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Cambridge English - Proficiency

Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or Cambridge English: Proficiency is an English language qualification, offered by Cambridge English Language Assessment, to show achievement of an extremely high level of English. The CPE test began in 1913 and was the first English as a Foreign Language qualification to be provided by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). The Cambridge Proficiency exam is the hardest of the Cambridge exams.

The Cambridge English: Proficiency proves that a candidate is fluent in English and can read, speak, listen and communicate easily. The test is set at Level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Referring to this level means a candidate can:
  • Have good knowledge of the language to read and interpret academic material of more advanced than the average speaker, including PG and PhD programmes
  • Discuss, negotiate and persuade efficiently at senior management level in international businesses
  • Converse about complex or sensitive issues
  • Jot down confidently on any subject.
CPE is acknowledged and accepted around the globe by many corporate and educational institutions as evidence that a candidate has become proficient in English to an exceptional degree.

The CPE exam consists of four papers, which tests the 4 language skills- Listening, Reading, Writing,  Use of English, and Speaking.

Recognition

Cambridge English: Proficiency is acknowledged by many higher education institutions, employers, and governments worldwide. It covers all major varieties of English (for e.g. American English and British English). To know about the institutions and organizations that accepts CPE, click on the link Cambridge English.

Dates and Deadlines

The Cambridge English: Proficiency exam is available in two formats: paper-based and computer-based. The Listening, Reading Writing and Use of English, papers are held on the same day while the Speaking exam is held a few days earlier or subsequently the other papers.

Your centre will fix up the date for your Speaking test. You will take this test up to a number of days before or after the other papers.  To know about the exact dates and deadlines, visit CPE.

CPE Structure

Paper 1- Reading and Use of English
The Reading and Use of English paper is available as a paper-based test and its worth is 40% of the total score. Sections 1 to 4 emphasize on the Use of English and knowledge of grammar and lexis. Sections 5 to 7 concentrate on reading and understanding of the text.
  • Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • No. of Sections: 7
  • Total No. of Questions: 53
Section 1: Comprises of 8 multiple-choice questions. It requires the candidates to fill in the gaps of the text presented with appropriate word or phrase. One mark is allotted for each correct answer.

Section 2: Comprises of a text with 8 blanks and candidates are asked to fill in the gaps of the text presented with appropriate words. One mark is allotted for each correct answer.

Section 3: Comprises of a text with 8 gaps and candidates are required to fill in the gaps. One mark is allotted for each correct answer. This section checks the vocabulary of the candidates.

Section 4: Comprises of 6 individual items with an introductory sentence and blanks. Candidates are required to complete the blanks with 3 to 8 words, including the key word given. Two marks are allotted for each correct response.

Section 5: Comprises of 6 multiple-choice questions based on a text given. Candidates are required to select the best possible answer. Two marks are given for each correct response.

Section 6: Consists of a text from which paragraphs have been taken out and are disorderly placed after the text. Candidates have to determine from where in the text the paragraphs have been pulled out. There are total 7 such questions. Two marks are given for each correct answer.

Section 7: Consists of a various short texts that involve 10 multiple-matching questions. Candidates are required to match the stimulus to the components in the text.

Paper 2-Writing
The Writing paper is available as a paper-based test and its worth is 20% of the total score.
  • Sections: 2
  • No. of Questions: Section 1 is compulsory. In Section 2, one question must to be done from a choice of 4
  • Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Section 1: This section is mandatory to complete. Candidates are given 2 texts of 100 words each and required to write an essay of about 240-280 words, which sums up and assesses the main points present within the two texts.

Section 2:  In this section candidates are required to answer one question among the four options given. Their answer must be in about 240-280 words. They are required to write a letter, an article or essay, a report or description, or a review and are evaluated on their composition ability, linguistic ability and thoughts and views about a given subject or topic, and the effect of their writing on the reader.

Paper 3- Listening
The Listening paper is available as a paper-based test and its worth is 20% of the total marks.
  • Number of Sections: 4
  • Total No. of questions: 30
  • Duration: 40 minutes
Section 1: Consists of 4 brief independent recordings of 1 minute each. Candidates are required to listen to the recording and answer 2 multiple-choice questions for each recording. There are total 6 such questions. One mark is given for each correct response.

Section 2: Includes a recording of about 3-4 minutes and 9 incomplete sentences. Candidates are required to fill in the blank in each sentence based on the information given in the recording. 1 mark is given for each correct response.

Section 3: Includes a monologue of about 3-4 minutes and 5 multiple-choice questions to answer. 1 mark is given for each correct response.

Section 4:  Consists of 5 monologues theme-based each lasting for around 35 seconds. It also includes 2 multiple-matching tasks wherein each task comprises of 5 questions. Recordings are taken from several verbal matters such as lectures, interviews, commentary and so on. Candidates are required to understand the essence of the piece presented.

Paper 4- Speaking
The Speaking paper is a face-to-face speaking test and its worth is 20% of the entire score. In this paper, the two candidates are paired together. Also, there are two examiners wherein one examiner acts as both interlocutor and assessor and while the other acts as assessor only.
  • No. of Sections: 3
  • Duration: 16 minutes
Section 1: Involves a little conversation of about 2 minutes with the examiner. The candidates are required to answer the questions asked by the examiner.

Section 2: Involves a collaborative task of about 4 minutes with the other candidate. In this section, the candidates are shown one or more pictures and are asked to answer questions based on those pictures and then carry out a decision-making task with the other candidate.

Section 3: Includes a long monologue and a group discussion. Candidates are given a card with a topic and some ideas. They are required to speak on that topic for nearly 2 minutes. When you complete the other candidate has to make a remark and then the examiner asks a question along the topic given to both the candidates. The same process is repeated with the second candidate, and later the examiner conducts a debate with both candidates.

CPE Registration and Fees

To take Cambridge English Proficiency exam, a candidate will need to register directly with an authorised exam centre. There are over 2,800 centres in 130 countries worldwide.

All of them are inspected by Cambridge English Language Assessment, and meet international standards.
To apply for CPE, follow these steps-

  1. Find an examination or testing centre near your area. Visit Find a Centre to know about the exam centre near you.

  2. Get in touch with your examination or testing centre to know about the registration and fees details.

  3. Apply on time as per the instructions imparted by the exam centre near you. Select the date and type of examination, i.e. paper-based or computer-based.
The fee varies by the location. Contact your local exam centre to know about the fees.

Scoring and Results

A candidate who has passed the CPE examination receives a Statement of Results along with a certificate.

Statement of Results

The Statement of Results includes-
  • Individual and Total Score ( Out of 100) of all 5 papers
  • Grades (A to C)
  • CEFR level
  • Candidate’s performance profile in each paper indicating whether it was ‘Exceptional’, ‘Good’, ‘Borderline’, or ‘Weak’.

Certificate

The candidates who attain grade A, B or C (a score between 60 to 100), gets Certificate of Proficiency in English at Level C2.

 Grade Score (out of 100) CEFR Level
 A 80-100 C2
 B 75-79 C2
 C 60-74 C2
 CEFR Level C1 45-59 C1

The candidates can get their results online as well by registering online at Results Online.  By registering, the candidates will be notified whenever the results are declared and they can log in using their ID number and password and view their results profile.
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