The Certificate of Proficiency in English or CPE as it’s referred to
is the most advanced general English exam provided by the University of
Cambridge ESOL examinations. The level of English of those who have
passed the CPE exam is considered to be similar to that of a fairly
educated native speaker of the English language.
CPE is ideal for those who want to work or study abroad or those who
have decided to venture into a career that requires language skills such
as business, medicine and teaching English.
The CPE certificate is recognized by many universities and employers
throughout the world.
If your knowledge of English is at a level where you can use it to
advise on or talk about complex and sensitive issues and understand
the finer points of reports and correspondence, you could benefit from
a CPE certificate.
Cambridge ESOL department is world-famous and attaining one of its
certificates is an achievement in its own right but in addition to
that the CPE certificate is valid for life and is recognized for business
and study and teaching purposes all around the world .
CPE is a valid way of showing your proficiency in the English language
to employers, universities and government departments.
CPE can be taken in June and December
In the Common European Framework of Reference for Language, CPE
is ranked at the C2 level. This means that whoever passes the CPE
- Understand virtually everything they hear and read without difficulty
- Make accurate and complete notes during presentation
- Understand colloquial asides
- Talk about complex and sensitive issues without awkwardness
- Express themselves precisely and fluently
The CPE exam comprises of five parts
Reading (1 hour and 30 minutes): the reading part of the exam
assesses the candidates ability to read and understand texts taken from
a wide range of sources, including fiction and non-fiction books,
journals, newspapers and magazines. The candidate is expected to
understand the meaning of English at word, phrase, sentence, paragraph
and whole text level.
Writing (2 hours): the written part of the test examines the
ability to write non-specialized texts types such as letters, articles,
reports and reviews for a given purpose and target reader, covering a
wide range of topics. The paper also includes questions on set texts
with responses being between 300-350 words in length.
Use of English (1 hour and 30 minutes): in this part of the
test the candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and
control of the language system by completing various tasks at word,
sentence and text level. This can include gap-filling and word formation
exercises, comprehension questions and a summary writing task.
Listening (approx. 40 minutes): the listening paper assesses
the ability to listen and understand spoken language taken from a wide
variety of sources such as interviews, discussions, lectures and
conversations. This will test the ability to understand the meaning
of spoken English, to extract the right information from a spoken text
and to understand the speakers’ attitudes and opinions.
Speaking (approx. 19 minutes): this part will test the candidates’
ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts.
The speaking test consists of 3 parts, an interview section, a
collaborative task and individual long turns with follow up discussions.
Candidates are provided with picture and written stimuli and normally
take the speaking test in pairs.
There is a range of material available to the candidates in order to
prepare for the examinations. These include short booklets, information
for candidates, sample papers including listening test material.
Publishers have also produced a wide range of books and aids to help
candidates prepare for the CPE. Candidates may also want to take part
in preparatory courses offered by language schools to get ready for
their Cambridge Proficiency test.
Exam papers are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and the results
are then sent back to the test centre. Each part of the test
carries 20% of the total marks.
The Pass grades are A, B and C – and those who reach these levels
will be awarded a Cambridge Proficiency Certificate. Those achieving
D or E do not receive a certificate.
Many language schools offer courses to prepare you for the CPE exam .These courses prepare the candidates completely for all elements of the examination. That includes the Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking sections.
The courses include intensive practice in examination techniques and practice examinations with feedback from the teacher.
CPE courses are at an advanced level and you will have to be at or close tothat level to be able to take part in the course. Most schools offer normal and intensive CPE preparation courses and some can include extra conversation classes. Classes are usually 20 hours per week for a period of 4, 8 or 12 weeks.