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Why Cambridge English?
To help you prepare for your exam and achieve the result that is right for you, we offer a wide variety of support.
Here you will find Dos and Don’ts, and FAQs for each of the five papers that make up Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking.
You can also find a wealth of free resources, together with past papers to buy, and online practice tests. See the full range of exam preparation resources
How many marks is the Reading paper worth?
Each of the five papers in the exam is worth 40 marks, or 20% of the total.
See more details about the format of the exam
What kinds of texts are included?
The four texts are taken from newspapers, magazines, journals, non-literary books, leaflets, brochures, etc. They are generally authentic but some editing may take place for clarification. They may be informational, descriptive, narrative or discursive. Each text is 550–850 words long with a total of about 3,000 words across the whole paper.
What reading skills are involved?
The tasks test your ability to skim and scan the text in order to:
What kinds of tasks are there?
There are two multiple-choice tasks, one gapped text and one multiple-matching task.
Which is the most difficult part?
The combination of text, tasks and reading skills in each of the parts is different so there is no simple answer to this question.
Past results show that any one of the four parts can be better answered in a session. You need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and prepare accordingly.
How long should I spend on each part of the test?
There are no recommended timings for parts of the test. But you must transfer all your answers to the answer sheet during the 1 hour and 15 minutes of the test.
The tasks do not have to be dealt with in the same order as they appear on the paper. You may feel more confident with certain text or task types and may want to do these first and faster.
Doing some practice tests should help you with timing your answers.
Download a free pack of sample papers (zip file)
Buy the past paper pack for Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
How can I prepare generally?
You should read widely and for interest from the same sources as the texts in the test. You should be able to distinguish different types of writing, and understand the writer’s purpose and the main ideas in the text. This will help you to predict the type of questions you will find in the Reading paper, and increase your confidence about the test itself.
How many questions do I have to answer?
You need to answer two. The question in Part 1 is compulsory and you have a choice of questions in Part 2.
How much do I have to write?
You will need to write 180–220 words for the first question and 220–260 words for the second question.
Can I use a pencil?
No. Answers for the Writing paper must be written in pen.
How much time do I have?
You have 1 hour 30 minutes to do the paper.
Can I have a little extra time at the end of the examination to check my work?
No. As with all the papers, time limits are strictly observed by the examination centre administrators.
How many marks is the Writing paper worth?
Each of the five papers in the exam is worth 40 marks, or 20% of the total. See more details about the format of the exam
How many marks are there for each part?
Both parts are equally important as they carry the same number of marks. See more details about the format of the exam
What kind of texts do I have to write?
There is a range of task types which ask you to write different kinds of texts, including: magazine and newspaper articles, contributions to leaflets and brochures, notices, announcements, formal and informal letters, reports, proposals and reviews.
Where can I find model answers?
There is a range of official preparation materials available that provide model answers. Find them now on the Cambridge University Press website
How many marks is the Use of English paper worth?
The Use of English paper makes up 40 marks or 20% of the total marks of the examination. See more details about the format of the exam
Are marks deducted for incorrect answers?
No, marks are not deducted if candidates give an incorrect answer. A candidate is either awarded the mark for the correct answer or gets no mark if the answer is incorrect. You are advised not to leave any question unanswered.
How do candidates record their answers?
Candidates write their answers on the answer sheets provided by shading a lozenge or by writing words (3–6 words allowed for answers in Part 5). The answer sheet is marked according to a mark scheme and then scanned by computer. You must transfer your answers to the answer sheet within the time given for the paper (1 hour).
How important is spelling in the Use of English paper?
All spelling must be correct in this paper. Candidates will not get a mark for answers which are not spelled correctly. American spelling will not be penalised if used consistently.
What happens if a candidate gives two or more answers to a question?
If a candidate offers two or more answers and one of these is incorrect, no mark is awarded. If all answers given are correct, candidates are awarded the mark for that question. Candidates should write only one answer for each question.
In the open cloze test (Part 2), are words like ‘doesn’t’ and ‘isn’t’ counted as one or two words?
Two words. To count the number of words, you should take the full form into account, e.g. ‘didn’t’ = ‘did not’ = two words.
What aspects of listening are tested in the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Listening test?
You may be tested on your understanding of gist, main points, detail or specific information, or your ability to deduce meaning from a text. You may listen to monologues or interacting speakers from a variety of sources.
How many times do candidates hear each text?
You will hear each text twice.
How do candidates record their answers?
You must write all your answers on a separate answer sheet. You can write on the question paper as you listen, but you must transfer answers to the answer sheet. Five minutes are allocated at the end of the test for candidates to do this.
How many marks are given in the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Listening test?
There are 30 questions in the Listening test and each question carries 1 mark. The total score is then adjusted to give a mark out of 40.
My speaking is much weaker than my writing. Do I have to pass the Speaking test to pass the exam?
No. The final mark on which the grade is awarded is based on the combined score of all of the papers. If you perform poorly on one paper, you can compensate by performing well on the other papers.
Can I be examined by my own teacher?
No. Examiners go through a rigorous process of training and are not allowed to examine their own students or anybody they know socially.
Can I take the test alone?
No. The standard format is two candidates and two examiners. If at the end of the session there is an odd number of candidates, the final group will be a three. Only in exceptional circumstances can a person take the test by themselves.
Why are there two examiners?
Having two examiners ensures fairness as it allows for two independent assessments. Each examiner has a different role. One examiner, the interlocutor, conducts the test and gives a global assessment of your performance. The other, the assessor, does not take part in the interaction, but focuses solely on listening to, and making an assessment of, your oral proficiency.
What happens if the other candidate won’t let me speak?
Examiners are trained to deal with such situations and to provide both of you with equal opportunities to speak. They will ensure that neither of you is disadvantaged by the other. There are also opportunities in the test for you to speak on your own.
What should I do if I do not understand the instructions?
You should ask the examiner to repeat the instructions. You will not be penalised for this. The examiner will be happy to repeat instructions but, for reasons of fairness, they cannot change the way in which they are worded.
We have produced a list of useful tips to help you prepare for both paper-based and computer-based exams.
See our guide to exam day tips
To help you get started, Cambridge English Language Assessment has some free material which you can download:
Download sample papers for Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
This computer-based sample test allows you to see what a full computer-based Cambridge English: Advanced exam will be like, and shows the types of questions that will appear in the live exam.
Try now (you will need to use the Firefox browser), you can download Firefox for free here.
Once downloaded, open Firefox and use the links below to view the three tests.
Watch this tutorial before you try the practice test below, this will help you understand what you need to do.
Use Of English
Check your answers as you do the test – once the test has finished you will not be able to check them.
Use the answer keys below.
Listening Answer Key
Reading Answer Key
Use of English Answer Key
There is no answer key for the Writing Paper, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the Cambridge English: Advanced Handbook.
Examiner’s comments on a Cambridge English: Advanced Speaking test
Detailed comments on the student performances in this video, also including information on the format of the Speaking test and how it is assessed. Download examiners comments.
Download examiner's comments
Information for Candidates
A guide to the exam, with an overview of what is involved, advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.
Download Information for Candidates
Understanding your Statement of Results
Shows you the detailed, meaningful information you will receive once you have taken your exam.
Find out how to understand your results now
Summary regulations for candidates
All the important information you need to know when taking the exam.
Read the regulations for candidates now
How is my speaking assessed?
Read our guide to how speaking is assessed now
Find resources to help you with your exam preparation
Find out more about the format of the exam
Register for Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Find a test centre
To help you prepare for your exam you can find a huge range of official Cambridge English preparation materials – from Cambridge English Language Assessment and Cambridge University Press.
Materials include print and digital resources to help you improve your English skills in all the areas tested.