Gateway to International Education


The demand for high-level English language skills is increasing all around the world. Passing Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) shows that you are a high achiever.

Why Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is a badge of excellence:

  • Accepted globally as proof of high achievement. 
    More than 5,000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments around the world accept Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) as proof of high-level achievement. 
  • A certificate with endless opportunities. 
    Helps you develop the language skills you need for success, and can be used for your university and student visa applications in the UK and Australia.
  • It provides high-level English skills for academic and professional success. 
    Preparing for Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) helps learners develop the skills to make the most of studying, working and living in English-speaking countries.

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is a thorough test of all areas of language ability. 

The updated exam (for exam sessions from January 2015) is made up of four papers developed to test your English language skills. You can see exactly what’s in each paper below. 

The Speaking test is taken face-to-face, with two candidates and two examiners. This creates a more realistic and reliable measure of your ability to use English to communicate.

Exam format at a glance: 



(% of total)


Reading and Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes)

8 parts/56 questions


Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as fiction, newspapers and magazines. Tests your use of English with different types of exercise that show how well you can control your grammar and vocabulary.


(1 hour 30 minutes)

2 parts


You create two different pieces of writing, such as essays, letters/emails, proposals, reports and reviews.


(about 40 minutes)

4 parts/30 questions


Tests your ability to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as interviews, radio broadcasts, presentations, talks and everyday conversations.


(15 minutes per pair of candidates)

4 parts


Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. You will take the Speaking test with another candidate.

The exam is available as a: 

  • paper-based test 
  • computer-based test
Reading and Use of English:

Parts 1–4

  • Read extensively to build up a wide range of vocabulary in different contexts. 
  • Check your spelling in all parts of the test. 
  • Make sure you transfer your answers to your answer sheet as you finish each part. 
  • Read the surrounding context before giving an answer. 
  • Read the instructions, the information about the texts, the titles and the texts before starting to answer. 
  • Read the texts again to check your answers make sense. 
  • Check that the answer has the right meaning and that it fits in with both the local grammatical context and with the text as a whole (Parts 1, 2 and 3). 

Parts 5–8

  • Read the instructions very carefully – they set the scene and give you initial orientation.
  • Skim through the text for general understanding. 
  • Highlight or underline important words in the questions. 
  • Decide what type of question you are answering and then employ the correct reading skill, especially in the multiple-choice part. 
  • Link the questions to areas or sections in the text before reading closely.
  • Remember that questions come in the same order as the answers in the text in the multiple-choice part of the paper. 
  • Experiment with the order of the parts and the questions within the parts. Come back to them later, if necessary. 
  • Select your answer based on meaning and then check that it fits with the language in the text. Use the coherence and cohesion in the text to help you with this. 
  • Use a wide context in the text to help you find answers. Do not read narrowly or just a few lines before and after the point where you find your answer. 
  • Use paraphrasing of ideas rather than individual words in the questions to help you identify the answer in the text.
  • Check that your selected answer fully answers the question and not only in part. 
  • Answer all the questions – no marks are deducted for incorrect answers. 
  • Decide why the three ‘distractors’ are wrong in each multiple-choice question and make sure the extra paragraph does not fit (Part 7). 
  • Reread the whole text when you have placed all the paragraphs (Part 7).

Parts 1–4

  • Don’t leave any questions unanswered.
  • Don’t give alternative answers for any questions.
  • Don’t wait until the end to copy all your answers on to your answer sheet.
  • Don’t copy the words on to your answer sheet. Only one letter (A, B, C or D) is necessary (Part 1). 

Parts 5–8

  • Don’t use your world knowledge or personal opinions to answer the questions. 
  • Don’t select an answer after reading only one section in the multiple-matching parts of the paper. 
  • Don’t spend too much time on any one part of the paper. 
  • Don’t forget to transfer all your answers to the answer sheet. 
  • Don’t be put off by or get stuck on difficult vocabulary – it may become clear by reading on or by later rereading. 
  • Don’t reread every section for every question (Parts 5 and 8)
  • Read the task carefully and plan an answer which addresses all the content points of the task. Try to develop each point fully. 
  • Demonstrate a good range of vocabulary and structures as well as writing accurately to get a good mark. 
  • Consider who the ‘target reader’ is and the genre (e.g. newspaper article, formal letter) for each question and try to write in an appropriate style and tone. 
  • Think carefully about whether the task requires you to persuade or justify your opinion and make sure you do this in your answer. 
  • Read the opening paragraphs and instructions in Part 1 very carefully to make sure you know what your role is and who you are writing to. (Part 1) 
  • Plan your answer. Remember, you do not necessarily need to use all the input information. Usually, part of the task is to select the appropriate information. (Part 1) 
  • Try to use your own words when using information from the input. (Part 1) 
  • Select your question carefully. Consider the vocabulary, grammatical structures and register required by the task. (Part 2) 
  • Allow time to check through what you have written.
  • Don’t write answers that are much longer than the word limit as this means you may have included a lot of irrelevant material. Plan your answer carefully to avoid this. 
  • Don’t use a pencil.
  • Listen to and read the instructions to understand what you have to do. 
  • Think about the topic, the speaker(s) and the context as you read the questions. 
  • Use the pause to read the questions and try to predict the answers. 
  • Remember that the order of information matches between the information/questions on the page and the order of information in the recording. 
  • Check your answers during the pause between the first and second listening. 
  • Copy your answers carefully onto the answer sheet and check that you have followed the numbering correctly. 
  • Try to use the actual words you hear on the tape (Part 2). 
  • Check that your answer makes sense in the gap. Look at the information both before and after the gap when checking your answer. (Part 2) Check that your answer is correctly spelled (Part 2). 
  • Copy only the missing words onto the answer sheet (Part 2). 
  • Read through both tasks in multiple matching in the pause before you hear the recording for the first time (Part 4). 
  • Remember that there are two questions for each speaker (Part 4).
  • Don’t try to write very long answers. 
  • Don’t worry if you miss a question. Continue with the next question then listen again for the missing information when you hear the recording for the second time. 
  • Don’t leave a blank space on the answer sheet. If you are not sure, guess. 
  • Don’t repeat information which is already in the sentences. (Part 2) 
  • Don’t panic. There is plenty of time to write your answers as you listen. (Part 2)
  • Speaking:
  • Do
  • Show you can communicate effectively. 
  • Give full and extended responses. 
  • Raise the level of your language above the ordinary. 
  • Listen carefully to what the examiner has asked you to do. 
  • Remember the instructions and focus on the task set. 
  • Speculate on the content of the visual material, even if you are not sure what they show. 
  • Involve your partner in the conversation and create opportunities for them to speak.


Universities, employers and immigration authorities may need you to provide proof of your English ability at a specified level. Find out more about understanding your results. 

If you are successful in the exam you will receive two documents: a Statement of Results and a certificate. Universities, employers and other organisations you apply to may ask you for either of these documents asproof of your English language skills

Statement of Results 

Your Statement of Results contains three pieces of information: 

1. Your candidate result based on your total score in all five papers

2. Your grade based on the total score you achieve. There are set scores for each grade:


Score (/100)

CEFR level










CEFR Level B2



3. Your candidate profile, showing your performance in each paper against the scale: 

  • Exceptional
  • Good
  • Borderline
  • Weak 

Depending on which university, college or organisation you are applying to, you may be asked to achieve aspecific score or grade. Organisations may also ask you for a particular candidate profile if they need you to have a specific level of English in one of the five skills tested.

Understanding your results

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is targeted at Level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the internationally accepted system for describing language ability. 

The examination also provides reliable assessment at the level above C1 (Level C2) and the level below (Level B2).

How Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grades and CEFR levels compare



From January 2015, Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) results will be reported on the new Cambridge English Scale (replacing the current candidate profile and standardised scores).

You will receive a separate score for each of the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and use of English, giving you a clear understanding of your performance. These five scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam. You will also be given a grade and Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level.

All candidates receive a Statement of Results, and if you are successful in the exam you will also receive a certificate

Statement of Results 
Your Statement of Results contains the following information:

  • your score on the Cambridge English Scale for each of the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and use of English 
  • your score on the Cambridge English Scale for the overall exam 
  • your grade (A, B, C, Level B2) for the overall exam 
  • Your CEFR level for the overall exam. 

Depending on which university, college or organization you are applying to, you may be asked to achieve a specific score or grade, either overall or for a particular skill. For Cambridge English: Advanced, the following scores will be used to report results:

Cambridge English Scale Score 


CEFR level


Grade A 



Grade B



Grade C



Level B2 


The exam is targeted at Level C1 of the CEFR. The examination also provides reliable assessment at the level above C1 (Level C2) and the level below (Level B2).

Scores between 142 and 159 are also reported for Cambridge English: Advanced. You will not receive a certificate, but your Cambridge English Scale score will be shown on your Statement of Results. 

The relationship between the CEFR levels, the Cambridge English Scale and the grades awarded in Cambridge English: Advanced is illustrated below: