The Certificate of Proficiency in English or CPE, is the most advanced English exam offered by the University of Cambridge ESOL. The level of those who pass this exam should be almost the equivalent of a native speaker.

This qualification is accepted by employers and universities all over the world, so is useful for those who want to study or work abroad and require a high level of English. Once obtained, this qualification never expires. According to the CEFR scale, it is graded at C2 level.

The exam consist of 5 parts:

  • Reading (1 hour 30 minutes) - candidates need to be able to read and understand a wide range of texts, including fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, journals and magazines.
  • Writing (2 hours) - candidates need to be able to write letters, reviews, articles and reports on a wide range of subjects. This sections also includes questions on set texts.
  • Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes) - this section includes gap-fill, word formation exercises, comprehension questions and summary writing tasks.
  • Listening (about 40 minutes) - this sections tests the candidate's ability to understand spoken English (including the speakers' attitudes and opinions) by listening to interviews, discussions, lectures and conversations.
  • Speaking (about 20 minutes) - this test is in 3 parts, and includes an interview section, a collaborative task, and individual speaking time.

Each of the 5 parts is worth 20% of the final mark.

The new form of the exam is coming out in 2013, and this will include the option of taking the exam on a computer (currently it can only be done on paper), and the exam will have 4 parts, each worth 25% of the total mark (Use of English is going to be dropped).

Over 2,700 centres in 130 countries offer the Cambridge University exams, at the Cambridge University exam centres.

Other academic and professional exams offered by Cambridge University are the FCE, the CAE and the IELTS.

If you are studying for your CPE, then my free English reading and listening lessons are perfect for you to practise your comprehension and listening skills.

External Links

University of Cambridge, ESOL examinations (official Cambridge website)

Test your English (to see which exam is the right level for you)

Practice Tests

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