About CAE Exam

About CAE Exam

About CAE Exam – Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English

What to expect on the Cambridge CAE exam?

The Cambridge CAE Exam

is an advanced level test for speakers of English at C1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference. It is widely accepted by universities and academic institutes as a measure of the language level necessary for higher education. As such, if you are planning to study here in the UK, the CAE can be an invaluable qualification. C1 is the equivalent of an IELTS exam score of between 6.5 and 8.0 points.

Current CAE Exam Formula – 2015

The CAE tests five key areas of language usage: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Use of English. As of January 2015, the exam format has changed slightly however, with Reading and Use of English modules now being assessed in the same exam paper. As with any Cambridge examination, it is important to be aware of which skills are being tested at each stage. There is a large amount of material to cover in each paper, and knowing what to expect (and what is expected of you) will help you to manage your time efficiently.

English language student with fingers crossed before Cambridge Advanced Exam


CAE Exam – Reading and Use of English Paper

The Reading/Use of English paper is worth 40% of your overall CAE mark and is divided into eight parts.


The Reading sections will test your ability to skim read for gist, scan read for specific information and read carefully for detail, and it will be important for you to recognise which skill is being tested with each text. You will be expected to answer multiple choice comprehension questions, insert missing paragraphs into a text and match ideas across texts. The Use of English section will focus more on your understanding of vocabulary, grammar and idiomatic expressions. You will carry out tasks such as rephrasing sentences, choosing the correct word to fill a gap and using a root word to create a new word.The paper is one hour and thirty minutes long, and it will be crucial to your CAE exam success for you to decide how long you plan to spend on each exercise before you take the test.

CAE Exam – Writing Paper

The Writing paper is worth 20% of your mark, and assesses your ability in four areas: content, communicative achievement, organisation and language. In more basic terms, you are being tested on the information that you include in your written work, your success in delivering your message to the reader and your planning skills, as well as the actual vocabulary and grammar that you use. The paper is divided into two parts; a compulsory essay followed by a choice of tasks, which might include a letter, report, review or proposal. It is one hour and thirty minutes long, and you are expected to write around 250 words for each question.

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CAE Exam – Listening Module

The Listening paper is again worth 20%. It is divided into four parts, which test your ability to listen for specific information, gist, and opinion, as well as to place what you hear into a context. You will be able to listen to each extract twice, and will need to answer multiple choice questions, complete missing information and assign opinions to different speakers.

CAE Exam – Speaking Part

The Speaking paper is often held on a different day to the other three papers. It is worth 20% of your overall mark, and like the listening paper it is divided into four parts. The speaking paper is usually taken with another candidate.

Speaking part 1

The first part of the test consists of a short interview with the examiner, who will ask you a few questions about your life and interests. You are expected to talk for around two minutes.

Speaking part 2

For the second part, you will be given a set of three pictures and asked to speak about two of them. You must speak for around a minute, after which the other candidate must comment on what you have said. They will then speak about another set of pictures, after which you will be invited to comment. You are expected not only to describe, but also to compare and speculate on what you see.

Speaking part 3

During the third part of the test, you must discuss a topic with the other candidate, and negotiate in order to reach an agreement with them. You will have around three minutes to do so, and are expected to exchange opinions, speculate and negotiate.
The final part is similar, but is a freer discussion without the obligation to reach a decision. You will have around five minutes to talk with the other candidate and should try to demonstrate listening as well as speaking skills in English.

The Cambridge Advanced English Exam is not an easy undertaking, and preparing may seem like a daunting task. It is worth remembering that whilst a thorough knowledge of the language at C1 level is required, your exam technique and timing may also have much to do with your success or failure. As such, it is highly advisable to take a CAE exam preparation course beforehand. There are also countless resources available online and in bookshops in the form of practice papers, study guides and help forums.


Good luck on your CAE exam!

CAE Test centres in London

– List of Cambridge Examination Centres in London

CAE Exam preparation courses

Looking for a CAE exam preparation course in London? Have a look at Advanced English Courses at Link School of English:
– CAE Exam Courses in London

Not sure which English exam to choose? Find out more about other English tests and exams:

Related CAE preparation study materials

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