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CERTIFICATE OF PROFICIENCY IN ENGLISH

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What is the Certificate of Proficiency in English?

The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is Cambridge ESOL's most advanced exam.

CPE is at level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This framework uses six levels to describe language ability: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

The CPE is internationally recognised for business and study purposes. And the CPE is valid for life, you will never need to take the exam again.

 

What is the examination like?

The CPE examination has five papers.

  • Paper 1: READING (1 hour 30 minutes) - 40 questions - 4 parts

    Part 1: Three unrelated texts, each with six gaps. Students must choose one answer from four options to fill the gaps.
    How many questions? 18.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise collocations, fixed phrases, idioms, phrasal verbs, complementation, semantic precision.

    Part 2: Four texts on the same subject, each with two multiple-choice questions. Students must choose one answer from four options.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to identify detail, opinion, tone, main idea, implication, text organisation, exemplification, comparison, reference.

    Part 3: A text from which some paragraphs have been removed and placed in jumbled order after the text. Students must identify the correct paragraph for each gap.
    How many questions? 7.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to understand the structure, development and global meaning of a text.

    Part 4: A long text followed by some multiple-choice questions. Students must choose one answer from four options.
    How many questions? 7.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to identify detail, opinion, tone, main idea, implication, text organisation, exemplification, comparison, reference.

    Try our Reading Comprehension Exercises


  • Paper 2: WRITING (2 hours) - 2 questions - 2 parts

    Part 1: Some text to read (around 100 words). Using the information in this material, students must write an essay, a letter, an article or a proposal.
    How many questions? 1 (you must write 300-350 words).
    For this part, you should practise writing a discursive text in which you have to present and defend an argument, express and justify an opinion, explain a problem and suggest a solution, or evaluate ideas and express recommendations.

    Part 2: Students are given four subjects to write about. One option is to write about one of the three set books that students have to read before the exam. Students must write a letter, an article, a review, a report or a proposal.
    How many questions? 1 (you must write 300-350 words).
    For this part, you should practise writing the types of texts specified above.


  • Paper 3: USE OF ENGLISH (1 hour 30 minutes) - 44 questions - 5 parts

    Part 1: A text with 15 gaps. Students must fill in the gaps by writing a single word (no options given).
    How many questions? 15.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary.

    Part 2: A text with 10 gaps. For each line of text, students are given a word that they have to change in some way to fill in the gaps.
    How many questions? 10.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise vocabulary and word-building.

    Part 3: Six questions, each with three sentences. In each sentence there is a missing word. For all three sentences the missing word is the same. Students must write the word that fits the three sentences.
    How many questions? 6.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise vocabulary, collocations, idioms, phrasal verbs, word combinations.

    Part 4: Eight questions, each with one sentence, a key word and then a response sentence with a gap. Using the key word given, students must complete the response sentence in 3-8 words so that it means the same as the first sentence.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary.

    Part 5: Two texts, each with two comprehension questions (no options given). And a last question where students must write a summary of both texts in 50-70 words.
    How many questions? 5.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer to the first four questions, and 14 marks for the summary writing.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary, recognising stylistic devices, selecting information, linking and sentence construction.

    Try our exercises for the Certificate of Proficiency in English


  • Paper 4: LISTENING (40 minutes) - 28 questions - 4 parts

    Part 1: Four short, unrelated recordings lasting 1 minute each. Students must answer two multiple-choice questions for each recording. Each question has three options.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for gist, function, detail, topic, purpose, speaker, addressee, feeling, attitude, opinion.

    Part 2: A monologue lasting 3-4 minutes. Nine sentences with some gaps. Students must write one to three words to fill each gap.
    How many questions? 9.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for specific information.

    Part 3: A recording with interacting speakers lasting 3-4 minutes. Students must answer five multiple-choice questions about the recording. Each question has four options.
    How many questions? 5.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for gist, detail, opinion, inference.

    Part 4: A recording with interacting speakers lasting 2-3 minutes, where they exchange opinions, agree or disagree about something. Students must answer six questions indicating which speaker agrees with the statement given, or if both of them agree.
    How many questions? 6.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for agreement, disagreement, stated and non-stated opinion.

    Try our Listening Comprehension exercises


  • Paper 5: SPEAKING (19 minutes per pair of candidates) - 3 parts

    Part 1 - Interview: Conversation between the examiner and each candidate. The examiner asks questions to each student in turn, about everyday life, work experience, interests or travel. Students are asked to talk about themselves and also to express an opinion about a subject.
    How long? 3 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise giving information about yourself, expressing an opinion, speculating about different topics.

    Part 2 - Collaborative task: The examiner gives spoken instructions and one or more pictures to look at. Students must answer a question related to their reaction to the pictures. Then, there is a decision-making dialogue with the other candidate.
    How long? 4 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise comparing, evaluating, speculating, decision-making, giving an opinion, exchanging information.

    Part 3 - Long turn and discussion: The examiner gives each student a card with a question and some ideas. Students must speak on their own for two minutes. Then the examiner asks each student a question related to what the other student has just said. The same process is repeated with the other candidate. Then the examiner asks both students a question and leads a discussion with them.
    How long? 12 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise speaking on your own for a longer time, developing topics, expressing and justifying an opinion, listening and understanding other students.
  • Summary of the CPE Exam

    Paper Content Time Marks
    Paper 1: Reading 4 parts
    40 questions
    1 hour 30 minutes 20%
    Paper 2: Writing 2 parts
    2 questions
    2 hours 20%
    Paper 3: Use of English 5 parts
    44 questions
    1 hour 30 minutes 20%
    Paper 4: Listening 4 parts
    28 questions
    40 minutes 20%
    Paper 5: Speaking 3 parts 19 minutes 20%

     

    How is the exam marked?

    Each paper carries 20% of the total marks. 

    There are three Pass grades: A, B and C. A is the top mark. Students that reach these grades are awarded a certificate.

    There are two Fail grades: D and E. Students that get these grades will not receive a certificate.

     

    Try our exercises for the Certificate of Proficiency in English

     

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