English certification: 6 things to know about the Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE)

Cambridge Assessment English is a department of the University of Cambridge that specializes in the assessment and certification of English language levels.

This department offers a wide range of English language certifications, including the Cambridge English Proficiency test, also known as C2 Proficiency. The CPE is the highest-level English language examination of all the Cambridge certifications. Unlike some language qualifications, Cambridge English certificates do not have a limited period of validity. 

What is the purpose of the test? 

This certificate provides proof of students’ English language skills. It certifies that they have attained an advanced level of English, and obtaining it is equivalent to the C2 language level, in which students are able to express themselves like a bilingual person). In other words, students who obtain the Certificate of Proficiency in English are able to work or study in English in any sector. Their level is more or less equivalent to that of a native English speaker: they can speak without making mistakes and use complex sentence structures.

Obtaining the CPE opens doors to major universities and international companies.

What does the test involve? 

Like all Cambridge English language tests, the CPE assesses the four major language skills: reading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression and oral expression.

  • Reading: the first part of the CPE is designed to assess the candidate’s reading comprehension. The evaluation of their language level is based on the grammar and vocabulary used. After reading excerpts from books, newspapers, magazines or press articles, candidates must answer 53 multiple-choice questions (MCQ).
  • Written expression: this part of the CPE test helps determine a candidate’s level of English in terms of their writing ability. This stage is divided into two parts: the first part consists of reading two texts, summarizing the main arguments, and giving one’s own opinion on the subject. In the second part, candidates must choose five texts to write, one of which can be based on an English literary work, known before the test.
  • Oral comprehension: candidates listen twice to audio clips recorded by native speakers, which may be sourced from radio or television.
  • Oral expression: this stage consists of several parts. In the first part, the candidate converses with the examiner. The other two parts take place in pairs, with the candidates taking turns and talking about a set subject.

How long does the test take?

The total duration of the Cambridge English Proficiency test is approximately 4 hours. The first two parts (reading and writing) last 90 minutes each. The third part (listening) lasts 40 minutes, and the final section (speaking) 15 minutes.

What levels can the CPE test assess? 

The CPE is one of the most difficult English certificates to obtain, and is one of the most advanced English language qualifications. On the CEFR scale, the Cambridge English Proficienc corresponds to a C2 level.

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What grading system does the CPE test use? 

All Cambridge English exams use the same scoring system based on the Cambridge English Scale.

Scores for the CPE range between 180 and 230 points. To obtain the CPE certificate, candidates must achieve a score of 200 points or more. Note: all the parts of this language test have the same coefficient.

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

The CPE test can be taken at several examination centers (easily found online). As the centers are independent, prices vary from one center to another. The average cost of the Cambridge English Proficiency in English test is 250 euros.

The CPE at a glance

PublisherCambridge Assessment EnglishGymglish
Name of certificate / diplomaCambridge English ProficiencyGymglish learning report, professional English
Validity periodOngoingDoes not expire
Skills testedReading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression, oral expressionReading, listening, writting (business and professional English)
Target level(s)C2All levels, except beginners (A2 to C2)
PriceAbout € 250From € 14 /month
Duration4 hoursTraining + learning report : 6 months
Face-to-face / RemoteAt an examination centreRemote / online

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

See our section on Enlish language tests and diplomas

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