What Makes a Good Test
- Teaching qualifications
- Tips & Strategies
If you’re looking for a way to confirm your English level with an international language certificate, it is no secret that one of the most popular options are Cambridge exams. C1 Advanced (CAE) is one of them. As it can be clear from its name, the exam is meant to prove your advanced level of English. Yet, if you pass it with flying colours and get a higher score, you will be granted the C2 level, while even scoring less than required for C1 may result in level B2.
This certificate has no expiry date (unlike IELTS and TOEFL, for example), and it is acknowledged in a number of schools, universities, and other organisations in the whole world. It comes as no surprise that it is a great choice of ESL teachers who aspire to confirm their knowledge of English and to reassure their employers, students, and even themselves.
This is your quick guide to the exam, which will give you an insight into the skills tested, structure, and some tips.
Reading and Use of English
Time: 90 mins
Paper 1 consists of 8 tasks, five of each test reading skills:
and Use of English:
Even though they’re all included in one paper, they are assessed separately, so there will be two scores on your certificate.
This paper is mainly aimed at the candidate’s reading comprehension, their ability to derive the meaning from the text, understanding of a text structure, cohesion and coherence, as well as grammar and vocabulary in context.
As for Use of English, remember that just being aware of grammar and lexis isn’t enough: you should be flexible and attentive to the context, so practise paraphrasing, using synonyms, collocations and idioms;
Time: 90 mins
This paper consists of 2 parts. The first one is a compulsory essay. You will need to present your ideas on the task topic, cover two points out of three and give a conclusion. There are also some notes with arguments that you may use if you want, but it’s optional – you can always stick to your own ideas.
The second part will provide you with three tasks to choose from.
Remember: you only need to choose one! It can be a letter (formal or informal), report, proposal, or review. Although the whole paper lasts 90 minutes, both parts carry an equal amount of scores, so it is strongly recommended to spend 45 minutes on each task.
Note: if you’re taking a computer-based exam, your word count will be visible to you, which is a significant advantage!
Time: 40 minutes
Paper 3 consists of 4 parts:
The recordings are played twice. Mostly, the tasks test the skill of listening for gist, detail, focus on feeling, attitude, opinion, function, interpreting context, etc.
Time: 15 minutes
The final paper is done with two (sometimes three) candidates and two examiners, one of which is the interlocutor. There are 4 parts.
They have one minute to answer both questions by comparing and speculating about two pictures of their choice as well as answer a brief question about their partner’s picture.
They have 2 minutes (3 minutes for a group of 3) to discuss the question and then 1 minute (2 minutes for three candidates) to come to an agreement.
The final part lasts 5 minutes (8 minutes for a group) and involves more abstract and thought-provoking questions unlike part 1, so the candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to discuss topics in more depth.
Paper 4 tests candidates’ ability to talk on familiar and unfamiliar topics, listen and react to their partners, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.
By the way, if you want to do the exam with a friend or just someone you know, you can ask some exam centres about such an option during the registration.
Naturally, it is advised to prepare for the exam by practising with past papers and exam trainers. The Cambridge website provides a free sample (paper-based and computer-based format), a very helpful and informative handbook and lesson plans with materials, where you will find much more details about each paper and recommended strategies.
We also recommend you take the "Hacking CAE/CPE writing" course on our platform. This course is designed to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively teach exam writing for the CAE/CPE.
Throughout the course, you will cover a wide range of writing types, from opinion essays to letters and emails, and you will develop a better understanding of the assessment criteria used in the CAE/CPE exams. Get equipped with the tools and strategies needed to plan and teach writing lessons, provide feedback, and utilise self- and peer-assessment effectively.
Take your writing instruction to the next level
Additionally, the course addresses the challenges of teaching exam writing and includes a CAE/CPE assessment checklist and tips for preparing learners. A toolkit is also provided for teaching exam writing at various stages of exam preparation, making this course a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in teaching exam writing for the CAE/CPE.
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