English certification: all you need to know about the Cambridge English Advanced (CAE)

The CAE, Cambridge English Advanced, is one of the many Cambridge Certificate qualifications. These certifications correspond to different levels: KET (A2), PET (B1), FCE (B2), CAE (C1) and CPE (C2).

Also known as the Certificate in Advanced English, the CAE is recognized in a wide range of countries including England, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Unlike the TOEFL or BULATS, which are only valid for two years, the CAE is valid for life.

What is the purpose of the test? 

The CAE is used to certify a candidate’s level of English. It’s a useful assessment tool for companies and international governmental organizations. This language certification is suited to students wishing to demonstrate they have appropriate language skills for a university or professional environment.

The Cambridge English Advanced certificate allows you to apply to French higher education establishments such as ESSEC, Sciences Po, ENS or HEC Paris. It also increases the chances for new graduates to secure a job.

What does the test involve? 

The CAE exam tests all four language skills : reading comprehension, written expression, oral comprehension and oral expression.

  • Reading: this part of the Cambridge Advanced test assesses the candidate’s vocabulary and grammar. There are 56 multiple choice questions to be answered after reading texts of around 3,500 words. Texts are taken from newspapers, advertisements, books, etc.
  • Writing: the second part of the CAE exam assesses the candidate’s ability to write in English. This consists of writing two texts of approximately 250 words each. 
  • Listening: the oral part of the CAE consists of answering 30 questions. Each candidate listens to a recording of a radio or television program featuring native English speakers. These recordings are played twice.
  • Speaking: the final part of the Cambridge English Advanced test is assessed in groups. The candidate must first talk to an examiner and then converse with another candidate. A third person (who does not participate in the conversations) is there to assess the candidate.

How long does the test take? 

The examination lasts about four hours in total. Reading comprehension and writing take 90 minutes each, oral comprehension 40 minutes and speaking 15 minutes.

What levels can the CAE test assess? 

This English test is for anyone who already has an advanced level of English (level C1). Beginners are advised to take the KET or PET test.

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What grading system does the CAE test use?

The Cambridge English Advanced test scores range from 160 to 210 points. If the score is lower, the candidate receives the Cambridge English First (FCE) or the Cambridge English  Preliminary (PET) test. In order to obtain the CAE qualification, candidates must score 180 points or more. Students who score more than 200 points will be awarded the Cambridge English Proficiency qualification (CPE), equivalent to a C2 level.

The CAE scoring system is based on the analysis of the four skills tested (listening, writing, reading and speaking). The CAE provides evidence that the holder of the qualification is capable of:

  • expressing themselves easily in a natural, spontaneous manner,
  • interpreting and understanding complex written material,
  • using English in professional, academic and social settings,
  • writing texts with correct grammar and spelling.

How much does the test cost? Where can I take it? 

To take the test, you must register at one of the 2,700 examination centers that offer this type of language certification. There are two types of center: open and internal. Open centers are available to anyone wishing to take this English language certification without prior preparation at an accredited establishment. Internal centers organize the test for their students.

The price of the Cambridge English Advanced qualification is approximately 223 euros. It varies depending on the chosen test center. Establishments are free to set their own prices and registration fees. 

The CAE at a glance

PublisherCambridge Assessment EnglishGymglish
Name of certificate / diplomaCambridge English AdvancedGymglish learning report, professional English
Validity periodOngoingDoes not expire
Skills testedReading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression, oral expressionReading, listening, writing (business and professional English)
Target level(s)C1All levels, except beginners (A2 to C2)
PriceApproximately € 223From € 14 /month
Duration4 hoursTraining + learning report : 6 months
Face-to-face / RemoteAt an examination centreRemote / online

The CAE is not the only option for English certification. At the end of our English language training, we also provide a personzalized learning report.

See our section on English language tests and diplomas

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