English exam

TIE, Cambridge and IELTS exam

Are you an International student coming to Ireland to study English? In Dublin and interested in renewing your student visa? Are you a student who simply would like to have your English certified? TIE, Cambridge and IELTS exam are the most common exams taken. Your English language school will book it for you.

Here is what you should know about the most popular exams in Dublin.

TIE exam

The Test of Interactive English (TIE) has being designed for all the language students and it helps to highlight the needs and interests of each learner no matter their age or background. It has been developed in Ireland with the guidance of the Advisory Council for English Language Schools (ACELS), a national organisation responsible for checking the quality of a closed number of schools.

TIE is different from other exams; the test is based on topics and materials chosen by each student.

TIE exam

Beginner students learning English might prefer the TIE exam because it’s the easiest to prepare for, and it’s based on your own choices.

Every student is required to read a book, prepare an investigation and a news-story.

It is divided in 2 sections: Speaking (30 minutes, in groups of two or three) and Writing (60 minutes)

Cambridge exam

Cambridge exam

A Cambridge English Level exam is a qualification recognised around the world by employers, universities and government ministries as proof of ability to use English. You can apply for the exam of the level you want to achieve but remember that the certificate will not be validated if the level in not reached.

Exams structure:

  • A2 Key (KET): Reading and Writing (1 hour), Listening (30 minutes, including 6 minutes’ transfer time), Speaking (8–10 minutes per pair of candidates)
  • B1 Preliminary (PET): Reading and Use of English (45 minutes), Writing (45 minutes), Listening(30 minutes, including 6 minutes’ transfer time), Speaking(12–17 minutes per pair of candidates)
  • B2 First (FCE): Reading and Use of English (1 hour 15 minutes), Writing (1 hour 20 minutes), Listening (about 40 minutes), Speaking (14 minutes per pair of candidates)
  • C1 Advanced (CAE): Reading and Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes), Writing (1 hour 30 minutes), Listening (about 40 minutes), Speaking (15 minutes per pair of candidates)
  • C2 Proficiency (CPE): Reading and Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes), Writing (1 hour 30 minutes), Listening (about 40 minutes), Speaking (16 minutes per pair of candidates)

IELTS exam

One of the most prestigious English exams, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a Cambridge exam that covers all levels.

It has been created to evaluate the language ability of candidates who wish to start a studying or working experience in countries where the main language of communication is English.

The IELTS test consist in four parts: LISTENING (40 min), READING & COMPREHENSION (60 min), WRITING (60 min), and SPEAKING (11-14 min)

There are two types of IELTS exam that you can choose from:

  • Academic IELTS test is required to enter most of English-speaking universities and Institutions of Higher and Further Education
  • General Training IELTS test is suitable for who wish to go to English-speaking countries to compete a secondary education, a work experience or a training program

There are also two test formats:

IELTS exam

  • paper-based test – the Listening, Reading and Writing sections will be completed in paper support and the Speaking test will be face-to-face.
  • computer-delivered test – the Listening, Reading and Writing sections will be typed on a computer, while the Speaking test will be face-to-face.

So, what is the difference between IELTS and the other Cambridge exams?

IELTS is called a multi-level exam, this means that you get a score between 1 and 9. Anyone, whether your level is elementary or advanced, can do the exam.


Now that you know a bit more about the TIE, Cambridge and IELTS exam, it might be easier to choose.

Remember to plan for your future!

Good luck! ☘️

Work & Study Visa in Ireland – How to apply?

Ireland is one of the few countries you can apply for a work & study Visa as an English student. This Visa consists of a permit to stay in Ireland for a period of 33 weeks. 25 weeks must be dedicated to English studies and the other 8 can be used for holidays. For the majority of this period, you can work for 20hrs a week.

For the last few years Ireland has been a country with a growing economy, attracting very important multi-national companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, among others. This economic activity generates many new jobs everyday, either in qualified fields such as engineering and technology, or positions which do not require specialized skills in areas  such as cleaning and the hospitality sector (restaurants, pubs and hotels). That is why the country opened its doors to foreign workers, arriving from all over the world. Want to know how to apply for a Work & Study Visa?

What do you need to apply for a work & study visa?

As a student from outside the EU, to apply for this sort of visa for a period of 33 weeks you need:

  1. An English course of 15h per week for 25 weeks booked and paid before your arrival in Ireland
  2. A letter of acceptance from Castleforbes College containing all of your course details.
  3. A passport valid for at least 6 more months after your course is finished.
  4. Medical insurance and Learner Protection provided by Castleforbes College for the entire period you’re spending in Ireland studying English and traveling.
  5. 3000 euros as an evidence that you can maintain yourself in Dublin during your stay, which you can prove with a bank statement or in cash.
  6. 300 euros to pay for your visa application, only via debit or credit card, no cash accepted.
  7. An appointment on Immigration office booked on-line through GNIB official page 
work study visa
GNIB card, your prove of Irish visa, necessary to work in the country

After applying, you’ll receive a GNIB, card sent to your address in Ireland, which will allow you to stay in Ireland for a 25-week English Course plus 8 weeks of holidays, starting from the day you landed in Dublin. For this period, it is also a good idea to look for a permanent accommodation, since in Dublin in particular it has been difficult to find a place to stay right away.

I have a Visa, what’s next?

Once your Work & Study Visa is valid you’ll probably be eager to find a part-time job. In order to do so, we recommend following a few more steps:

  1. Apply for a PPS (Personal Public Service) number, required to apply for any job
  2. Prepare your CV and update your LinkedIn – many companies look for qualified professionals on-line in websites such as LinkedIn
  3. Open a bank account in Ireland – most employers ask for an Irish account to pay your wages
  4. Open an account at revenue.ie to manage your taxes – otherwise you will have big discounts on your first payments
work in pubs
Dublin has around 660 pubs, source of the many jobs created during summer

During the English course you’re allowed to work for 20 hours per week. However, it is possible to work for 40 hours in the months of June, July, August and September. This is the Irish summer, or “high season”, when the country receives many visitors due to the European holidays, and also from 15th December to 15 January, during the Christmas holidays. During the holidays many jobs open up in restaurants, pubs, cafés and other services related to tourism. Managers receive several CV’s daily, so if you know somewhere hiring, just show up in person and talk to the manager to get yourself a trial and increase your chances of being hired.

If you have any other questions, talk to us! We are always happy to help! May the Leprechaun guide you to Dublin and help you! Good Luck!

How to use the transport in Dublin City?

Dublin is a large city, counting with over 1 million citizens, but not with high skyscrappers as other big towns. Therefore, people live in many areas around the city and far from the city center, being  public transport of great importance to daily tasks as work, study and shopping. Thankfully, Dublin is a major transportation hub for the rest of Ireland and is in reality very well serviced by transport operators, like buses, tramlines, trains, taxis, public bikes, car renting, etc… if you’re not thinking about buying a car, that won’t be a problem for you. Although, it might be tricky to find the right option and use it correctly, even more being new in town. That’s why we prepared a set of tips to make your life easier when you want to go somewhere!


Public Transport


Dublin Bus is the main service operator in the city and operates an extensive service in the Dublin City and Greater Dublin area. The two stock buses are fast and the stops are always displaying the time to the next bus arriving, what makes it easier to use of this sort of transport. You can also use the Dublin Bus App for updated timetables and a cross city map to plan your route.

The fares to this transport vary according to how many stops are you passing by, goes from €2.10 to €3.65, and the payment can be made in cash (having the correct amount, because there no change is given back) or by Leap Card (to be mentioned).


For trips outside of Dublin, if you are going to visit cities such as Cork, Galway, Kilkenny or Belfast, check out: www.gobus.ie, www.dublincoach.ie and/or www.buseireann.ie.



Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) is the national railway operator and there are two major inter-city railway stations, Connolly station located within a fifteen-minute walk from the school and only a five-minute walk from O’Connell Street and Heuston station is on the Red LUAS line. Just like the buses, the fares vary depending on how many stops are you crossing, and can be paid by ticket bought in machines located in every station, by cash or card, or also by Leap Card.

For trains to Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny , please ensure that you buy tickets in advance as great reduction offers are only accessed online.

Iarnród Éireann also operate the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) as part of the Dublin suburban rail network which runs along the coast of Dublin on the Trans-Dublin route from Howth and Malahide, in the north to Bray and Greystones in County Wicklow to the south.

Check out www.irishrail.ie for timetables.



Luas is the name of the tram system in Dublin city centre.  Currently, there are two Luas lines, the Green line and the Red line, and they mainly serve the south-side of the city.  The nearest Luas stops to the school can be found within a fifteen-minute walk from the school at Connolly Station and Lower Abbey Street, both on the Red line. The fares are from €2.10 to €3.30 and tickets can be bought in every station at the automatic machines.

Leap Card

If you are staying in Dublin for a longer period of time it is well worth getting a Leap Card.  This is a convenient way to pay for public transport services, saves you carrying change and Leap Card fares are usually 20% cheaper than paying in cash! For students, the fares are fixed and you have even bigger discounts.  You simply buy your card, Top-Up with travel credit at any newsagents and you are ready to go. If student, you can go to the Trinity College Leap Card center or at the bus company at O’Connel Street and pay the €10 fee, getting your new card with a picture on it right the way.

As a student, having credits on your leap card you can use any transport:

  • Bus at the maximum rate of €2.60 one way, or  €5.00 for unlimited trips in one day, or €20.00 for unlimited trips in one week
  • Luas for the maximum of €19.00 for unlimited trips in one week
  • Dart  for the maximum of €20.00 for unlimited trips in one week

For more information visit:  www.leapcard.ie.


Private Transport

Dublin Bikes

Bicycles are widely used in Dublin city, motivated by the presence of several bike paths. There is also the availability of bikes for rent, placed in over a 100 stations all over Dublin City. You can by an anual pass for €25.00, or a day pass for €5.00. Your pass gives you the right to use any bike for a half an hour period and drop it in any of the stations, without paying anything else.

For more information, visit www.dublinbikes.com


Car Rental

Driving is a great way to explore the countryside and will allow access to beautiful towns such as Dingle in Kerry and Kinsale in Cork as well as the Game of Thrones and Giant’s Causeway tours close to Belfast. Just don’t forget: the Irish roads are oriented the same as the British roads, the contrary of the majority of countries!

Check out: www.rentalcars.com, www.europcar.ie.


We all wish you a nice trip!

Where to watch the World Cup in Dublin?

The Irish national team itself didn’t qualify for the World Cup, but you can find everywhere in the city excited people supporting some teams, or rooting against others. This happens for two reasons: first of all, Ireland has traditionally two other sports beloved for the nation, Gaelic football and hurling, and so football is not the priority of sports fans. On the other hand, Dublin is an international city, full of immigrants, workers and students, and is also known for being very friendly to everyone that arrives here. Therefore, everyone is just as excited with the World Cup as every person of participating nations.


Ireland National Football Team

The Green Army as the team is called by the Irish, participated at the World Cup three times: 1990 in Italy, 1994 in USA and 2002 in South Korea and Japan. Out of those three times, the best result was the first, when the team reached the quarter-finals. The team is currently 31 in the FIFA World Ranking, and its best position in history was in between the two consecutive World Cups, 1993, 6th place. Obviously, the Green army plays with a basic green kit, representing the country’s favourite colours.

Even though not traditionally having a successful football team, the Irish people follow the matches and support The Green Army no matter the end result.

World Cup Ireland
Current Irish kit


Where to watch the World Cup Matches in Dublin?

In Dublin there are dozens of places to watch the World Cup matches, since the city has more than a thousand pubs. Almost every pub with a screen is displaying the matches, and even a few of them start special promotions. The most traditional places that every sports fan knows are The Living Room, D2 and Woolshed. If you are near the Temple Bar area, a good option is also The Mercantile, with 9 screens, The Lots, with big screens and 4 euro pints, and so many others. If you would like to try a different pub for every game, you can find an interesting list in the DublinTown website.

The Living Room - inside picture
The Living Room – inside picture

But if you would like to keep up with World Cup from home, or watch them with a couple of friends and a barbecue, www.rte.ie is streaming all matches for free. It is one of the best options as it loads extremely fast and only has one advert at the beginning.

Although the Republic of Ireland has not qualified for this year’s World Cup, it has not stopped our enthusiasm for football and we hope that all of the respective teams of our students at Castleforbes College bring you pride and joy no matter the end result!