Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
, also known as the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), is an international English language examination developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment
(previously known as University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations). It is targeted at Level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
(CEFR) and can be used for study, work and immigration purposes
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) was first developed in 1991 in response to feedback received from language centres that there was too great a gap between Cambridge English: First (FCE)
and Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
. Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) was designed to allow learners to gain certification for advanced levels of English suitable for use in academic and professional life and was developed using a socio-cognitive approach – that is, it encourages languages skills for use in real-life situations. Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is focused on Level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Following the launch of the exam in 1991, the qualification was updated in 1999, 2008 and 2015 to reflect changes in language teaching and assessment.
In January 2015, another set of revisions were introduced. The main changes are: the overall exam is now 45 minutes shorter; there are four exam papers, instead of five; the Reading and Use of English papers have been combined into a single paper; and there are some new testing focuses and task types. Further information can be found in the revised Exam Specification
In addition, a new way of reporting results has been introduced (effective from January 2015), with Cambridge English Scale
scores replacing the standardised score and candidate profile used for exams taken pre-2015. The Cambridge English Scale was developed to provide exam users with more detailed information about their exam performance than was previously available.
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is made up of four exam papers, designed to test the key language skills. The four papers are: Reading and Use of English; Writing; Listening; and Speaking. Candidates have the choice of taking Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) on either a computer or on paper. The Speaking test is taken face-to-face with two examiners and two candidates, as this provides a more realistic and reliable measure of ability.
1. Reading and Use of English
(1 hour 30 minutes)
The Reading and Use of English paper has eight parts and 56 questions. The paper contains texts totalling approximately 3,000 to 3,500 words and candidates are expected to be able to understand texts taken from a range of sources such as short stories, novels, magazines, newspapers and internet articles.
Parts 1 to 3 involve completing gaps in a text (i.e. choosing/forming the correct word for each gap). These questions test knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Each question in Part 4 has a sentence and a ‘key’ word, which must be used to complete a second sentence so that it has the same meaning as the first sentence. These key word transformations test grammar, vocabulary and collocation.
Part 5 involves answering multiple-choice questions about a text, with candidates expected to be able to read a text for detail, opinion, tone, purpose, main idea, implication and attitude.
Part 6 has four short texts and cross-text multiple-matching questions, with candidates expected to understand and compare opinions and attitudes across texts.
Part 7 involves choosing paragraphs to fill the gaps in a text, with candidates expected to demonstrate understanding of the structure and development of a text.
Part 8 has a text or several short texts and a series of multiple-matching questions, with candidates expected to demonstrate reading for specific information, detail, opinion and attitude.
(1 hour 30 minutes)
The Writing paper has two parts. The first part is compulsory and involves writing an essay in response to an input text. The input texts might include articles, leaflets, notices and formal or informal letters. In the second part, candidates must choose one of three writing tasks. These might include writing a letter, proposal, report or review. Candidates are assessed using the following criteria: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organisation, and Language.
(approximately 40 minutes)
The Listening paper has 30 questions, which include listening to short extracts, a long monologue, an interview or discussion, and short monologues on a particular theme. Candidates are expected to demonstrate a wide range of listening skills needed for real-life purposes, such as understanding the gist of an extract, understanding specific information or the speakers’ opinion, attitude or feeling. Recordings take the form of lectures, talks, interviews, speeches and radio broadcasts.
The Speaking test is taken face-to-face (including in the computer-based version of the exam) and the standard format is two candidates and two examiners. One examiner acts as interlocutor and assessor, interacting with the candidates and managing the test. The other acts as assessor and does not join in the conversation. Candidates speak alone (monologue), with the interlocutor, and with the other candidate.
The Speaking paper is conducted in four parts. The first part involves a brief exchange between each candidate and the interlocutor. The second part involves each candidate talking in turn, on their own, about a set of pictures. In the third part the candidates are given some pictures and a task; they are expected to discuss the task, exchange ideas and reach a decision through negotiation. In the fourth part of the test the candidates and the interlocutor discuss topics related to the task in Part 3. The interlocutor directs the interaction by asking questions which encourage the candidates to discuss issues in more depth than in earlier parts of the test. Candidates are expected to demonstrate a range of speaking skills such as pronunciation, intonation, initiation and maintaining of a discussion, ability to organise thoughts and use of appropriate grammar and vocabulary.
||Cambridge English Scale Score (160–210)
|CEFR Level B2
Scores are also reported between 142 and 159. Candidates who achieve a score in this range will not receive a certificate, but their score will be shown on their Statement of Results.
Pre-2015, the Statement of Results had the following information, reflecting the total combined score from all four papers:
· A grade (A–C) for the overall exam
· A score (out of 100) for the overall exam
· A CEFR level for the overall exam.
||Score (total mark of 100)
|CEFR Level B2
Pre-2015, the Statement of Results also 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. The certificates awarded at each score/grade are outlined below:
Cambridge English Level B2 certificate
· For candidates scoring between 45 and 59.
Certificate in Advanced English – CEFR Level C1
· Grades B and C
· For candidates scoring between 60 and 79.
Certificate in Advanced English – CEFR Level C2
· Grade A
· For candidates scoring between 80 and 100
· Awarded to exceptional candidates who show ability beyond Level C1.