|EE-008| What is the C2 Proficiency? (former CPE)

Hello Exam Seekers,

So far, I’ve already covered most of the Cambridge English Proficiency Exams:

So today, I’m going to talk about the highest-level qualification that Cambridge can offer you, which proves that you are a highly competent speaker of English, the C2 Proficiency. I’ve already written an overview about the CPE – C2 Proficiency. Make sure you check it out after reading this one, okay?

CPE - Certificate in Proficiency English (C2 Proficiency)

According to Cambridge, a C2 Proficiency qualification shows the world that you have mastered English to an exceptional level. It proves you can communicate with the fluency and sophistication of a highly competent English speaker.

That means that it is not an Exam to be taken lightly. Many people, especially teachers, before sitting for the CPE, spare some time to study for this exam. I can tell from experience because I studied for a year and a half for the C2 Proficiency before actually taking it. The reason for that it is a challenging exam and very long with lots of components. It takes about 4 hours to finish it.

What does Cambridge English: Proficiency involve?

In 2013 the Proficiency Exam had its 100th anniversary, and since then, it has been revised. Most course books from Cambridge are dated from 2013. Therefore, look for books from this year and on so you can study for the new version of this exam, which will help you study for the following components:

  • Reading and Use of English consist of 53 questions divided into seven parts. You have up to 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish the exam.
    • Parts 1-3: there are short texts for which you have to supply a missing word or form a new word.
    • Part 4: it is not text-based and involves rewriting sentences in another way.
    • Parts 5-7: there are longers texts from which you have comprehension tasks: multiple-choice, gapped paragraphs, and multiple matching.
  • Writing consists of two parts, in which you are asked to write two different types of texts. You are required to write 240-280 words in the compulsory question and 280-320 words in the choice-of-four question. You can be asked to write an article, letter, report, or review – including a choice on a set text. You have up to 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish writing both texts.
    • Part 1: it is a mandatory essay where you summarise the main ideas from two short texts.
    • Part 2: you are allowed to choose one among three topics.
  • 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.
    • Part 1: three unrelated recordings lasting approximately 1 minute each which you have to answer two multiple-choice questions for each recording;
    • Part 2: a 3-4 min long speech or lecture where you complete sentences;
    • Part 3: a 3-4 min long discussion with multiple-choice questions;
    • Part 4: two simultaneous matching tasks with five short, themed monologues of approximately 35 seconds each.
  • Speaking consists of a 16-minute talk divided into four parts. The exam should be done in pairs or trio.
    • Part 1: brief introductory exchanges. The examiner will ask questions to each of the candidates individually.
    • Part 2: candidates will work together on a picture-related task.
    • Part 3: a long turn prompted by information on a card.
    • Part 4: candidates will have a two/three-way discussion on related themes in the real world.
Papers with grades: As and Bs

How are the exams assessed and the grades calculated?

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. There are, however, some characteristics of the Speaking and Written exams that you should be aware of:

  • Speaking exam: there are two examiners:
    • The interlocutor, the one who speaks to you, awards you a mark for global achievement.
    • The assessor, the one who just listens at the back, uses five assessment criteria to give you marks: Grammatical Resource, Lexical Resource, Discourse Management, Pronunciation and Interactive Communication.
  • Writing tasks: in both texts you write, they are marked using four criteria: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organization and Language.
Cambridge English CPE (C2 Proficiency) certificate sample
Cambridge English C2 Proficiency certificate sample

Results and Certification

All candidates receive a Statement of Results containing

  • the score according to the Cambridge English Scale for each of the four skills (Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking);
  • a score on the Cambridge English Scale for the overall exam;
  • a grade for the overall exam;
  • the CEFR level for the overall exam.

If you are successful in the exam and achieve an overall score of 200 or more (grade A, B, or C) in the exam, you will receive the Certificate of Proficiency in English at Level C2, like the one above. If your performance is below Level C2 but falls within Level C1, they will recognize your achievement with a Cambridge English certificate stating that you demonstrated ability at C1 level.

Cambridge English CEFR scale for C2 Proficiency
Cambridge English CEFR scale for C2 Proficiency

Scores between 162 and 179 are also reported for C2 Proficiency. You will not receive a certificate, but your Cambridge English Scale score will be shown on your Statement of Results.

Remember that this exam can be paper or computer-based, and it will only affect the time to receive your results. Your Statement of Results is released online, approximately four to six weeks after the exam for paper-based exams, and two to three weeks after the exam for computer-based exams. However, your certificate will arrive at the center you applied for, seven to nine weeks after the date of your paper-based exam, and five to six weeks after your computer-based exam.

How much is the Proficiency Exam? Is it worthy?

It is all about the currency of your country and the center you are enrolled. If you search on google*, it will provide you with these values: €150 (euros), £164 (pounds), $149 (dollars), R$860 (reais), etc. Therefore, find the center near you and give them a call.

Whatever the price is, be sure that it is the best investment you can make to your career because this is the highest-level exam that Cambridge can offer, and passing it proves that you have mastered English to an exceptional level. It helps you to develop the English skills needed to succeed in very high level academic or professional environments.

It is accepted by thousands of leading businesses and educational institutions worldwide, including Nestle, Pilsner and University of British Columbia (Canada). Take pride in your achievement. Passing this exam gives you one of the most valuable English qualifications in the world. It is an achievement to be really proud of.

If you have more questions about the CPE, check the C2: Proficiency – an overview, or comment in the comment section below.


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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*UPDATED in May 20th, 2021. Prices today more expensive.


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