You are here: Language Travel Guide : Official language exams : English : CPE


CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English)

The "proficiency" is the highest level Cambridge exam and requires a very good command of both the written and spoken language. Having proficiency level in the language means being almost as much at ease using English as your mother tongue.

Choose the CPE exam if :

  • You wish to travel or work abroad in a domain which requires an excellent command of the language and of specific expressions.
  • You manage to enrich your own vocabulary autonomously and can correct your own grammar mistakes
  • You get by in all situations of everyday life as well as in your professional life

What does the CPE exam consist of ?

1. Reading comprehension (90 minutes)
The reading comprehension exam evaluates your ability to read and understand texts taken from books, newspapers or magazines. On the one hand, you need to show that you have an excellent understanding of the whole text, the paragraphs, sentences and words themselves and on the other hand, to be clear about the organisation and the structure of the text, the development of ideas and the questions raised by the author of the text.

2. Written expression (120 minutes)
The written expression exam evaluates your capacity to write standard texts, such as letters, articles, summaries or critiques on a given subject and for a target audience. The answers need to be of around 300-350 words.

3. English in Use (90 minutes)
The "English is Use" exam evaluates your knowledge of the syntax of the language, by asking you to fill in cloze tests, to choose the right answer, to complete a text, to write a text from notes, to answer comprehension questions, etc.

4. Listening comprehension (40 minutes)
This exam evaluates your ability to understand the exact meaning of spoken English from authentic passages (real passages at normal speed). You have to show that you have a precise understanding of the audio passage. You also have to be able to identify and interpret the context and to have a clear idea of the speaker's opinion. The texts are constructed from interviews, announcements, speeches, radio passages, etc.

5. Oral exam (19 minutes)
The oral exam generally takes place with two examiners and another candidate. Firstly, you have to introduce yourself and then answer questions regarding your interests, your professional plans, etc. You can use visual and written aids in order to be able to express yourself for longer. Then you have to complete a common task with the other candidate which leads to a conversation between the candidates and the examiners regarding this task.

To find out the exact dates of the exams and to get further information on the CPE, take a look at the Cambridge ESOL website.