The Cambridge CAE (Cambridge English: Advanced) is a language exam to test the English language skills of non-native speakers. It is one of the many different English examinations offered by Cambridge English Language Assessment, which is part of the renowned University of Cambridge.
Within the Cambridge English system, the CAE is the average of three exams in the Cambridge English system to demonstrate academic knowledge of English. It corresponds to C1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Most universities in England, but also some in other English-speaking countries, accept the Cambridge CAE as proof of language proficiency for admission.
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Test contents and test structure of the Cambridge CAE
The CAE exam covers five areas of competence:
- Use of English
The CAE exam takes about 4 hours and 40 minutes.
The reading test takes 75 minutes. Here you can answer multiple-choice questions, complete cloze texts and assign information to different texts. The texts come from the fields of literature and print media.
The writing test takes 90 minutes. Here we have to write two different texts. Possible text types include letters, reports, reviews or articles.
Use of English
The Use of English section is 60 minutes long and examines grammar and vocabulary. Different types of questions have to be answered, for example multiple choice and different variations of cloze texts.
The Listening test takes about 40 minutes of the CAE exam. The examinee listens to different voice recordings; these can be interviews, radio broadcasts, lectures or conversations in everyday situations. He or she then has to work on different types of questions, such as multiple choice and completing sentences.
The final part of the Speaking test takes only 15 minutes. The candidates complete it together with another participant. First, they answer general questions about their own interests, their studies and their career. Then they briefly report on two to five photos and then have a conversation with the other test participant.
The first four examination units are completed in one day. The oral part (speaking) can also take place a few days before or after the written part, depending on the test centre.
Assessment scale of the Cambridge CAE
Each of the five examination areas receives a score on a scale from 0 (low) to 20 (high). The total score is the sum of the five individual scores.
The scores are divided into different sections. The Cambridge CAE is considered passed in the sections:
- Grade A (80 to 100 points)
- Grade B (75 to 79 points)
- Grade C (60 to 74 points)
Grade A already corresponds to language level C2, i. e. the next higher level above C1, and if an examinee achieves this assessment, this is also noted on the certificate. Grades B and C correspond to C1.
Whoever achieves a score between 45 and 59 may not have passed the CAE, but at least will receive a certificate that the level of language competence attained corresponds to B2.
Under 45 points, the CAE is considered not passed at all. It is possible to repeat the CAE to improve the achieved rating. There is no limitation of the experiments.
Unlike, for example, TOEFL or IELTS, CAE is generally valid for life. Nevertheless, it may of course happen that the university of choice only accepts test results that are not older than two years, analogous to the validity periods of other tests.
Preparation for the Cambridge CAE
Cambridge English Language Assessment offers a variety of learning aids to prepare for CAE. In addition to tips on the test procedure, there are also some practice tests available free of charge on the official CAE website. In addition, there are also more detailed learning materials with costs.
Test centres and examination dates for the CAE
There are numerous test centres all over the world where the CAE exam can be taken at different times of the year. There are several places to choose from in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. An overview of all test centres and dates can be found on the official CAE website of Cambridge English Language Assessment.
The CAE is basically available as a computer and paper version. However, not every exam date and version is available in every test center. Further information can be obtained from the respective test centre. Registration is also made via the test centre where the interested parties want to take the CAE. The modalities can vary.
It is advisable to register early, as individual examination dates or centres may be fully booked at an early stage. When planning your plans, you should take into account the deadlines of the universities. If you take the test in the computer-based version, you will be able to see the results after about two weeks. With the paper-based version, the evaluation takes around four weeks to complete.
Costs and payment options for CAE
The cost and payment options for the CAE exam depend on the test centre. The fees are currently between EUR 150 and EUR 200 and can be found at the respective test centre.