|EE-003|CAE – C1 Advanced

Hello Exam Seekers,

I’ve been posting about the Cambridge English Main Suite for a while now, which is a series of exams from Cambridge Assessment English that follows the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference). The Main Suite ranges from 120-230 points in the Cambridge English Scale as you can see below.

Cambridge English Main Suite
Cambridge English Main Suite

I’ve already talked about the KET – A2 Key and the PET – B1 Preliminary, which are levels specifically made for teens who are not children anymore, but they are not still ready to take a B2 level exam. Then, I posted some info about the FCE – B2 First, formerly known as First Certificate in English (FCE) which is an Exam prepared for teens (For Schools version) and adults.

Today I am going to talk about the CAE – C1 Advanced, formerly known as Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) a higher level exam that was created specifically for adults (there is no For Schools version).

What are the differences between the B2 First and the C1 Advanced?

Both qualifications prove that you have the language skills to live and work independently in an English-speaking country or study on courses taught in English. However, there are some reasons why a person would choose a C1 level qualification instead of a B2. So, before I talk specifically about the CAE, we need to understand the differences between the C1 Advanced to the B2 First levels.

While the B2 First qualification is accepted for entry to foundation/pathway/pre-sessional courses in English-speaking countries, and also accepted for entry to undergraduate programs taught in the medium of English in non-English-speaking countries, the C1 Advanced qualification is accepted by over 9,000 educational institutions, businesses, and government departments, and it opens doors to international travel, work and study.

The B2 First is the most popular, however, the C2 Advanced is more difficult and it is accepted in more places, due to its Cambridge English Scale level:

B2 First CEFR level
B2 First CEFR level
C1 Advanced CEFR level
C1 Advanced CEFR level

You can check where these certificates are accepted on the Cambridge website.

What does Cambridge English: Advanced involve?

The C1 Advanced exam is divided into four sections: Reading and Use of English, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. Each section is composed of different parts, and each one carries different marks, as you can see below:

C1 Advanced
C1 Advanced
  • Reading and Use of English consist of 56 questions divided into eight parts. You have up to 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish the exam.
    • Parts 1-3: you have texts from/for which you have to choose, supply missing words, or form new words.
    • Part 4: you have to write sentences in a different way.
    • Parts 5-8: you again have a text, from which you have comprehension tasks: multiple-choice, gapped text with missing paragraphs, and multiple matching.

  • Writing consists of two parts, in which you are asked to write two different types of texts. For both parts, you are required to write 220-260 words. You have up to 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish writing both texts.
    • Part 1: you read a text, then write an essay based on points included in the text. You’ll be asked to explain which of the two points is more important, and to give reasons for your opinion.
    • Part 2: You write a text from a choice of text types – letter/email, proposal, report or review. To guide your writing, you’ll be given information about context, topic purpose and target reader.
  • Listening consists of 30 questions divided into four parts. The tracks will be played twice before moving on to the following piece. The full recording takes approximately 40 minutes, and all questions carry one mark for each correct answer.
    • Part 1: two multiple-choice questions for each of three short conversarions. You have to choose A, B or C.
    • Part 2: complete the sentences from a 3-minute monologue.
    • Part 3: multiple-choice questions for a 4-minute conversation. You have to choose A, B, C or D.
    • Part 4: five 30-second monologues. On the question paper, there are two tasks and for each task you have to match each of the five speakers to one of eight possible answers.
  • Speaking consists of a 16-minute talk divided into four parts. The exam should be done in pairs or a trio.
    • Part 1:  brief introductory exchanges for 2 minutes. The examiner will ask questions to each of the candidates individually. You may have to give information about your interests, studies, careers, etc.
    • Part 2:  you have to speak for 1 minute without interruption about 2 out of 3 pictures provided to you, the interlocutor then asks the other candidate to comment on what you have said for about 30 seconds. After that, it’s your turn to comment on your peer’s long turn. The questions you have to answer about your photographs are written at the top of the page to remind you what you should talk about.
    • Part 3: you will discuss some ideas based on written prompts with the other candidate for 2-3 minutes. After the discussion, the examiner will ask you another question which requires you to make a decision. You have 1-2 minutes to make a decision.
    • Part 4: you will discuss for 5 minutes the topics from part 3 in more depth.

Paper-based or computer-based?

You can choose how you are taking this exam. There are not many differences, but you should think about which one is best for you. We usually take paper-based mocks so you might be more familiar with the hand-written model. However, if you have difficulties in writing and you believe you don’t have good handwriting, maybe you should opt for the computer-based exam, which is better in a way since it takes a shorter time to be graded. Therefore it provides you with the certificate much sooner, since it doesn’t have to be sent to Cambridge. But it’s definitely up to you.

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How are the grades calculated and the Certificates awarded?

Your overall performance is calculated by averaging the scores you achieve in Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Use of English. The weighting of each of the four skills and Use of English is equal.

CAE Cambridge Scale
CAE Cambridge Scale

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 C1 Advanced. You will not receive a certificate, but your Cambridge English Scale score will be shown on your 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 grade (A, B, C, Level B2) for the overall exam;
  • your CEFR level for the overall exam.

The Statement of Results and the Certificates are normally sent to exam centers within three months of the exam, but you can get your results sooner at Cambridge English Results Online.

CAE - C1 Advanced Certificate
CAE – C1 Advanced Certificate
CAE- C1 Advanced Certificate
CAE- C1 Advanced Certificate

How much does it cost? Is it even worth it?

When you register for the C1 Advanced, you will need to pay a fee of around €150, but it varies depending on the currency and the center. For that reason, on the Cambridge website, you can find a center near you and check all the requirements and values accurately.

Independently of the price it is a certificate worth having because it shows the worlds that you can

  • follow an academic course at university level;
  • communicate effectively at a managerial and professional level;
  • participate with confidence in workplace meetings or academic tutorials and seminars;
  • express yourself with a high level of fluency.

Also, it is a certificate that does not expire, so the price is fair!

How to study for the CAE?

You can take a course, or study by yourself using books provided by Cambridge Assessment English:

C1 Advanced - CAE Book
CAE – C1 Advanced – Student Book
CAE - C1 Advanced Workbook
CAE – C1 Advanced Workbook

You can buy the Objective Advanced Student Book / Workbook here (or in BRAZIL: Student Book / Workbook).


Well, I will be talking more extensively about each part in the following posts. However, should you have any questions about the exams, feel free to leave a comment and ask! I’d love to hear from you and help you out with whatever you may want to know about them!


That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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