A Test of English in the Workplace

What is BULATS?

BULATS is a language assessment service produced by Cambridge English Language Assesment and distributed in Japan through Eiken Foundation of Japan, which offers a quick and reliable way of assessing the language ability of groups of students, job applicants, trainees or employees. There are four self-standing components: the Standard Test and the Computer Test which assess Listening and Reading & Language Knowledge skills; and the Writing Test and Speaking Test which test productive skills. The tests are designed for the growing number of organisations which rely on the language skills of their employees in order to operate effectively: companies trading in international markets; national and local government departments; or any organisation for whom good, bi- or multilingual communication is an important part of the working day.

In companies, BULATS can be used:

  • to compare the Business English level of staff worldwide
  • as a placement test for English training sessions
  • to measure the effectiveness of English training sessions
  • as a practical Business English skill check for recruitment and selection (for sending staff overseas)
  • to assess each skill (reading, writing, speaking, listening) separately

And in high schools, universities and English schools, the tests can be used:

  • as a placement test
  • to measure progress
  • as a target level for job-hunting
  • as preparation for studying abroad

Benefits - What are the benefits of BULATS?

An increasing number of companies are using BULATS to evaluate the English skills of potential job applicants, as well as existing employees, since the tests focus on the real-life skills that are actually used in the workplace, and the results give an accurate reflection of what test takers can actually do in English. The tests aim to be relevant to people using the language at work and cover areas such as descriptions of jobs, companies and products, travel, management and marketing, customer service, planning, reports, phone messages, business correspondence and presentations. The tasks in the test are practical ones, e.g. taking a phone message, checking a letter, giving a presentation, understanding an article, writing a report. In the speaking test, candidates have a one-to-one interview with an examiner and in the writing test, candidates are required to write extended discourse. Each test can be used independently of the others, or they can be used in various combinations. This principle of flexibility allows BULATS to customise the service for different situations.

Report - How are the results reported?

The same test is used for all candidates whatever their level, and results are reported in terms of the six levels of the ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) Framework, and the Council of Europe Framework levels, A1-C2. ALTE members were involved in the development of the Common European Framework, and there is an exact correspondence in the levels, supported by a continuing programme of research. In addition, candidates receive a summary of the ALTE Can-do statements which describe what language users are actually able to do in English. These statements have been through a thorough validation process, in order to place them correctly on the 5 levels of the ALTE Framework.

Recognition - Who uses BULATS?

BULATS is used by universities, companies and organisations around the world, including Airbus, the Emirates Group, Wipro Technologies, the Shanghai Municipal Government and the Hong Kong Workplace Campaign. Here in Japan, where the test is jointly-branded as BULATS, over 200 organisations use it, including Hitachi, JAC Japan, the British Council, Texas Instruments Japan Ltd., NEC Japan and Mainichi Communications. And increasingly, colleges and universities are recommending BULATS to students who will soon be entering the workforce since the tests focus on evaluating the skills needed in the workplace.

Test Dates - When are the test dates?

BULATS is available on demand - it can be taken at your convenience and on your premises. Only two weeks' notice is required. See below for details.

  Test Format Time Required Price Test Components Result
Computer Test

Computer-Adaptive Test

(Computer selects questions according to how well the candidate answers previous questions.)

Until reliable assessment of candidate's level has been achieved.

Approx. 60 min.

(Max. 75 min.)

2,900 JPY *

Language Knowledge

Generated immediately when the test is finished

Standard Test Paper Test 110 min. 2,900 JPY *

5 business days from the test's arrival at STEP

Speaking Test Face-to-Face interview Approx. 15 min. 6,900 JPY *

Part1 : Interview
(4 min.)
Part2 : Presentation
(4 min.)
Part3 : Information exchange and discussion
(4 min.)

10 business days from the test's arrival at STEP

Writing Test Writing Test 45 min. 3,900 JPY *

Part1 : Short Message/Letter
(50-60 words)
Part2 : Report
(180-200 words)

  • *Discount Package :
    If the Computer Test or Standard Test is ordered together with the Speaking Test or Writing Test, then a 900 JPY discount will apply
    for each candidate.

Information - Where can I find further information about BULATS?

For further information about BULATS, and to arrange a test session, please contact:

Information is also available on the BULATS website

or the BULATS website

Sample materials, candidate handbooks, and more details of the test specifications are available on the websites.


55 Yokodera-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-8055, JAPAN