Global Scale of English (GSE), the New Benchmark for English Language Proficiency

In today’s interconnected world, mastering English is more than just a skill—it’s a pathway to personal and professional growth. However, accurately assessing language abilities has always posed a challenge. While tests like TOEIC and IELTS have their place, they sometimes miss the nuances that truly reflect someone’s language capabilities. This is where the Global Scale of English (GSE) comes into play. It’s a game-changing framework designed to offer a more comprehensive and detailed evaluation of English proficiency, reshaping how we understand and measure language skills.

What is the GSE?

The GSE is a numeric scale ranging from 10 to 90, with each level representing a specific set of language skills and abilities. Unlike traditional language assessments that provide a broad overview of proficiency, the GSE offers a granular and detailed understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses across four key areas: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This level of scoring detail allows learners to pinpoint areas they need to improve.

The GSE is the result of extensive global research conducted by Pearson, a leading education company, in collaboration with over 10,000 teachers and academic specialists across more than 50 countries. The scale was developed using a rigorous methodology that involved analyzing language data, mapping learning objectives, and aligning assessments to create a comprehensive and universally applicable framework.

Versant by Pearson provides aligned assessments to generate GSE scores, helping learners and educators make informed decisions about language learning and development.


A popular test for determining English ability in the workplace is the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). Although the TOEIC offers insightful information about a person’s English proficiency, it is not without limitations. One reason is because it mostly evaluates reading and listening comprehension, substantially ignoring speaking and writing skills. Furthermore, the TOEIC ratings lack the specificity required to identify certain areas that require development since they are too broad.

The GSE, on the other hand, takes a comprehensive approach by assessing each of the four language skills—speaking, writing, listening, and reading. In addition, the comprehensive learning goals and granular scoring system of the GSE offer a clear path for people to pinpoint their areas of strength, weakness, and growth. This degree of detail is crucial for personalized language instruction and development.

Accessed from: TOEIC Score conversion to CEFR

GSE and the CEFR

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has been a widely accepted standard for describing language proficiency levels. However, the CEFR’s broad descriptors can be open to interpretation, leading to inconsistencies in assessment and evaluation.

The GSE builds upon the CEFR framework by providing a more detailed and consistent set of learning objectives and assessments. While the CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) correspond to specific GSE score ranges, the GSE offers a definitive evaluation within each CEFR level. This level of detail ensures that language learners and educators have a clear understanding of the specific skills and abilities associated with each proficiency level, enabling more targeted and effective language learning and instruction.

Accessed from: Pearson GSE Mapping Booklet

Who is the GSE for?

The GSE is designed to benefit a wide range of stakeholders in the language learning and assessment community:

Learners: The GSE provides learners with detailed insights into their current language skills, allowing them to measure their progress and confidently build personalized learning pathways.

Test Takers: The GSE helps test takers determine if they are ready to take an exam or identify specific skills they need to improve, enabling them to demonstrate progress with internationally recognized certifications and assessments.

Image from: Pearson website

Educators: By aligning with the GSE, educators can confidently place learners, create optimal personalized learning pathways, and track their development against a trusted, detailed, and easy-to-use framework.

HR Professionals: The GSE enables HR professionals to verify language skills and track employee development with detailed insights into all four language abilities: speaking, writing, listening, and reading.

Image from: Pearson website

How to Test for GSE

While the GSE provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating language proficiency, it is not an assessment tool itself. To obtain a GSE score, individuals can take the Versant tests by Pearson.

Versant by Pearson offers a range of flexible language testing and certification solutions that are aligned with the GSE. These assessments combine trusted artificial intelligence (AI) technology with expert human examiners to provide accurate and reliable English proficiency scores.

One of the key offerings from Versant is the Versant by Pearson English Certificate. This convenient solution allows candidates to assess their English proficiency and share their results with potential employers or educational institutions. Employers can then easily verify the candidates’ scores with just a few clicks, streamlining the hiring process and ensuring they have access to the best talent.

Image from: Pearson Versant website

In addition to the English Certificate, Versant by Pearson also offers a suite of English Tests that cater to various needs, from high-volume talent acquisition to learning and development. These tests evaluate candidates’ speaking, writing, or all four English language skills, providing employers with the flexibility to choose the assessments that best fit their requirements.

Accessed from: Pearson GSE Mapping Booklet

With its accurate and relevant testing approach, Versant by Pearson ensures that candidates are evaluated on practical, workplace-relevant content, giving employers confidence that their hires will thrive in their roles.

GSE Resources

Pearson offers a fre­e GSE toolkit to help teachers understand what students nee­d to know and when. The online, se­archable database includes:

  • Ove­r 2,000 learning objectives
  • 450+ grammar obje­ctives
  • Nearly 39,000 vocabulary items
  • The­ ability to filter by topic, grammar category, or proficiency le­vel

The Future of English Language Assessment

The GSE is a significant step forward in the evaluation and measurement of English language competency. The system provides employers, educators, and learners with a comprehensive, globally applicable framework that allows them to make well-informed decisions and pursue individualized approaches to language acquisition and development.

Versant by Pearson, which is aligned with the GSE, offers reliable and accurate language testing solutions that meet a variety of diverse needs, from individual certification to extensive talent acquisition and staff development programs.

The requirement for proficient language use and efficient communication will only increase as the world becomes ever more interconnected. Together with Pearson’s Versant testing capabilities, the GSE establishes itself as the new standard for assessing and developing English language proficiency, enabling people and businesses to prosper in the current global environment.

52% of English Learners leave their formal education without confidence in their speaking skills, highlighting the demand for more speaking practice. The GSE framework and Versant assessments place a key emphasis on evaluating and developing speaking abilities.