TrueNorth and CEFR scoring

The Speaking and Writing assessments provide two main scores: the TrueNorth Score and the CEFR estimate. For hiring, many of our customers choose a 6.7 TrueNorth Score or B2 CEFR level for their minimum required score (the minimum score candidates need to meet or exceed to be considered). Depending on how you’ve used CEFR levels in the past, your calibration may differ from the estimates we provide. See below for more details about how we calibrate our CEFR estimates.

The TrueNorth Scale

The TrueNorth Scale is Emmersion’s proprietary 100-point scale. It is represented by scores that range from 0 to 10 at 0.1 intervals (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and so on). The TrueNorth Scale is the most granular scale on the market today with most other assessments being scored on a scale of only eight or less points.

As an example of how this added granularity can be beneficial, let’s imagine two individuals take the TrueNorth Speaking assessment and both receive an estimated level of B1 on the CEFR scale. However, while their CEFR levels are the same, their TrueNorth Scores are not—the first received a score of 5.0 and the second a score of 6.4. The first has significantly poorer language ability and proficiency than the second, and that is visible with the TrueNorth Scale where it isn’t with the CEFR scale.

Using the TrueNorth Scale

When evaluating language ability for job qualification or other purposes, many customers choose a score that candidates need to meet or exceed. We refer to this as the minimum required score.

Depending on your needs, the score that you choose to use as a minimum required score may differ. Many of our customers choose a 6.7 TrueNorth Score or B2 CEFR level for their minimum required score. While a 6.7 TrueNorth Score is, in most cases, a reasonable minimum required score, your needs may require a higher score or allow for a lower score. 


One way that you can establish a shared minimum required score across your team members is by creating custom thresholds. Thresholds allow you to pick a score range and label it. For example, if your minimum required score for the role is 5.0, you might label a score range of 0 to 4.9 with “Don’t Proceed” so no more time is spent on candidates that don’t meet the minimum requirements for the role. To learn more about how you can use thresholds to make language-based decisions faster, see this article.

The CEFR scale

In order for language detail to be useful across different situations, it is helpful for ability to be defined within a framework. Of the several language frameworks used around the world, the most common particularly for hiring is the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). 

Although it originated in Europe, CEFR has been adopted by many organizations around the world for its description of what people at different ability levels can do with their language skill. When connected to a CEFR descriptor, many consider test data easier to use because CEFR links performance on the test to broader performance in the language. 

There are six major levels defined within CEFR: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. As a person progresses across these levels, beginning at A1, they become capable of increasingly more complex work at a higher level of language quality. While each level is discrete, as a test-taker moves between levels, which of the adjacent major levels they should be assigned to can become temporarily less clear. As a result, a person may be assigned to be a B1-B2 or B1+ to represent this in-between phase. For full details on the CEFR scale, see the source documentation here.

While the descriptions and definitions of these levels are standardized and universal, each test goes through its own process to establish its equivalency or connection to CEFR. It is up to the test publisher and research team to determine how to relate test data to CEFR descriptions. This is why it is possible for the CEFR level assigned by one test to be different from the CEFR level assigned by another assessment.

TrueNorth + CEFR

The TrueNorth Score, used together with the CEFR equivalency, creates a powerful combination that can dial in exactly at the level of language skill you’re looking for. 

See the following chart for CEFR equivalencies and explanations of different language ability ranges.

TrueNorth Score Range

CEFR Estimate

Ability Description



Can interact in a simple way, but communication requires repetition, a slower rate, rephrasing, and repair. 

2.0 - 2.9

A1 - A2

Can use a growing set of highly practiced phrases to interact simply in areas of personal interest and need. 

3.0 - 3.9


Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple exchange of information on familiar matters to do with work and free time. 

4.0 - 4.9

A2 - B1

Can interact mostly comfortably in routine situations and short conversations, though, at times, needs help.

5.0 - 6.4


Can use a wide range of simple language to deal with many situations, occasionally even outside their normal patterns. 

6.5 - 6.6

B1 - B2

Can communicate mostly confidently on familiar and some technical subjects related to their interests and professional field.

6.7 - 8.0


Can communicate with flow that makes regular interaction and relationships with English speakers natural and comfortable.

8.1 - 8.4

B2 - C1

Can accurately and effectively speak on a wide range of personal and technical topics with consistent flow. 

8.5 - 9.0


Can communicate with automatic flow almost effortlessly with a good command of broad and varied language. 

9.1 - 9.4

C1 - C2

Can communicate effortlessly in familiar situations, and even difficult technical subjects can be communicated with relative ease. 

9.5 - 10


Has a thorough command of everyday and technical expressions with control for different levels of meaning.