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What is the C1 Advanced?

The Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (C1 Advanced) is an English test that assesses a person’s ability to understand and communicate in English, in a professional or academic environment. The C1 Advanced (formerly known as CAE) is recognized by more than 20,000 universities around the world but also by many internationally renowned employers and government organizations. When it is mentioned on a CV, it makes it possible to boost an application and obtain a place in a high school, university or international company, more easily. The C1 Advanced gives a score on the CEFR scale and certifies a C1 level in English (which corresponds to an experienced level). C1 Advanced is administered by the University of Cambridge and assesses the candidate's skills, both oral and written, through 4 consecutive and separate sections. It takes around 4 hours to complete the exam.

Key information

C1 Advanced

Total duration: 4h

Evaluate your listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills

Certification valid for life

Scored out of 210 points

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C1 Advanced: don't forget!

The C1 Advanced test has 4 sections which assess both written and spoken comprehension and expression. Once comes across the “Reading and Use of English”, “Writing”, “Listening” and “Speaking” sequestionally. In order to help you better understand, here are the details on the content and duration of each of these sections:

C1 Advanced: Reading and Use of English

The first one which is called Reading and Use of English, lasts about 90 minutes and is divided into 8 different exercises. There are texts with gaps which need to be completed (with and without suggested answers), multiple choice questions, open questions, texts with missing paragraphs etc. All the questions are based on text extracts, which are more or less long, in order to assess the written understanding of the language, mainly by testing the grammatical and lexical skills of the candidate..

C1 Advanced: Listening

The Listening part of the C1 Advanced lasts 40 minutes and is made up of 30 questions, divided into 4 parts. It assesses the candidate's oral comprehension. The first part includes 3 extracts from conversations with a multiple choice question. The second part is in the form of fill in the gap sentences, which need to be completed, after listening to a monologue which lasts 2 to 3 minutes. In the third section, the candidate listens to a conversation which lasts 3 to 4 minutes and must then complete a multiple choice. The last section is another kind of multiple choice questionnaire.

Section 3 C1 Advanced: Writing

The C1 Advanced section dedicated to written expression is called Writing and lasts 90 minutes. It is divided into 2 parts: a first essay of 150 words on a subject, and a second written test of 220 to 260 words on a different theme. You will have to write different types of professional documents such as e-mails or extracts from reports.

Part 4 C1 Advanced: Speaking

The Speaking section of the C1 Advanced is devoted to oral expression. It lasts 15 minutes and is in the form of an interview with two examiners and in collaboration with another candidate. You may need to describe photos, talk about your interests, give your opinion on a given subject, by talking with the other candidate etc. The main aim here is to show how fluent you are while speaking, not to mention the richness of your vocabulary and your ability to express yourself in a relevant manner.

At the end of the exam, you get a score in the form of a letter: A, B, C, D or E. This overall score corresponds to the average of the scores for the 5 parts of the exam, which are all worth the same coefficient (Reading, Use of English, Writing, Listening, Speaking). This way, if you are for example better at writing than oral expression, the two sections will compensate one another.

The results are sent to the candidate's home but are also available online within 2 to 3 weeks after passing the test, if it was done on a computer, and within 4 to 6 weeks if the C1 Advanced was passed through the paper format.

To pass the C1 Advanced, you must obtain a grade A, B or C. Obtaining a D or an E is equivalent to failing the exam. The scores correspond to the CEFR levels and are presented as follows:

  • Between 200 and 210 points: A - equivalent to level C2
  • Between 193 and 199 points: B - equivalent to level C1
  • Between 180 and 192 points: C - equivalent to level C1
  • Between 160 and 179 points: no letter - equivalent to level B2

The C1 Advanced is used to certify a C1 level in English but can also attest a C2 level by obtaining grade A on the exam, or a B2 level if the candidate obtains less than 180 points

The results you will receive in the form of “Statements of results” shall indicate:

  • your 5 scores in detail
  • your final score
  • your corresponding CECRL level

More than just a simple test which would assess your language skills at a time T, as is the case of Bright English, the C1 Advanced diploma is valid for life. However, some employers, schools and universities require C1 Advanced certification which is less than 2 years old. Therefore, it is advisable to take your test on time, and not too early. This in order to be able to certify your most recent level of English.

Like many language tests, C1 Advanced is a standardized exam, which requires an adaptation phase. It includes very specific instructions, exercises that can be unsettling and very varied subjects. To pass the C1 Advanced test with flying colors, you need training. Even if you are naturally good at English and think you have the required level, you will need to get familiar with the structure and the specific instructions of the exam, in order to be as efficient as possible on the day of your test. The more you become familiar with the test’s structure, the instructions, the type of questions and the exercises which are presented, the more you are likely to get a high score. This way, you know what to expect and save a lot of time on the day of the test. However, if you were to discover everything on the day of the exam, you will probably take several minutes to understand the instructions and grasp what is expected out of you, which will make you waste precious time since the exam is of course, timed. Having a good level of English is therefore not enough to pass C1 Advanced without an important preparation phase. A proper preparation can also help you validate a CEFR level higher than the one you would have validated, without any training

Now you may be wondering how to effectively prepare for this exam? To prepare for the C1 Advanced (or CAE) test, you have several resources at your disposal:

  • “Business english” Group or Individual lessons

These are face to face lessons, organized by trainers in some linguistic examination centers. These courses help improve the general linguistic capacities and mainly the student’s oral expression. For those who have not yet acquired the C1 level, this is a good way to progress faster. Individual lessons will be more favorable for personalized training, mainly for the C1 Advanced “Speaking” (with a trainer who has knowledge on the specifics of the test). Group lessons will help students improve their general English and especially their oral expression in a group. However, taking advantage of these courses requires a certain financial investment (individual lessons being more expensive than group lessons) but also more availability.

If you prefer to improve your professional English online, discover Business English through GlobalExam, our 100% online platform, in order to progress in real professional situations.

  • C1 Advanced Revision books :

Training books are also a good way to prepare, especially if you plan to take the C1 Advanced in the paper form. A good C1 Advanced training book should include standard exercises for all test sections (including Speaking and Writing), several comprehensive mock exams with the same structure and format as the C1 Advanced, corrections and explanations for each exercise, audio support to practice the “Listening” section. The training books published by the Cambridge University Press are the most comprehensive and reliable ones.

  • Online training :

Many websites offer the possibility of preparing for the C1 Advanced, through online exercises. In our opinion, the most relevant training sites are those of Cambridge English (the official site for exams, administered by Cambridge) and the British Council. The first one offers C1 Advanced-specific training materials, with various guides and explanations, mock topics and typical exercise questions. The second one is generally more focused on business English but offers many free resources to work on grammar, vocabulary, along with practical advice, exercises and answers.

To train online for the C1 Advanced and therefore have the advantage of being able to review everywhere and at any given time (which is not possible with books that are often heavy to carry, or with face-to-face lessons), you can also opt for online training platforms. Our GlobalExam platform, for example, provides you with very comprehensive resources and a training program.

  • The medias in English

Another way to prepare for the C1 Advanced in a way which is a little more fun, is to use your free time to improve your English. Of course, such training methods do not replace the previous ones but can be a good addition to the rest. It allows you to progress further without having the impression of working. Between two intense revision phases, you can get into the habit of reading books and newspapers in English, watching TV in English or listening to the radio in English. Yes, to be on top on D-Day, it is good to use all revision media at your disposal!

Do you want to benefit from a complete revision program for the C1 Advanced, accessible at any given time and from anywhere? Then our GlobalExam platform is made for you. GlobalExam is the first e-learning platform which is entirely dedicated to preparing for language exams such as TOEIC, BRIGHT Language, TOEFL, IELTS, DELF, C1 Advanced (formerly CAE) and many more. It provides you with several revision tools, which are specific to each exam and divided into different modes:

  • The Training mode: it includes standard exercises classified by section (oral expression, written expression, oral comprehension and written comprehension). For each exercise, a timer allows you to monitor your response time and the corrections are accessible with precise explanations
  • The Exam mode: this mode allows you to train in real exam conditions, with mock exams which are timed.

The platform also includes a “Statistics and corrections” section, allowing subscribers to follow their progress on a daily basis and therefore be able to identify their possible lacks, to progress faster.

GlobalExam also provides you with several revision sheets leaning on vocabulary and grammar to strengthen your skills.

Last but not least, you can also benefit from a personalized revision program over a given period, by entering your beginning level and the expected date for taking the C1 Advanced.

With GlobalExam, you have all the tools you need to prepare for the C1 Advanced in an effective way, through just a few clicks.