What is the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and How It Can Prepare Me for Studying Abroad?

by Roxana Prunache

Cambridge English advanced is a popular language certificate that helps you prove your English skills and abilities. Compared to other English tests, Cambridge advanced is not accepted just for study purposes when applying to a foreign university; multinational companies and organisations usually select job candidates who can prove their advanced English level with a Cambridge certificate.

If you’re preparing to get admitted to an international university, it’s best that you inform yourself about the exact English language requirements. In many cases, Cambridge along with other English tests are equally accepted. You just have to decide which one you should take considering the format and structure.

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A unique feature of Cambridge English advanced is that it is less focused on academic skills and more inclined towards developing more general and broad English knowledge you can apply in daily life, including in a business environment.

Unlike other English tests, the Cambridge certificate has no expiry date. However, universities may not consider it’s valid if it was taken in over two years ago at the moment of the application.

Exam format for Cambridge English Advanced

You can choose to take the Cambridge exam paper based or computer based, but for any option, the exam will take place in a venue arranged by the testing centre you registered with.

Paper-based exams are usually organised in hotel conference rooms, whereas computer based exams normally take place in language schools or colleges authorised by the testing centre.

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Who accepts Cambridge English?

Predominantly, universities from the following countries accept Cambridge English advanced for successful application of English-taught degrees:

  1. Apply for an English Master’s degree in the UK
  2. Apply for an English Master’s degree in Canada
  3. Apply for an English Master’s degree in Ireland
  4. Apply for an English Master’s degree in Australia

Find out more about Cambridge exam for study purposes.

The five parts of the Cambridge Advanced test

The Cambridge exam consists of five papers:

1. Reading (1 hour and 15 minutes)

You will have to read four texts from several domains. After that, you will have to answer a few questions that will test your comprehension abilities.

Reading texts are mostly newspapers and magazines articles, promotional and informational materials.

Questions are mostly filling the blanks with the right word to complete sentences correctly and multiple choice questions.

CAE English language test.jpg

2. Writing (90 minutes)

The first part of the writing test implies writing the summary of a text from a given domain.

The second part gives you the choice to write a letter, a report, a proposal or an information sheet.

The most important criteria of this section are the accuracy of the language, as well as respecting the register for the chosen theme.

3. Use of English (1 hour)

You will have to prove your grammar skills, by answering the 50 questions that contain some references to English idioms, collocations and phrasal verbs.

4. Listening (40 minutes)

This part evaluates your listening skills and your ability to memorize the right answers to the questions indicated on the exam paper. This part has two given audio extracts, one you can listen to one time and the other one twice, enables you to test your short-time memory and capacity of reasoning.

Audio extracts include monologues such as radio broadcasts, speeches, or anecdotes; each monologue lasts around 3 minutes.

You will have to complete the sentences on the question paper with the missing information which you hear on the recording.

5. Speaking (1 hour)

The last section implies answering to some questions, orally, together with an unknown partner sitting next to you. Your emotions and the improvising skills will be evaluated, as the answers of your colleague will surely influence yours.

The examiner will ask questions about your interests, studies, career plans and the discussion is usually friendly and less formal. You will have to simply give information about yourself and express your opinions on a certain topic.

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Final tips for a successful exam score
  1. Check your spelling in all parts of the test.
  2. Transfer your answers to your answer sheet after you finish each part
  3. Understand the context of the text before giving an answer.
  4. Carefully read the instructions and the titles of texts before you answer.
  5. Try to paraphrase of ideas rather than using your own words when answering the questions.
Prepare for the Cambridge exam

Preparing for an English language exam requires months of study and practice. You can find valuable online resources to practice and several books such as Advanced Gold Course book, written by Richard Acklam and many others.

English language schools worldwide prepare learners for this special exam as well so you should also check this option.

Remember, an international certificate confirming your foreign language skills is very useful when applying for a program which implies studying courses taught in English at university or higher education level, employment in professional international environments.

After finally receiving the Certificate in Advanced English, you will be so proud of your achievement!

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