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Need to pass your C1 Advanced test for your studies or to get a new job position?

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What you need to know about the C1 Advanced test

The Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE) is an English language qualification, demonstrating a person’s ability to communicate in English at a standard that would be expected of staff in an English speaking firm. The C1 Advanced is also applicable for undergraduate study. The C1 Advanced is a Common European Framework of Reference for Language, CEFR, C1 level exam, it contains materials and activities that require advanced-level skills in English.

The 4 sections of the C1 Advanced are Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. The length and general content of each section is as follows:
  • Reading and Use of English: 90 minutes with eight parts: Multiple-choice cloze, Open cloze, Word formation, Key word transformations, Text with multiple-choice questions, Cross-text multiple matching, Text with paragraphs missing, and Multiple matching.
  • Listening: 40 minutes with 30 questions. There are four parts. The first part contains three short extracts from conversations with multiple-choice questions. The second part contains a sentence completion exercise. The third part contains a conversation with multiple-choice questions, and the fourth part is multiple matching.
  • Writing: 90 minutes with two tasks: Situationally based writing task where you choose one of four questions. You read some material that clarifies the situation and then write one of the following: a letter/email, a proposal, a report or a review (220–260 words). Writing of an essay based on some material to read, up to 150 words, which may include material that has been taken from advertisements, emails, short articles, etc. You write an essay between 220–260 words related to this information.
  • Speaking: 15 minute interview with another candidate. The two of you will meet two examiners. One of the examiners will talk to you while the second examiner does not speak. There are short questions and answers between you and the examiner. Then there are between two and five photographs, and the examiner asks you to talk about them. The other candidate has to comment on what you have said for about 30 seconds. Then there is collaborative task where you converse with the other candidate. The examiner gives you some pictures and a task to do. Then you talk with the other candidate and make a decision. Finally, there is a short discussion. The Speaking section may be administered on a different day from the other sections.

The scoring system is as follows: A, B, C (pass), D, E or U (fail). The C1 Advanced uses the following scores to report results from the exam:

Score Grade CEFR
200-210 Grade A C2
193-199 Grade B C1
180-192 Grade C C1
160-179 B2


The exam is meant for assessment at Level C1 of the CEFR. However, the exam provides a reliable assessment at the level above C1 that is the C2 level, and the level below that is B2. If you do not pass, but still do reasonably well on the CAE, then you are issued with a B2 certificate. The C1 Advanced test can be taken most months in either paper-based or computer-based format. However, not all test centers will administer both types of test. Always check with your local, official test center for details regarding dates, formats and price. The price is around 150-175 euros or the equivalent in your local currency.

Basic advice is practice, practice and practice. The more familiar that you become with the types of questions and grammatical aspects, the better your score will be.

Some tips for preparing for the CAE:
  • Read as much as possible. Use the BBC World News website as the C1 Advanced is a British test, so you need to become familiar with British English.
  • Read widely. The texts used in the reading can be: newspapers, magazines, journals, non-literary books, leaflets, brochures, etc.
  • Use a grammar book to help you understand sentence structure websites are good, too; however, a grammar textbook has been edited and is typically more comprehensive.
  • Take a CAE test preparation course either online or at a local school; it is very helpful.
  • For speaking, you could hire a tutor. Try to find another person taking the C1 Advanced, so you can mimic the format of the speaking section.
  • Manage your time and make a study plan; no plan equals poor results.

  • Read the instructions on questions carefully before you start each part.
  • Read the surrounding context before giving an answer.
  • Read all the text before you answer any questions.
  • Don’t panic if you miss a question during the listening section. Keep listening.