Cambridge Advanced Exam

The Cambridge Advanced exam is a highly sought after qualification that serves to prepare learners of English as a second language for the world of work and study in English speaking countries. The C1 level certificate is accepted by more than 8,000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments internationally as proof of a high level of English grammar and vocabulary structures. Below you will find information about the Cambridge advanced exam requirements and PDF exam samples to help you prepare for the big day, additionally we have included a video of a speaking exam in progress. 

Certificate in Advanced English Preparation

General information about the Cambridge Advanced Exam

The Cambridge Advanced exam, which was previously called Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE), is a Cambridge English Qualification. It is the in-depth, high-level qualification that demonstrates language skills needed for employment and university studies. Preparing for the Cambridge Advanced exam helps ESL students master the skills required to study, work and live in English-speaking countries.

The Common European Framework of reference for Languages (CEFRL) level for the Cambridge Advanced exam is C1. A pass mark at this level is given a grade: A, B or C, however, achieving a grade A means that your English is considered to be at level C2 on the CEFR. If you do not get enough marks for a grade C, you may get a certificate stating that your English level is at B2. There are four papers in the Cambridge Advanced exam: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Reading and Use of English in the Cambridge Advanced Exam

Advanced Certificate Preparation Lessons

There are 8 parts to this paper which are always in the same order. The first 4 parts of the Cambridge advanced exam reading and use of English paper often contain texts with accompanying vocabulary and grammar tasks. The remaining 4 parts test your reading and comprehension skills. You have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete all 8 parts.

1. Multiple choice cloze: Consisting of a text with 8 gaps. You must choose from 4 options and fill the gap correctly. This task tests your vocabulary, so you should study and practice idioms, collocations and fixed phrases.

2. Open cloze: Again, you have a text that has 8 gaps, this time however, you must think of the appropriate word because there are no options to choose from. The words required are usually small words like auxiliary verbs, pronouns or connectors.

3. Word formation: Once again you get a gapped text, but in this test, the end of the line with the gap, you will see a word in bold. This word contains the stem of a word that fits in the space. You must modify the stem word to create an adjective or noun etc. There are always 8 gaps in this task.

4. Key word transformation: There are six questions consisting of a full sentence and a second incomplete sentence. You have to complete the second sentence so that it means exactly the same as the first sentence. There is a word provided for the second sentence and you must use this word without changing it. This task tests your vocabulary and grammar knowledge; for example you might be asked to use synonyms which require different structures (such as prepositions etc).

5. Multiple choice: A reading text followed by 6 multiple choice questions.

6. Cross text multiple matching: Four short texts followed by multiple matching questions. You must read across texts to match a prompt to elements in the text.

7. Gapped text: A text with 6 missing paragraphs, you must use the extracts provided to complete the text.

8. Multiple matching: A text (or several short texts) with 10 multiple matching questions.

Writing in the Cambridge Advanced Exam

how to prepare for the Cambridge Advanced Exam

You must complete part one (question 1) in addition to one of the part two tasks. In part two there are three tasks to choose from(questions 2 to 4). The marks for part 1 and part 2 are the same. In all tasks, you are told what kind of text you must write, who you are writing to, and why you are writing. You have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete both parts of the writing section in the Cambridge Advanced exam.

Part one: An essay – 220 -260 words. You are given information about two points to write an essay about. You must decide which of the two points is more significant and explain why. 

Part two: Optional writing- 220 -260 words. You can choose from three tasks which specify the type of task you have to write, your purpose for writing, and the person or people you have to write to. In the Cambridge Advanced exam you will be asked to write either a report, a review, a letter/email or a proposal.

Cambridge Advanced Exam Listening Paper

This listening paper of the Cambridge advanced exam lasts approximately 40 minutes. Usually you will both hear and see the instructions. Each recording is played twice, when the recording announces pauses, you can use this time to read the questions. There is one point for each question in this paper and at the end of the test you will have five minutes to copy your answers onto the answer sheet. In the listening exercises you may hear announcements, radio broadcasts, speeches, talks, lectures or anecdotes, if one person is speaking; however if there are two speakers you will be played a radio interview, discussion or conversation.

There are four parts:

Multiple choice – 6 questions – you hear 3 short extracts and have to answer multiple-choice questions on each. Each question has 3 options.
Sentence completion – 8 questions- you hear a recording and have to write a word or short phrase to complete sentences.
Multiple choice – 6 questions – you hear a recording and have to answer multiple choice questions, each with four options.
Multiple matching – 10 questions – you hear 5 extracts. There are two matching tasks focusing on the gist and the main points of what is said, the attitude of the speakers and the context in which they are speaking.

The Speaking Section of the Cambridge Advanced Exam 

Usually the candidates take speaking test in pairs, although you may have to form a group of three. There will be two examiners, although only one takes part in the conversation. This examiner indicates who you should talk to during the test and provides the visual materials as necessary, while the other examiner takes notes. There are four parts to the speaking test which lasts in total about 15 minutes.

1. Three way conversation between two candidates and one of the examiners – the examiner asks you both some questions about yourself and your interests and experiences

2. Individual ‘long turn’ with brief response from your partner – You receive some visual and written prompts, the examiner will ask you to talk about these for about a minutes. You will have to give a short response after your partner has finished their ‘long turn’

3. Collaborative task – You must respond to some spoken instructions and written stimuli for a discussion or decision-making task by discussing these prompts with your partner.

4. Three-way interaction between students and one of the examiners – The examiner asks you and your partner questions relating to topics arising from parts 3.

This youtube video is an example of two candidates taking the speaking part of the Cambridge Advanced exam.

Download Cambridge Advanced Exam PDF sample papers

Here at Break Into English we’ve made available PDF and listening files of official Cambridge advanced exam papers for you to download to your PC or mobile device.

We can help you prepare for the Cambridge Advanced Exam

Specialist trainers at Break into English will guide you to success in the Cambridge Advanced exam. With our proven method and unique teaching style, you can rest assured that you will feel more than prepared on the big day, having thoroughly covered each of the 4 sections of the exam. Try a free lesson to see how our Skype Cambridge Advanced exam preparation course can work for you. Don’t forget to have a look at our blog for more information on how to prepare for the Cambridge Advanced Exam.