My experience of the TIE

Coming to Ireland to study English? You might be interested  in doing the TIE. (Test of Interactive English)

It is much cheaper than the Cambridge and IELTS exams and is accepted by most Irish universities and Institutes of Technology. 

The TIE   tie-logo

The TIE is designed for students studying English in Ireland. It assess candidates communicative and interactive skills, both speaking and writing. The test is flexible and learner-centred, based on content chosen by the student. The student prepares for the test by reading a book, following a news story and doing an investigation/project. Students receive their certificate giving their CEFR level within 10 days. All our Long-term Academic Year students do the TIE. It is also popular with SLC students on the General English course. The beauty of this exam is that you only need to book it 14 days in advance and it is available every Thursday in Dublin all-year round.   Note: TIE Junior is available for under-18’s

I’d like to give you one student’s experience of preparing for and doing this exam.

Pascal Jeffre    


Pascal works for SAUER TEXTILE who manufacture and distribute textile machinery around the world. Pascal, a mechatronics engineer,  prepares and delivers training programmes to their clients world-wide so they can maintain and repair the machines as well as ‘trouble-shoot’ when necessary.

SAUER TEXTILES has been sending employees to the SLC on English courses for a number of years. They always do an international English exam at the end of their three-week stay. Pascal is one of the first to do the TIE.

How did you prepare for the exam?

I did a three week General Intensive English course plus 10. The afternoon classes were focused on my weak areas of grammar and preparation for the TIE tasks. 

As I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I chose the first book ‘The Philosopher’s stone’.While I was reading I kept a vocabulary list of new words and also notes on the plot and main characters. I also practiced writing a review of the book comparing it with the film which I had seen. It’s easier to read a book in English if you’ve already read it in your mother tongue or seen the film.

For the project I thought about looking at the textile industry in Ireland and perhaps comparing it to Germany. But in the end I decided to do it on my hobby. Hunting. Jim, the bus driver organised for me to meet an Irish hunter so I could ask how things are done in Ireland. So it was easy for me to compare the two systems which are completely different.

And finally – the news story. I bought three different newspapers over three days to see if I could find an interesting story to follow. So many! And some of them were so big – such as the American election; I didn’t know where to start. Finally I chose the story of the difficulties Samsung was having with their new Galaxy 7 mobile phone as it was a relatively compact but interesting story.

I practiced all the writing tasks ( letters, essays, articles , reviews)  but focused especially on the ones connected to my chosen tasks.

We did plenty of practice for the speaking exam as well.


D-Day – The day of the exam!

I took the 9.30 bus from Wexford which was great as it drops you quite close to the exam centre. I was about an hour early so I was the first to check in. They just wanted to see my I.D. card, my chosen book and log book. They didn’t read it , just checked that it contained the news story,book and investigation, that’s all. After a few minutes I was registered and free to go through the park with a hot chocolate and relax.

 I was back at the  T.I.E. centre at pm. The other candidates where a little bit stressed because they´d just arrived and had to wait to register.. At 1.20 o´clock they split us into two groups.

Group one: 1.30 pm oral test and 2.30 pm writing test ( my group )

Group two: 1.30 pm  writing test and 2.40 pm oral test

 Which means one group starts with the oral test and the other starts with the writing test.


I did the test with a man from Peru, we went into the room and sat at the same table next to each other. The examiner sat in front of us at the other side of the table. She was a very friendly older lady. At first she asked us for our I.D. cards and the completed form (which I got from the SLC ). Then she switched on a voice recorder and began.

To me: Tell me something about yourself, your job, age  3min

The same to the other candidate 3min

To me: Tell me something about your investigation. Why did you choose this theme ? some general questions about my project. 4-5 min

The same to the other candidate 4-5 min

She asked both of us what our news stories were about and chose mine as the other candidate’s was on the Trump/ Clinton election and she had done a lot of those!

To me:Tell me about your news story ? Why did you choose this? Specific questions about the story, in my case is Samsung better than Apple? Do you think Apple sabotaged Samsung ? 3-4 min

Question to the other participant: What do you think about Pascals news story ? Are you interested in technology too? 2 min

Question to the other participant: Which book did you choose? Why ? what happened in the book? 3-4min

Discussion Next she gave us an A4 paper with 6 photographs of important milestones ( life  situations):

1. a wedding  2. first baby  3.first house   4.first car   5.passing an exam   6. A holiday.

Question to both of us: Please discuss, which is the most important experience.

I started directly to talk (because we practiced it ( THANK YOU )). I asked the other participant «Should I go through the pictures to make sure we understand them the same way?.» Then I started to describe them and after my description I answered the question and gave my opinion. The other candidate was very nervous and didn’t speak very much but I asked what he thought or  if he agreed with me.  5-6 min

The Oral test lasted for almost half an hour. (1.30-1.58 o´clock)

After the test we went into the break room for 30 mins, then we went to the writing test room.


I had 60 mins for the writing test. The test consists of two tasks, in each task I could choose between two questions.

TASK ONE (Authentic: a letter,article, review, report or essay )

Write something about a famous person of your country. Why is he/she famous. Write about your opinion of  him/her


Someone is visiting your town/city. Write about where he/she can go shopping. Why is this a good place for shopping. What is famous in your town?

TASK TWO (prepared: based on the book or news story -in my case about the book as I had already spoken about my news story in the oral exam.)

Why did you choose this book? Was it a good choice? Why/why not


Read the back of the book. Is it a good description of the book ? Why/why not?

Note: Remember to bring your book and news article  into the exam! And you can use a dictionary (mono or bilingual). I borrowed one from the SLC .

We started the test at 2.45 and finished  at 3.45.


I was able to catch the 4.07 bus back to Wexford.

The T.I.E. was much easier than I expected and I´m very happy with the results so ‘Don´t worry be happy’ and ‘ it´s nice to be nice’ as Jim says.

And HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!! I’m already looking forward to visiting you next year with my wife and daughter.

Pascal Jeffré

 Congratulations to Pascal who obtained B2 in his TIE. Well done!


CEFR: The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages from A0 (Beginner)  to C2 (Advanced)

                                                                                                                                               Susan Doyle

Interested?  Have a look at our Academic Year Programme.