The Beijing English Testing System (BETS), an exam especially designed for improving the English proficiency of Beijing residents, will be conducted for the first time on May 27-28 this year.
Anybody, regardless of his age, gender, profession, schooling background, nationality and residence, who now lives and works in Beijing, can sign for the exam, according to information released on the website of the Beijing Organizing Committee for Games of the XXIX Olympiad and the website of the Beijing Education Examination Authority, as well as other official websites.
The exam is one of the measures the Beijing municipal government has taken to prompt local residents to learn and speak English and improve Beijing's image as an international metropolis in preparation for the upcoming 29th Olympic Games in Beijing.
Test questions are jointly designed by Cambridge ESOL and the Organizing Committee for Beijing Residents Speaking English Activities. The test questions follow the international language proficiency testing standards and showcase the characteristics of Beijing and those of different vocations, according to designers of the test.
The tests are divided into three levels, namely BETS-1, BETS-2 and BETS-3, to test local people's ability to listen, speak, read and write in English.
BETS exams will be arranged twice in a year, which take place on May 27-28 in the first half of the year and in late October in the second half of the year. The test will be an annual event.
Those who pass the test can obtain two certificates: one jointly issued by the Leading Group of Beijing English Testing System, the Foreign Affairs Office of the Beijing Municipal People's Government and Beijing Education Examination Authority; the other one issued by Cambridge ESOL.
The two certificates can be used as references for government departments and businesses to recruit employees and certify Beijingers' internationally recognized English proficiency when they are going to study overseas.
(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2006)