CAE Exam – What you need to know

by / Thursday, 16 April 2015

What is CAE?

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is a globally recognised certificate of language skills. The exam is intended for use in academic and professional life.

The exam is extremely popular with around 60,000 candidates each year in more than 60 countries opting to take it. It is recommended for learners who have attained an advanced level of English and are able to use it confidently in public, educational and professional situations.

What does the CAE test involve? 

The CAE exam consists of 4 papers in total. These are Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

CAE Reading and Use of English 

cae reading

This exam will last 1 hour and 30 minutes, there are 8 parts and 56 questions in total within this section. The Reading and Use of English paper makes up 40% of the entire test and so it is very important to prepare for this section fully. In order to be successful, you will need to comfortable reading publications such as books, journals and magazines.Correct spelling is required so in preparation we advise to get into the habit of always checking the spelling of words.

Top Tip

Read each question several times to ensure you understand what you are being asked to do.

CAE Writing 

CAE Writing

The Writing exam consists of 2 parts, lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes and makes up 20% of your overall mark. Part 1 will require you to write an article, report or letter. This paper tests your grammar, vocabulary and spelling as well as the skill to arrange your writing in a logical manner that answers each of the questions asked. You will also be assessed on the register and effect on the reader.  Part 1 will provide you some material to read (roughly 150 words) and you will have to produce writing based upon this.

Part 2 is a situational-based writing task. You choose one of four questions that require you to read some material and then write something based on this.  This often involves you describing something and can take the form of a letter, a review or report etc.

Top Tip

Pay attention to the word count as you will be penalised if you are too far under or over this.

CAE Listening

The Listening section of the CAE exam lasts 40 minutes and again makes up 20% of the overall mark. There are 4 parts which consist of a total of 30 questions. This section will test your ability to understand the meaning of a range of spoken material. The material could be anything from a radio broadcast to a speech.Each piece of audio will be played twice and you will have time to read the questions before the audio so make sure you take advantage of this.

Top Tip

Prepare by listening to as much English as you can.  Podcasts in particular can be great preparation for this section.


CAE Speaking

The final 20% of the exam is the speaking section. This section is made up of 4 parts however lasts only 15 minutes and is normally done with another partner or in a group of 3. The Speaking section will test your overall ability to communicate successfully in a face-to-face situation.You will be asked questions individually from the examiner and will then be required to interact with your partner in a conversation. Try to remain confident and relaxed, interact with your partner as much as you can to impress the examiner.

Top Tip

If you make a mistake correct it and move on quickly. Long pauses can result in dropped marks, however if you correct yourself or request the other applicant or examiner to explain something further you can receive marks for good communication skills.

When will i get my results for the CAE certificate? 

After sitting the exam you can expect your results in around two weeks.  It’s important to feel fully prepared in when going into the exam, this will make you more confident and relaxed and will give you more chance of passing.

Classes Available

Live Language currently offer a wide range of Cambridge Exam preparation courses which will develop all the skills you require in order to pass the CAE. For more information please call 0141 221 0793. More details on the CAE course can be found here.

Extra Reading 

How to Improve Your Spoken English
IELTS Writing Skills: What is the examiner looking for?