Pre-Sessional Programme

Our Abbey College Cambridge Pre-Sessional Programme is designed to raise your ability in general and subject specific English to enable you to join our GCSE, International Foundation Programme and A-Level courses.

Dependent on your level of language and academic abilities our Pre-Sessional Programme can be taught for one, two or three terms. As well a strengthening your English language skills, we will prepare you to learn in a typical British classroom environment. This includes skill development in areas such as pair work, project work, independent reading, discussion work and team building. Physical Education (PE) and Personal Health and Social Education (PHSE) also form part of our pre-sessional curriculum.


Our Pre-sessional programme consists of 2.5 hours per week of each of the following core academic subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Business or Biology
  • Economics

Lessons in these core subjects will expand your language specific to these subjects and maintain your subject knowledge and skills. The remainder of the timetable is made up of English. Lessons in English will raise your proficiency in the use of general and academic English, improving your communication skills and giving you the ability to write a range of texts in a variety of registers with improved grammatical and lexical accuracy. For students of compulsory school age (13-16 years old), the programme includes one lesson of Physical Education (PE) per week.


Students sit three internal stage tests over the course of one year:

Stage Test 1: October/November
Stage Test 2: January
Stage Test 3: February

These tests include a test of the full range of English language skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) as well as tests in the core academic subjects.

In addition, students sit the B1 Preliminary external exam in English and the Cambridge First Certificate in English (B2 level). Students who achieve the B1 Preliminary exam will progress on to study for the Cambridge First Certificate. It is desirable for students to achieve a B2 level for increased chances of success on their chosen path of progression the following year.


The full range of Abbey College Cambridge extra-curricular clubs and activities is open to you on the pre-sessional course, and you are positively encouraged to get involved with as many activities as possible. The course also includes educational and recreational residential and non-residential trips, sometimes alongside our GCSE cohort of students who are of a similar age, and sometimes exclusively for the Pre-Sessional Programme.