What is CPE?
Cambridge English: Proficiency is a very advanced level of exam, the fifth and highest level of Cambridge exams in general English. This exam is set at Level C2 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for modern languages.
Who is the CPE exam for and why should I take it?
The CPE exam is suitable for learners who have reached a high level of English and are approaching a standard of English similar to a native speaker. Candidates should be able to function effectively in almost any situation.
A CPE certificate has no expiration date. However, some institutions have their own language requirements or policies on how recent they require exam results to be. They may ask you for evidence that you have maintained or improved your level of English since you took your exam. Speak to the institution you are applying to and confirm their individual requirements.
CPE is a truly international certificate, recognised around the world for business and study purposes. Thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise CPE as a proof of proficiency in English.
What is the format of the exam?
CPE has 4 papers:
Reading and Use of English: 1 hour 30 minutes
You will need to be able to understand the meaning of written English at word, sentence, paragraph and whole text level. Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you can control your grammar and vocabulary and how well you can summarise information.
Writing: 1 hour 30 minutes
You will have to show you can produce a number of different items such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report or a composition, each of about 300—350 words.
Listening: 40 minutes, approx.
You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including lectures, news programmes and public announcements.
Speaking: 16 minutes
You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in groups of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates, and by yourself.
Reading & Use of English carries 40% and the rest of the tests each carry 20% of the total mark.
Candidates can access their results through the Cambridge English Results website. For paper-based exams, these will be available after 4 to 6 weeks. For computer-based exams, they will be available after 2 to 3 weeks.
From 2015, results will be reported on the new Cambridge English Scale (replacing the candidate profile and standardised scores). You will receive a separate score for each of the five skills (reading, use of English, writing, listening and speaking). These scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam.
There are three Pass grades – A (score between 220 and 230), B (score between 213 and 219), C (score between 199 and 212) – and two Fail grades – Council of Europe Level C1 (180 and 199) and Not Reported (179 and below).
There is no minimum pass mark for individual papers. The grade is based on the total score of all 5 papers.
Certificates are awarded to candidates who score 180 and above and are despatched approximately 10 days after the results release window has ended. For further information, please visit the Cambridge English website.