I’ve just published a review of Cambridge English Exams The First Hundred Years. Although it’s got plenty of interesting tidbits (many of which I’ve mentioned in my review), the info isn’t exactly easy to find. I’m therefore going to publish this list of interesting numbers and then a much more useful history timeline, both hopefully of use to people needing some background in their writing on the topic, and also possibly of general interest.
Over a third – The proportion of worldwide FCE exam takers who were Greek in 1986
Three – The number of candidates who took the first CPE (Cambridge Proficiency in English) test in 1913. None passed.
9 – The number of UCLES EFL HQ staff in 1988
12 hours – The length of the first CPE exam in 1913, including two translation papers (from and to French and German), a two-hour essay, a three hour paper on English literature, a ninety-minute paper on phonetics, a thirty-minute dictation, reading aloud, and a conversation
53 – number of people in a staff photo of the whole of UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate) in 1953
60 – The percentage of Cambridge EFL exam candidates entering through British Council offices in 1991
Under 100 – The number of people taking CPE until 1933, 20 years after it was launched.
135 – The number of countries with a Cambridge exam centre by the end of the 1990s
A few hundred per year – The peak of popularity of the DES (Diploma of English Studies, higher than CPE) in its 50-year life
More than 10,000 – the number of approved Cambridge Oral Examiners in the early 90s
300,000 – The number of Chinese kids taking the Cambridge YLE tests a few years after their launch there.
500,000 – The number of people who took TOEFL in 1988, as against 150,000 for all Cambridge ESOL exams.
1.8 million – People taking IELTS in 2012 (up from 97,250 IELTS candidates in 1999, 10,000 ELTS candidates in 1985 and 4,000 ELTS candidates in 1981)
Nearly 4 million – Number of people taking Cambridge exams in 2012