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Information about the CAE test.
Home / Business Schools / Language tests / CAE
The CAE (Certificate in Advanced English) is the second highest Cambridge ESOL exam (after the CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English)). It corresponds to level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The CAE can either be taken in preparation for the CPE but is also sometimes accepted in its own right for entry into higher education courses which are taught in English. You should check with the universities you wish to apply to as this may vary depending on the subject and institution. It is accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). The test is offered in March, June and December in over 1,000 centres worldwide. The exam must be taken in a centre recognised to administer the Certificate in Advanced English examination (CAE).
The CAE is spilt into 5 parts:
Paper Time Allocated Details
(Paper 1)
1 hour 15 minutes This paper assesses your ability to read and understand a number of texts taken from books, newspapers and magazines. You are expected to be able to show understanding of gist, main points, detail, text structure or specific information, deduce meaning or recognise opinion and attitude.
(Paper 2)
2 hours This paper assesses your ability to write non-specialised text types such as letters, articles, reports and reviews for a given purpose and target reader, covering a range of topics. Responses are of about 250 words in length.
Use of English
(Paper 3)
1 hour 30 minutes In this paper, you are expected to demonstrate knowledge and control of the language system by completing various tasks at text and sentence level, based on authentic texts. This will include gap-filling, error correction, word formation, register transfer and text completion exercises.
(Paper 4)
40 minutes (approx.) This paper assesses your ability to understand the meaning of spoken English and to extract detailed and specific information from the spoken text and to understand speakers' attitudes and opinions. The texts are taken from a variety of text types including interviews, discussions, lectures and conversations.
(Paper 5)
15 minutes The Speaking Test assesses your ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts. It contains four parts, including an interview section, individual long turns, a collaborative task and a discussion. You are provided with stimulus materials such as photographs and drawings You will normally take the Speaking Test in pairs.
(Source: University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations)
Each section is worth 40 points and thus there are 200 points available in total. Only the total score is counted and not the individual scores. That is you do not have to pass all sections satisfactorily to pass the exam as a whole. However it is of course a good idea to do your best!
Papers are graded from A-E with D and E being a fail. The percentages required for each grade varies depending on how hard range individual papers are. However as a rough guide, the grades fall into the following ranges:
Grade A    80% and above
Grade B    75% to 79%
Grade C    60% to 74%
Grade D    55% to 59%
Grade E    54% and below
Results are issued about 2 months after the test by the centre where you took the test. Certificates are issued about 6 weeks later.
Fees and conditions
The test fees are set by each centre individually. However you can expect to pay between €140-180, although this may vary.
If you are not happy with your grade you may register to take the test again. As each exam is independent of the other, only the grade for that exam will appear on your certificate. However, test fees will be charged each time.
Which universities recognise the CAE for entry into courses taught in English?
A list of universities which accept this qualification can be found by searching the Cambridge ESOL examinations recognition database.
Where can I download practice materials?
Download Support Materials - CAE
What study materials are available?
There are a number of publishers who offer preparation textbooks. Courses are also available. A list of known books and materials to help you prepare candidates for Cambridge ESOL exams is available here.
When does the test take place?
Exam dates can be found here.
How do I register?
You should register directly with the test centre. Upon registering you will be given full information about the fees for taking CAE, the dates of the tests and other arrangements.
Where are the test centres?
A worldwide list can be found here.
What is the difference between an Open and Internal centre?
Test centres are spilt into 2 groups:
  • Open Centres
    Open centres are authorised to run examinations for all candidates, including those who are not taking a preparation course at the institution that runs the centre. Many open centres also run preparation courses for the Cambridge ESOL exams.
  • Internal Centres
    Internal Centres are authorised to run examinations only for students who are enrolled as students at the institution that runs the centre. They are not able to accept entries from candidates who are not their students.
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