CPE is Cambridge ESOL's most advanced exam. It is aimed at people who use English for professional or study purposes.
Is CPE for you?
- use English to advise on, or talk about complex or sensitive issues?
- understand the finer points of documents, correspondence and reports?
If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then CPE is the right exam for you.
What will CPE do for you?
Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking CPE:
- a CPE certificate is valid for life, you never need to take the exam again
- CPE is truly international, recognised around the world for business and study purposes
- hundreds of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise CPE as proof of proficiency in English
- CPE's gives you the confidence to use English in real situations.
What will taking CPE help you do?
CPE is at Level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) - an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. 'Can Do' statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real skills with language.
For example, at C2 level, typical users can be expected to:
- understand with ease virtually everything they hear and read
- make accurate and complete notes during a presentation
- understand colloquial asides
- talk about complex and sensitive issues without awkwardness
- express themselves precisely and fluently.
Your preparation for CPE will give you these kinds of practical language skills.
What does CPE involve?
CPE has four papers:
Reading and Use of English 1 hour 30 minutes
7 parts/53 questions
Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and manuals.
Writing 1 hour 30 minutes
Requires you to be able to write a variety of text types, such as essays, proposals, reports and reviews.
Listening: 40 minutes (approx)
4 parts/30 questions
Requires you to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as lectures, speeches and interviews.
Speaking: 16 minutes
Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations.
As with all of Cambridge ESOL's certificates, there is a lot of support to help you prepare for your exam.
Most candidates prefer to take the preparation courses run by language schools and universities.
You can access a variety of support materials from the Resources area of the Cambridge website. This includes a short booklet, Information for Candidates, and sample exam papers, which includes sound files for the Listening test materials.
Many publishers have produced a wide choice of books and other aids to help you prepare for taking CPE. Ask your local bookshop for details.
To help you prepare for CPE, we provide teachers with their own website so they can download sample exam papers, handbooks, and other teaching support material.
A world of opportunities - worldwide recognition
- CPE is a truly international exam, recognised by hundreds of employers as proof of proficiency in English and also by universities and colleges as proof of ability to study in English to undergraduate level.
- Companies such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Nestlé, Sony, Procter & Gamble and Nokia recognise the value of CPE in their overseas offices.
Find more details on the organisations and universities that recognise CPE.
Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the test centres.
Each component of the exam carries 20% of the total marks.
There are three Pass grades, A, B and C - candidates reaching these grades are awarded a certificate. Candidates achieving grades D or E do not receive a certificate.