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CPE Test and Certification

The CPE, Certificate of Proficiency in English, represents the highest degree of proficiency in English awarded by University of Cambridge ESOL to non-native speakers. Those who pass the CPE have a language level that is comparable to that of a native speaker. This is the most coveted and sought-after qualification, especially for international students for whom English is not their mother-tongue. The certificate is beneficial for a number of purposes, both academically and professionally. Students who achieve this qualification boast an excellent knowledge of English language and demonstrate a high level of understanding in all key areas of the language.

Advantages of CPE Certification?

  • It is the highest certificate of competence achievable by a non-native speaker.
  • There is no expiry date, and is applicable for many years to come!
  • It is highly coveted by universities, institutions and business where fluency in English is a requirement.
  • Registration for the CPE exam is about €150 (varies according to exam center).

Information about the CPE

From January 2015, the CPE qualification consists of 4 tests, with each one making up 25% of the final score.  There are 3 results that qualify as ‘successful’ – A, B, C. The certification is only issued to candidates obtaining these scores and any other score would not meet the required standard and would not qualify for a certificate. The written tests are sent directly to the University of Cambridge for assessment, whilst the Speaking test is evaluated during the exam by two qualified professionals accredited by Cambridge ESOL. Candidates will receive a certificate that confirms they have been successful upon obtaining the required pass mark.

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1. Reading and Use of Test English (1 hour and 30 minutes)

Reading and Use of English were two separate areas of evaluation for the CPE exam, and have now been combined into one – a single test evaluating language proficiency and reading skills of the candidates. The purpose of this test is to ascertain the level of reading and understanding of text through the use of various excerpts from books, newspapers, magazines and other modern resources. The test consists of completing missing words, using synonyms, construction of complete sentences and detection of errors within the given texts. Candidates must be able to demonstrate, to an extremely high standard, the ability to juggle between texts, written exercises and questions in order to successfully obtain a positive result.

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2. Writing Test (1 hour and 30 minutes)

The CPE Writing Test is designed to assess the candidate’s ability to write different types of texts in their own words, utilising the knowledge they have on the English language. Some of the texts will be in various formats, such as emails, letters, reports, business cases and reviews.

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3. Listening Test (40 minutes)

The Listening Test evaluates an individual’s ability to understand conversations about a variety of topics and to extrapolate the meaning and key points. The texts for the listening test will cover a variety of situations, such as interviews, radio shows, advertising, presentations, lectures etc. and the topics will vary.

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4. Speaking Test (16 minutes)

The CPE Speaking test requires the candidate to actively participate in a conversation that focuses on an array of general topics, whilst demonstrating their vast vocabulary and excellent grasp of the English language.

Exam Results for CPE

Candidates receive an email approximately 2 weeks after sitting for the CPE exam. Candidates will have direct access to the results via the Cambridge English Language Assessment Online Results Service. The access details will be disclosed after you have registered online for the exam

CPE Preparation Courses

CPE Preparation courses give you the ability to target your learning in order to achieve the desired results during the CPE exam. This is one of the toughest and most difficult qualifications to obtain, therefore if you are considering taking this test, we would recommend that you participate in a Preparation course specifically designed to learn the methods and approach to take when sitting for the test. Teachers are all qualified by Cambridge ESOL, and their expertise allows them to follow your progress and grant individual attention to ensure that you can achieve the best possible results. Teachers will identify both your strengths and weaknesses, and will guide you on how to bridge the gaps by focusing on the areas of improvement you require. Student performance is monitored closely, and you are continuously evaluated on a regular basis throughout the CAE Preparation Course. You will be provided with a plan and programme of study that allows you to take responsibility for your own growth and development in the language. Your teachers make every effort to keep supporting and encouraging you throughout your studies and take extra care to ensure that they are providing you with a stimulating and engaging learning environment.

Skills and Strategies

The CPE test is not for those who hope they may be successful in achieving the test simply by having basic knowledge of the English language. The CPE delves into great detail about the language itself, and focuses on the key areas such as speaking, listening, reading and writing. With the Preparation course, you will learn a number of techniques that allow you to complete the four areas of evaluation to the best of your ability by focusing on your oral expression skills, approaches to listening, writing skills and conversational ability, all under the guidance of professional and qualified teachers, along with real exam simulations. You will be have an individual meeting with your allocated teacher, where you can discuss your goals and expectations. Your tutor will be sure to keep you on track, providing you with particular tasks which allow you to identify and bridge the gap in your language weaknesses, and help you practice in a relaxed and friendly environment. Each course also includes a number of extra-curricular activities and although these are optional, we recommend you attend a few! It provides you with the perfect opportunity to practice your English among other international students and expand your social network.

When can I take the CPE Test?

The certification has no expiry date, and allows you to take a preparation course and sit for the CAE exam at your own convenience. Every organisation/ institution requires a minimum score, so be sure to check what the score is before taking the test, so that you can plan your course in advance, and leave plenty of time for preparation and studies.

How can I prepare for the CPE Test?

Taking a CPE Preparation course is one way to ensure that you have prepared for this exam in the most efficient and effective way. We would suggest that you follow a proper and professional CPE preparation course, that encompasses sample papers of previous years and questions that have been developed by experts of international certifications. This course is designed to prepare candidates in a manner that will allow them to achieve a higher score than with any other method of study. The CPE Preparation courses are designed and specifically dedicated to this particular qualification.

Where can I attend a CPE Preparation Course?

We would always recommend attending a course such as this in a country where English is their mother-tongue. It is advised that you select a school or institution that is accredited and has a Preparation course specifically targeted for CAE candidates. Our schools offer this particular course in over 20 destinations, including UK, Malta, USA and Canada. You can find more details by clicking on the links below.

How much does the CPE Test cost?

The cost of a CPE Preparation course will depend on the duration and destination you would like to choose. You can take a look at our prices on each individual destination page, or you may also wish to check out our comparison chart.

Prices and destinations CPE English Exam preparation

The form below allows you to browse the various course prices in different destinations. You can simply send yourself a quote, or even make a direct reservation. The form can be found at the bottom of your selected destination page.

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How to get started?

  1. Select your country of residence
  2. Select your preferred destination
  3. Choose your start date
  4. Select the English Course
  5. Choose the duration
  6. Add accommodation (optional)
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Included in the prices quoted:

Registration fees, textbooks and materials, welcome event and extra-curricular activities, Wi-Fi, attestation of English level, airport transfers (for Malta only).

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Need any more help?

We are available via live chat (bottom right on each page of the site) from Monday to Friday between 09:30 – 17:00. You can also send through an enquiry from our Contact Us page.

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