score of 60 and above is considered a “Pass” as long as a candidate receives 15 points or more on three of the four sections of the examination and no fewer than 12 points on any of the sections.  If a candidate receives below 15 points on two or more sections or less than 12 on any of the sections, he or she will not be awarded a “Pass” even if the total score received is 60 or above.

MSU-CELC Section Names

Section 1
Think about it—Write about it!
A test of English writing ability

Grammar you can use!
A test of English Grammar
(Note: This subsection is taken between Section 2 and Section 3)

Section 2
Listen to this!
A test of English listening ability

Section 3
Read about it!
A test of English reading ability

Section 4
Talk about it!
A test of English speaking ability

MSU-CELC Section 1:
Think about it—Write about it!
A test of English writing ability

Essay component of writing ability test
The MSU-CELC essay section offers you a choice of two prompts. You will choose one of the two prompts and respond in an essay developed and written to the best of your ability. For example, you may be asked to evaluate the effects of the pressure of choosing a career on young people. You will be given 35 minutes to write an essay. Your essay will then be evaluated by at least two trained, professional raters for development of ideas, organization and grammaticality, among other features of writing.

Grammar you can use!

Grammar component of writing ability test (immediately follows the listening test, before the reading test)
The MSU-CELC grammar test consists of 40 items that require test takers to demonstrate their knowledge of English verb tenses and aspects (e.g., past tense, present perfect aspect), clause formation, complement structures and other common features of English grammar. You will read a sentence that contains a gap somewhere in the sentence. You will choose among four options (a, b, c, d) to provide the best answer to complete the sentence grammatically. Test takers have 20 minutes to complete the grammar portion of the MSU-CELC.

MSU-CELC Section 2:
Listen to this!
A test of English listening ability

Listening Comprehension
The B2 MSU-CELC listening comprehension section consists of three parts: Part One contains short conversations (1 to 2 turns per speaker) followed by a single multiple-choice question, Part Two contains medium length conversations (2-3 turns per speaker) followed by three to five multiple-choice questions, and Part 3 consists of 2 extended dialogs or presentations followed by 8-12 questions each. For Parts 2 and 3 you will be able to preview the questions before you hear the conversations (extra time is provided for that purposes). The questions have only three possible answers. You will choose answers “a” or “b” or “c”. Part Three contains extended pieces of spoken communication such as in depth conversations, announcements or similar samples of everyday, spoken language. Not only will you be able to preview these questions and look at them while you listen to the passages, but you will hear these extended passages twice. The Part Three listening passages are followed by 8-12 multiple-choice questions. All listening passages are preceded by a brief descriptive phrase that tells the examinee the general topic and context of what they are about to hear. The listening comprehension section of the MSU-CELC exam takes approximately 45 minutes.

MSU-CELC Section 3:
Read about it!
A test of English reading ability

Reading Comprehension
The MSU-CELC reading comprehension section is comprised of four reading passages and 40 test items. Each passage is followed by 8-12 multiple choice questions, depending on the length or complexity of the passage. The questions have four possible answers. You will choose answers “a” or “b” or “c” or “d”. Question types include comprehension (from main idea to discrete points of information), inference, vocabulary, and structure/logic questions (e.g., a sentence insertion question). Test takers have 55 minutes to complete the reading comprehension portion of the MSU-CELC.

MSU-CELC Section 4:
Talk about it!
A test of English speaking ability

Oral Interview
The MSU-CELC Oral Interview is a guided 10-12 minute interview with multiple parts. Two examiners will sit with each candidate and evaluate the performance. The interview begins with a one-minute warm-up section (not scored) followed by six tasks that have been confirmed at the B2 level in the CEFR framework. The types of tasks on the speaking test include description, narration, and supported opinion. Candidates should bear in mind that meeting the B2 standard implies that they demonstrate the ability to elaborate, and that their speech is intelligible to individuals not accustomed to accented speech.

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