Demo online – explications

What's in the online contest
Everything you need to know

The online contest

We can’t tell you exactly what questions are in the contest – that would be cheating! – but we can give you an overview of the type, number and level of questions that you should expect. Read on for an indepth look into the online contest.

For a more first-hand approach, we recommend taking a look at the demo. It gives examples of 25 questions from a level 1 contest and is the best way to really undestand how the contest works.


What is the format of the contest?

There are two parts to the contest: listening and reading. Both parts are taken in the same sitting with no break in between. The time allowed for both parts is 45 minutes.

All the questions are multiple choice. There are four possibilities, only one of which is correct.

There are three degrees of question difficulty: easy, medium and hard. The test begins with easy questions, gradually introducing medium, then hard questions as the student progresses through the test. The hardest questions (“The Biggest Challenge”) come at the very end.

Students can answer the questions in any order by using the panel on the right. We recommend following the prescribed order, however, as it allows students to warm up on easier questions before attempting the more challenging ones. They can also use the panel to skip or return to questions at any time during the 45 minutes.

The majority of questions use images. The images provide context for the question and are also intended to make the contest more approachable and appealing to its young participants. Images are sometimes used in the question itself; participants may have to select which statement is true based on what they see in the image, or they may have to choose which of four images corresponds with a spoken or written text.


How many questions are there?

There are 55 questions in the online contest:

  • 25 easy questions (worth 4 points)
  • 15 medium questions (worth 5 points)
  • 15 hard questions (worth 6 points)


What is tested?

Listening (33 questions)

Students will hear individual words, short phrases or sentences, and longer dialogues or extracts (e.g. conversations, telephone calls or radio programmes). Students are commonly asked to demonstrate listening comprehension by:

  • selecting the correct corresponding image or text;
  • choosing the appropriate response to a request, question or statement;
  • identifying a situation;
  • giving information included in the audio.

In addition to comprehension, there are also questions on pronunciation, i.e. English sounds and syllable stress. Students may be asked to correctly identify words with the same phonemes by completing a list or finding the odd one out.

Finally, there are also cultural questions in the listening part of the test, as there are in the reading part. These test the students’ knowledge of English-speaking countries’ history, geography, customs and traditions.

All recordings are made using native English speakers with a speed of delivery appropriate to the level.


Reading (22 questions)

For this second part of the test, students will read a selection of texts, from short sentences to extended extracts (e.g. emails, articles, notices).  Questions are divided as follows:

  • grammar questions;
  • reading comprehension questions;
  • cultural questions;
  • The Biggest Challenge (any topic!)


What level is the contest?

There are five levels of The Big Challenge contest. We refer to both the CEFR and class textbooks when writing the questions.


The Big Challenge Levels CEFR
Level 1 A1 to A1+
Level 2 A1+ to A2
Level 3 A2
Level 4 A2 to A2+
Level 5 B1


If you have any questions about which level your students should take, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist.

How long does it take?

Students are given 45 minutes to complete the test. However, because they work at their own pace, some students may finish in under 45 minutes. When scheduling the contest, you should allow a few additional minutes before the test begins for students to enter their code and some information (school, region, etc), watch a quick demo and do a sound test.



The Contest demo

The best way to discover what’s in the contest is to try the demo. It shows the types of questions you can expect in the contest.


Try the demo


What happens the day of the contest?
Students are given a 45-minute session to complete the contest. This session may be scheduled at any time during the day to accommodate teachers’ and school schedules, preferably in the morning. To facilitate organisation, and to adapt to schools’ capacities in terms of computer equipment, several sessions may be scheduled the day of the contest: one session for each level for example. In exceptional cases where the date may prove impossible for the school or for certain classes, a special dispensation may be granted to hold the contest at an earlier date.
How do students take the test?
The test is taken online on a computer or tablet which must be connected to the internet for the duration of the test. It is comprised of 45 multiple-choice questions. For each question, there are four answers proposed. Contestants must select the one and only possible answer. The 45 questions, testing oral and written comprehension, cover vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, conversation situations and civilisation. Each class level has its own specific set of questions that correspond as closely as possible to school programmes as outlined in the CEFR. The test is strictly individual and takes place with no outside assistance or accessory of any kind (book, dictionary…). The test is supervised by a teacher or a member of the teaching staff who guarantees its proper conduct.
What personal information do students need to provide?
Just before the test begins, students must open the contest web page and select their school’s region, city and name. They must then enter their school’s Big Challenge code which will have been given to the Coordinator a few days earlier. This will give them access to a page where they must then enter their surname, first name, date of birth, class name and tick the box indicating their class level. They may then click on the START button to begin the test. 45 minutes later, they will no longer have access to the contest web page.
What should students do if they don’t know the answer to a question?
If students can eliminate one or two answers, and are hesitating about the remaining two answers, it would be better to make an educated guess. If they have really no idea which of the four answers is correct, then it’s better not to answer at all. If students apply this method, it will give them an advantage in the end. Students who answer randomly will have a final score close to zero. With one chance out of four of choosing the correct answer (and thus earning 5 points) and the risk of losing a quarter of the question’s value (1.25 points) with an incorrect answer, statistically they will end up with zero. On the contrary, a student who isn’t sure of the correct answer, but thinks carefully and is able to eliminate two answers out of the four, will have a distinct advantage. Taking the time to think carefully before making a choice is clearly the best way to succeed. Of course, that is what we hope to teach our students in general: to think carefully before giving an answer!
Some of my students were absent the day of the contest. Can we get a refund?
Starting in February, we begin pre-ordering the prizes and we confirm our orders as soon as registration is over in March. That is why, from March on, we simply cannot make any refunds. However, even if students are absent the day of the contest, the school will still receive prizes for the total number of students registered whether or not they are present the day of the contest since these prizes have already been purchased and cannot be stored from one year to the next.

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