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university of cambridge certificate in english language skills

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Exam Courses

Cambridge Advanced – English at Champions League level

Jump-start your career and studies: The Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is a language certificate for people learning English as a second language. The exam is oriented towards the C1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and provides official proof of your language proficiency in professional and academic settings.

Who should consider taking the CAE?

  • Language students (secondary school) who are already at the B2 level or higher
  • Students at secondary school or university who would like to study in an English-speaking country
  • Job applicants who want to prove their proficiency in English
  • Employees who work in an English-speaking country
  • Employees who work in an international setting

Not on the list? Then why not aim for the Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) first? This exam is intended for language students (secondary school) with less prior knowledge; it demonstrates comfort with using the language independently.

What are the benefits of the CAE?

  • Recognised by more than 6,000 educational institutions, companies and government agencies worldwide
  • Fulfils entrance requirements for many universities in the UK, Canada and Australia
  • Fulfils visa application requirements for the UK and Australia
  • Helps you prepare for living, studying and working in an English-speaking country

Exam format and content of the CAE

A talented all-rounder: The Cambridge Advanced exam has four parts, each of which tests a different aspect of the candidate’s proficiency in the language and provides a comprehensive picture of your language skills. The test includes reading and language usage, writing, listening and free speaking. The exam takes around four hours.

Reading & Use of English

The first part of the Cambridge Advanced exam focuses on reading comprehension. You’ll have to answer multiple-choice questions on various texts. The sources for these are authentic: short stories, novels, newspapers, magazines or online articles. Here, you have the chance to prove you can reliably grasp both overall themes and detailed information in the text. Next various types of fill-in-the-blank test your vocabulary and knowledge of grammar. These require wide-ranging familiarity with language use. You have 90 minutes to answer the questions in the Reading & Use of English section of the test.


Next up, two writing exercises will let you demonstrate your ability to express yourself in writing. The first part of the Writing test is for you to compose a paragraph about a given text. The text might be a newspaper article, brochure or letter. Your job here is to summarise what you’ve read in your own words, then reflect on the exam text from a specific point of view (you will also receive a prompt for this).

During the second half, you can choose one of three writing exercises. Usually this means writing a letter, application, report or assessment. You are given 90 minutes for both exercises. How you divide up the time you spend on the individual texts is up to you..


The Cambridge Advanced Exam tests your listening comprehension in this section. As you listen to short snippets of conversations, monologues of varying length and interviews or discussions, you’ll answer questions on the general topics of the conversations, detailed information or the speakers’ opinions and attitudes. This material also comes from everyday sources. The recordings might be of presentations, speeches, interviews or radio shows, for example.

What’s more, you’ll have to deal with different accents of the English language: The speakers on the recordings come from the UK, the United States and Australia – this challenges your ability to adapt to different ways of pronouncing the language. The Listening section takes around 40 minutes.


The test of free speaking attempts to approximate a normal conversation as closely as possible. Therefore the Speaking section takes place face to face (with one examiner and one other candidate). First, the examiner individually asks each candidate a few questions about themselves and their interests. Once you’ve warmed up a bit, you and your test-taking peer will each give a short monologue about a selection of images.

Next, the two of you will have a discussion based on a specific task, using another selection of images. For example, this task might be deciding on a suitable recreational activity to do after the exam, or choosing the perfect location for your next holiday. You’ll then go into more depth on the topic with the examiner. This is the Cambridge Advanced method of testing both your ability to state your own opinions in English and your skill at responding to unexpected conversational input. At the same time, you’re proving that you can use grammar and vocabulary correctly, not to mention pronounce English words and place the stress on the right syllables. The Speaking test takes around 15 minutes..

CAE preparation with Eurocentres

Be prepared: Cambridge Advanced sets high standards for its candidates’ knowledge of English. Beginner English-language learners should therefore start with the Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE). However, the CAE may still be a piece of cake for more experienced language students who have prepared properly. That’s why Eurocentres offers intensive preparatory courses for the exam at language schools all over the world.

During these eight to twelve-week courses, you’ll become familiar with test materials such as English-language literature, newspaper articles and an array of audio recordings. We’ll also help you prepare for the testing environment and work on the right strategies using sample exams. After the course concludes, you’ll have approximately one more week of time to prepare independently before the exam date. You will then sit the exam in the familiar atmosphere of the Eurocentres language schoo – exactly as you’ve been practising over the previous few weeks.

Language travel through Eurocentres as preparation for the CAE

To learn English, you need to speak the language – and not just during the lesson, but in everyday life too. That’s why language study abroad in an English-speaking country is the ideal opportunity to improve your English skills. During your language stay, you’ll frequently talk to native speakers and try out your newly acquired abilities. There’s no better way to prepare for the speaking test. What’s more, you’ll expand your vocabulary and fine-tune your use of the language.
Your constant exposure to English-language media will get you ready for the reading and listening portions of the exam. In addition to the high-quality language courses at our language schools and contact with the language, language study abroad also means you’ll have lots of unique experiences.

For example, let’s find out what two selected Eurocentres language schools have in store for you:

Eurocentres Cambridge Language School

Study for your language certificate right near the birthplace of the Cambridge Certificate. The English university city of Cambridge has been shaped by a unique academic atmosphere. Grand buildings such as the colleges and university library bear witness to a centuries-old tradition of learning and teaching. We invite you to dive into this environment and study for the Cambridge Advanced Certificate at the Eurocentres Language School in Cambridge . Let yourself be swept up in the allure of academia – and pass your exam with flying colours!

New York Language School

There are many other amazing places to learn the English language besides Great Britain. Along with masterpieces of architecture and world-famous destinations, New York also offers outstanding options for social interaction. Experience the English language live – at concerts, plays and musicals – and have conversations with the residents of the Big Apple. Not only will the Eurocentres Partner School Rennert on the East Side of Manhattan prepare you for your exam – it’ll also guarantee unforgettable experiences in the city that never sleeps.

Assessing & Scoring the Cambridge Advanced Certificate

In the CAE, points are awarded as follows: The Cambridge First is assessed by the staff of Cambridge English Language Assessment, a department at the University of Cambridge. It is possible to attain up to 210 points on this test. If you score between 200 and 210 points, you achieve Grade A – and are even awarded a C2-level certificate. This means that your language skills are on a par with those of a native speaker. Grades B and C are likewise excellent results, falling between 180 and 200 points, and demonstrate your capabilities as a C1-level speaker of English.
All three scores mean that you will receive the Cambridge Advanced language certificate. If you score any lower, however, you do not pass the CAE. However, if you achieve between 160 and 180 points, you will at least receive a certificate demonstrating B2-level English skills. Unlike other language certificates like IELTS or TOEIC, the CAE does not expire or need to be retaken. It will remain valid for several years.


Number of lessons (50 minutes) per weekApproximate hours

Our courses are aimed at adults aged 16 and over, and students aged 16-18 will  receive additional support, supervision and attention if necessary.

If you have any other questions about the CAE, you can contact us here . We’re happy to advise you on choosing the right exam and can help you find a corresponding language study abroad programme. You can find more information on the CAE and other language certificates offered by the University of Cambridge at the Cambridge English Language Assessment website. Use the opportunity to officially demonstrate your English skills!

Language Levels

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Course facts

Entry Level:



Twenty general language lessons plus five lessons of exam technique and five lessons of guided exam practice per week. Course structure may vary.

Duration (in weeks):


Max. Class Size:


This language course is offered at the following language schools

  • Auckland
  • Brighton
  • Brisbane
  • Bournemouth
  • Cambridge
  • Cairns
  • Dublin
  • Gold Coast
  • Cape Town
  • London
  • London Greenwich Eltham
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Perth
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
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Similar Exams

First (FCE)
Advanced (CAE)
Proficiency (CPE)

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C2 Proficiency

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C2 Proficiency, previously known as Cambridge English: Proficiency and the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), is an English language examination provided by Cambridge Assessment English (previously known as Cambridge English Language Assessment and University of Cambridge ESOL examination).

C2 Proficiency is the highest level qualification provided by Cambridge Assessment English and shows that learners have mastered English to an exceptional level. It is focused on Level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

C2 Proficiency is one of the examinations in Cambridge English Qualifications – a path for improving language skills. Each Cambridge English Qualification targets a particular level of the CEFR and they work together to create an effective learning journey.


  • 1 History
  • 2 Format
  • 3 Scoring
    • 3.1 Scoring from January 2015
    • 3.2 Scoring pre-January 2015
  • 4 Timing and results
  • 5 Usage
  • 6 Preparation
  • 7 See also
  • 8 External links
  • 9 References

History[ edit ]

C2 Proficiency (previously known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) and Cambridge English: Proficiency) was first introduced in 1913 ‘for Foreign Students who desire a satisfactory proof of their knowledge of the language with a view to teaching it in foreign schools.’ [1]

The exam took 12 hours and cost £3 (approximately £293 in 2012 prices [2] ) and was open only for candidates aged 20 or over. The exam was divided into two sections: written and oral.


  1. Translation from English into French or German (2 hours)
  2. Translation from French or German into English, and questions on English Grammar (2 ½ hours)
  3. English Essay (2 hours)
  4. English Literature (3 hours)
  5. English Phonetics (1 ½ hours)


  1. Dictation (½ hour)
  2. Reading and Conversation (½ hour).

In 1913, the English Essay topics were very Anglocentric:

  1. The effect of political movements upon nineteenth century literature in England.
  2. English Pre-Raphaelitism
  3. Elizabethan travel and discovery
  4. The Indian Mutiny
  5. The development of local self-government
  6. Matthew Arnold. [3]

The first exam in 1913 was taken by just three candidates, who all failed. For the next 15 years the Certificate of Proficiency in English ‘teetered along with 14 or 15 candidates a year.’ [4] By 1929 it was in danger of being discontinued and UCLES decided to introduce some changes to the exam.

By 1926 the length of the exam had been reduced to 11 hours and the translation paper included Italian and Spanish options. In 1930 a special literature paper for foreign students was provided for the first time. The 1930 essay topics were more general and suitable for a variety of candidates:

  1. The topic that is most discussed in your country at the present time.
  2. Fascism
  3. The best month in the year
  4. Good companions
  5. Any English writer of the twentieth century.
  6. Does satire ever effect its purpose, or do any good? [5]

In 1932 the phonetics element of the exam was dropped and the target candidature was widened beyond that of prospective teachers to all ‘foreign students who desired to obtain evidence of their practical knowledge of the language both written and spoken, and of their ability to read with comprehension standard works of English literature.’ [6]

Candidature began to rise, from 66 candidates in 1933 to 752 candidates in 1939. Furthermore, the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford began accepting the Certificate of Proficiency in English as the standard of English required of all students.

Another new syllabus for the exam was introduced in 1945, with literature and translation equally weighted. Further changes took place in 1953, when the length of the exam was further reduced to 9 hours and candidates could choose to take a ‘Use of English’ paper as an alternative to ‘Translation’. Use of English questions remain to this day, although in a changed format.

The early 1960s saw the beginnings of a shift in the Cambridge language testing methodology towards a separation of language testing from the testing of literary or cultural knowledge. In 1966, a new syllabus was proposed which reflected a new emphasis on language-based assessment. The structure of the 1966 Certificate of Proficiency in English exam was as follows:


Candidates must offer (a) English Language and two other papers chosen from (b), (c), or (d). No candidate may offer more than one of the alternatives in (b).

a. English Language (composition and a passage or passages of English with language questions. The choice of subjects set for composition will include some for candidates who are specially interested in commerce.) (3 hours)

b. Either English Literature
or Science Texts
or British Life and Institutions
or Survey of Industry and Commerce (3 hours)

c. Use of English (3 hours)

d. Translation from and into English (3 hours)


a. Dictation, Reading and Conversation.

The exam continued to evolve, reflecting thinking and developments in communicative language assessment and second language acquisition (SLA). By 1975 it included separate listening and speaking tests, finally adopting a format familiar to modern-day candidates with papers in Reading, Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking/Interview. In 1984, exam time was reduced to less than 6 hours – half the amount of the original 1913 exam.

Revisions in 2002 continued to reflect developments in communicative language assessment, as first evidenced in the 1975 and 1984 revisions. A paired speaking test was introduced following research into the relative effectiveness of a test with a single candidate or a pair of candidates, with the latter shown to produce a wider range of functional language use. The exam also introduced wider ranges of: sources in reading and text-based tasks, tasks in the writing paper and real-life contexts in the listening paper. [7]

In 2013, C2 Proficiency celebrated its 100th anniversary and another set of revisions were introduced, which aimed at ensuring its continued suitability for higher education study and career enhancement purposes. The Use of English paper was subsumed into the Reading paper and the revised exam is now 4 hours in length. [8]

Format[ edit ]

C2 Proficiency is made up of four exam papers, which cover all the key language skills (Reading and Use of Language, Writing, Listening and Speaking). [9]

The Speaking paper is taken face-to-face. Candidates have the choice of taking the Reading and Use of English paper, Writing paper and Listening paper on either a computer or on paper. [10]

1. Reading and Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes – 40% of total marks)

The Reading and Use of English paper has seven parts.

Candidates are expected to be able to read and understand a range of different texts, e.g. fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and manuals. Candidates are expected to demonstrate a variety of reading skills including skimming, detailed reading, following an argument, coherence and linking, and looking for specific information.

Parts 1 to 4 focus on Use of English and test underlying knowledge of vocabulary and grammar through exercises such as supplying missing words, forming new words in a given text, and rewriting sentences.

Parts 5 to 7 focus on Reading and test understanding of texts through tasks such as multiple-choice, gapped paragraph and multiple matching exercises.

2. Writing (1 hour 30 minutes – 20% of total marks)

The Writing paper has two parts.

Part 1 has one compulsory question. Candidates are asked to write an essay of approximately 240–280 words, which summarises and evaluates the key points contained in two texts of approximately 100 words each.

Part 2 requires candidates to answer one question from a choice of four. Candidates may be asked to write an article, a letter, a report, or a review. One of the choices will include writing about a set text.

Candidates write their responses in 280-320 words. They are assessed on their ability to structure and develop ideas of a given topic, the impression their writing makes on the reader, usage of language and how well the candidate achieves their writing purpose.

3. Listening (approximately 40 minutes – 20% of total marks)

The Listening paper has four parts.

Part 1 has three short, unrelated recordings each lasting approximately 1 minute and six multiple-choice questions to complete.

Part 2 has a monologue lasting 3–4 minutes and nine incomplete sentences. Candidates must fill in the gap in each sentence based on the information in the recording.

Part 3 has a recording with interacting speakers lasting 3–4 minutes and 5 multiple-choice questions to complete.

Part 4 has five short, themed monologues each lasting approximately 35 seconds and two multiple-matching tasks. Each task in this part contains 5 questions.

Recordings come from a range of spoken materials, such as lectures, speeches and interviews, and feature language that a candidate might encounter in work situations, at university or in everyday life. Candidates are expected to demonstrate a wide range of listening skills, such as understanding the gist of an extract, understanding specific information or noting the speakers’ opinions, attitudes or feelings.

4. Speaking (16 minutes – 20% of total marks)

The Speaking paper has three parts, with two candidates paired together. There are two examiners. One examiner acts as both interlocutor and assessor and manages the test by asking questions and setting-up tasks for the candidates. The other acts as assessor only and does not join the conversation.

Part 1 is a short conversation with the examiner. The examiner asks a series of questions which give candidates an opportunity to talk about themselves.

Part 2 is a collaborative task with the other candidate. The examiner gives the candidates spoken instructions and one or more pictures to look at. Each candidate answers a question about the picture(s) and then undertakes a decision-making task with the other candidate.

Part 3 is a long monologue and a group discussion. The examiner gives a candidate a card with a question and some ideas. The candidate must speak for about 2 minutes on their own. When they finish the other candidate is asked to comment and the examiner asks both candidates a question on the topic. This procedure is repeated with the second candidate, then the examiner leads a discussion with both candidates.

Candidates are expected to demonstrate a range of oral skills such as organisation of thoughts, negotiation, extended discourse and maintaining a discussion with appropriate pronunciation, intonation and speed of delivery.

Scoring[ edit ]

In January 2015, Cambridge English Scale scores replaced the candidate profile and standardised scores used for pre-2015 results. All candidates (pre- and post-2015) receive a Statement of Results, with those scoring high enough also receiving a certificate. [11]

Scoring from January 2015[ edit ]

From 2015, the Statement of Results and the Certificate have the following information about the candidate’s performance:

  • A score on the Cambridge English Scale for each skill (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) and for Use of English
  • A score on the Cambridge English Scale for the overall exam
  • A grade (A, B, C, Level C1) for the overall exam
  • A CEFR level for the overall exam. [12]

The candidate’s overall score is averaged from the individual scores for each skill (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) and for Use of English.

C2 Proficiency is targeted at CEFR Level C2, but also provides reliable assessment at the level below C2 (Level C1). The following scores are used to report results:

The following scores are used to report results:

GradeCambridge English Scale Score (180–230)CEFR Level
CEFR Level C1180–199C1

Scores between 162 and 179 are also reported on the Statement of Results but candidates will not receive a certificate.

Scoring pre-January 2015[ edit ]

Pre-2015, the Statement of Results had the following information, reflecting the total combined score from all the papers:

  • A grade (A, B, C, Level C1) for the overall exam
  • A score (out of 100) for the overall exam
  • A CEFR level for the overall exam.
GradeScore (total mark out of 100)CEFR Level
CEFR Level C145–59C1

Pre-2015, the Statement of Results had a Candidate Profile, which showed the candidate’s performance on each of the individual papers against the following scale: exceptional, good, borderline and weak.

Pre-2015, candidates who achieved a score of 45 or more (out of 100) received a certificate.

Timing and results[ edit ]

Candidates take the Reading and Use of English, Writing, and Listening papers on the same day. The Speaking paper is often taken a few days before or after the other papers, or on the same day.

Dates for taking the paper-based exam and computer-based exam are offered at test centres throughout the calendar year. A directory of all global exam centres and their contact details can be accessed on the Cambridge Assessment English website .

Successful candidates (those scoring above 180) receive two documents: a Statement of Results and a certificate. Universities, employers and other organisations may require either or both of these documents as proof of English language skills.

An online Statements of Results is available to all candidates four to six weeks after the paper-based exam and two weeks after the computer-based exam. Successful candidates receive a hard copy certificate within three months of the paper-exam and within six weeks of the computer-based exam. [13]

Usage[ edit ]

C2 Proficiency demonstrates language proficiency at Level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
(CEFR) and is designed to show that a successful candidate has mastered English to an exceptional level.

Learners use this qualification to study post-graduate courses, lead high-level research projects and academic seminars and communicate effectively at upper managerial and board level in international business. [14]

Employers, universities and government departments around the world accept C2 Proficiency as proof that a successful candidate can study or work at the very highest level of professional and academic life and as an indication of English language ability. Many higher education institutions accept C2 Proficiency for admission purposes. This includes Universities based in:

  • Australia (e.g. Australian National University)
  • Canada (e.g. University of Toronto)
  • France (e.g. ICN Business School)
  • Germany (e.g. Ludwig-Maximillians Universität München)
  • Hong Kong (e.g. City University of Hong Kong)
  • Italy (e.g. Universita Roma Tre)
  • Netherlands (e.g. Universiteit Utrecht)
  • Russian Federation (e.g. Plekhanov Russian University of Economics)
  • Spain (e.g. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
  • Switzerland (e.g. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich)
  • United Kingdom (e.g. University of Cambridge)
  • United States of America (e.g. Brown University).

A full list of organisations can be accessed on the Cambridge Assessment English website .

C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency can be used to apply for degree courses (or higher) at almost all UK universities. This is because candidates who need to apply for a visa to study at degree level or above at a Tier 4 Sponsor only need to meet the English language requirements set by the university; they don’t need to take a test from the UKVI list of Secure English Language Tests (SELT tests). [15]

Preparation[ edit ]

A comprehensive list of authorised exam centres can be found on the Cambridge Assessment English website . Free preparation materials, such as sample tests, are available from the website for C2 Proficiency . There is also a wide range of official support materials , jointly developed by Cambridge Assessment English and Cambridge University Press.

See also[ edit ]

  • Cambridge Assessment English
  • Cambridge English Qualifications
  • A2 Key
  • B1 Preliminary
  • B2 First
  • C1 Advanced

External links[ edit ]

  • C2 Proficiency website

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ UCLES (1913) Regulations for the Examinations for Certificates of Proficiency in Modern Languages and Religious Knowledge.
  2. ^ Inflation calculator , Bank of England, retrieved 15 April 2014 .
  3. ^ Research Notes ( PDF ) (10), Cambridge English Language Assessment, November 2002, retrieved 15 April 2014 ; UPBO excerpt .
  4. ^ Roach, J. O. (1956) Part copy of JOR’s report on Examinations as an instrument of cultural policy. Cambridge Assessment Archives
  5. ^ Cambridge English Language Assessment (November 2002) Research Notes, Issue 10. [1] / [2] Retrieved 15 April 2014
  6. ^ Hawkey, R. & Milanovic, M. (2013) Cambridge English Exams: The First Hundred Years, Cambridge University Press, p.25
  7. ^ Cambridge English Language Assessment (November 2002) Research Notes, Issue 10. [3] / [4] Retrieved 15 April 2014
  8. ^ Hawkey, R. & Milanovic, M. (2013) Cambridge English Exams: The First Hundred Years, Cambridge University Press, p.325
  9. ^ Accessed 16 March 2018
  10. ^ Accessed 17 February 2018
  11. ^ Accessed 17 February 2018
  12. ^ Accessed 31/03/2016
  13. ^ Retrieved 15 March 2018
  14. ^
  15. ^ Accessed 16 March 2018

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