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A Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) qualification shows the world that you have mastered English to an exceptional level. It proves you can communicate with the fluency and sophistication of a highly competent English speaker.

Preparing for and passing the exam means you have the level of English that’s needed to study or work in a very senior professional or academic environment, for example on a postgraduate or PhD programme.

Key facts
CEFR level: C2 What's this?
Scale score: 200–230 What’s this?
Test format: Computer or paper-based
No. of papers: 4
Exam length: About 4 hours

A Cambridge English: Proficiency qualification shows that you can:
- study demanding subjects at the highest level, including postgraduate and PhD programmes
- negotiate and persuade effectively at senior management level in international business settings
- understand the main ideas of complex pieces of writing
- talk about complex or sensitive issues, and deal confidently with difficult questions.

Exam format

Cambridge English: Proficiency is made up of four papers developed to test your English skills. You can see exactly what is in each paper below.

Paper Content Purpose
Reading and Use of English (1 hour 30 minutes) 
See sample paper 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) See sample paper 2 parts Requires you to be able to write a variety of text types, such as essays, reports and reviews.

Listening (about 40 minutes) See sample paper 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 per pair of candidates) See sample paper 3 parts Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations.

What’s in the Reading and Use of English paper?

The Cambridge English: Proficiency Reading and Use of English paper has different types of text and questions. In one part, you may have to read one long text or three or more shorter, related texts.

Summary

Time allowed: 1 hour 30 minutes
Number of parts: 7
Number of questions: 53 
Length of texts: About 3,000 words to read in total
Texts may be from: Books (fiction and non-fiction), non-specialist articles from newspapers, magazines and the internet.
Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 1? A single text with eight gaps. Candidates must choose one word or phrase from a set of four to fill each gap. 
What do I have to practise? Idioms, collocations, fixed phrases, complementation, phrasal verbs, semantic precision.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? 1 mark for each correct answer.
Part 2 (Open cloze)

What's in Part 2? A modified cloze test consisting of a text with eight gaps. Candidates think of the word which best fits each gap.
What do I have to practise? Awareness and control of grammar with some focus on vocabulary.
How many questions are there? 8
How many marks are there? 1 mark for each correct answer.
Part 3 (Word formation)

What's in Part 3? A text containing eight gaps. Each gap corresponds to a word. The stems of the missing words are given beside the text and must be changed to form the missing word. 
What do I have to practise? Vocabulary, in particular the use of affixation, internal changes and compounding in word formation.
How many questions are there? 8 
How many marks are there? 1 mark for each correct answer.
Part 4 (Key word transformations)

What's in Part 4? Six discrete items with a lead-in sentence and a gapped response to complete in 3–8 words including a given ‘key’ word.
What do I have to practise? Grammar, vocabulary and collocation.
How many questions are there? 6 
How many marks are there? Up to 2 marks for each correct answer.
Part 5 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 5? A long text followed by some multiple-choice questions, each with four options (A, B, C or D). 
What do I have to practise? Identifying detail, opinion, attitude, tone, purpose, main idea, implication and how a text is organised.
How many questions are there? 6 
How many marks are there? 2 marks for each correct answer.
Part 6 (Gapped text)

What's in Part 6? A text from which paragraphs have been removed and placed in jumbled order after the text. Candidates must decide from where in the text the paragraphs have been removed. 
What do I have to practise? Understanding of cohesion, coherence, text structure, global meaning.
How many questions are there? 7 
How many marks are there? 2 marks for each correct answer.
Part 7 (Multiple matching)

What's in Part 7? A text, or several short texts, preceded by multiple-matching questions. Candidates must match a prompt to elements in the text. 
What do I have to practise? Understanding of detail, opinion, attitude and specific information.
How many questions are there? 10 
How many marks are there? 1 mark for each correct answer.

What’s in the Writing paper?

In the two parts of the Cambridge English: Proficiency Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English.

Summary

Time allowed: 1 hour 30 minutes 
Number of parts: 2
Number of questions: Part 1: one compulsory question 
Part 2: one question from a choice of four
Set texts

Set texts for Cambridge English: Proficiency January 2014 – December 2015:

E. M. Forster: Howards End (any edition) 
Teachers may choose to prepare candidates for questions on this set text by studying the film directed by James Ivory (1992) as well as, or instead of, the novel.

Nick Hornby: An Education (screenplay) and film directed by Lone Scherfig (2009).

Candidates should not attempt the optional set text question in Part 2 unless they have the necessary understanding of the text to answer the task set.

Teachers are best placed to judge which, if any, of the set texts and/or film versions may be appropriate and stimulating for a given teaching situation.

Part 1

What's in Part 1? Some material to read (two texts, each approximately 100 words). Using the information in this material, you have to write an essay.
What do I have to practise? Writing a discursive essay in which you have to summarise and evaluate the key points contained in two texts of approximately 100 words each. Candidates must integrate a summary of these key points, an evaluation of the abstract arguments involved and their own ideas on the topic in a coherent essay.
How many questions are there? One compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 240–280 words

Part 2

What's in Part 2? A choice of four questions (2–5). For Questions 2–4, you may have to write an article, a letter, a report or a review.
What about Question 5? If you read one of the set books and want to write about it, you may decide to try Question 5. You have a choice of two tasks, 5(a) or 5(b) for this question. You may have to write an article, essay, letter, report or a review.
What do I have to practise? Writing different types of text as specified above, based on a given context.
How many questions are there? One question from a choice of four.
How much do I have to write? 280–320 words

What’s in the Listening paper?

The Cambridge English: Proficiency Listening paper has four parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.

Summary

Time allowed: About 40 minutes
Number of parts: 4
Number of questions: 30 
Part 1 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 1? Four short, unrelated recordings lasting approximately 1 minute each. You have to listen to the recordings and answer two multiple-choice questions for each recording. Each question has three options (A, B or C).
What do I have to practise? Listening for gist, detail, function, purpose, topic, speaker, addressee, feeling, attitude, opinion, etc.
How many questions are there? 6 
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.
Part 2 (Sentence completion)

What's in Part 2? A monologue or prompted monologue lasting 3–4 minutes. The questions are a series of incomplete sentences. You have to listen to the recording and identify the information you need (one to three words) to fill each gap.
What do I have to practise? Listening for specific information, stated opinion.
How many questions are there? 9
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.
Part 3 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 3? A recording with interacting speakers lasting 3–4 minutes. You have to listen to the recording and answer a series of multiple-choice questions, each with four options (A, B, C or D).
What do I have to practise? Listening for opinion, gist, detail, inference.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.
Part 4 (Multiple matching)

What's in Part 4? Five short, themed monologues, of approximately 35 seconds each. There are two multiple-matching tasks. Each multiple-matching task requires the selection of the five correct options from a list of eight. 
What do I have to practise? Gist, attitude, main points, interpreting context.
How many questions are there? 10 
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.

What’s in the Speaking paper?

The Cambridge English: Proficiency Speaking test has three parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners (the interlocutor) conducts the test and the other examiner (the assessor) listens to what you say and takes notes.

Summary

Time allowed: 16 minutes per pair of candidates
Number of parts: 3
You have to talk: with the examiner 
with the other candidate 
on your own
Part 1 (Interview)

What's in Part 1? Conversation between the interlocutor and each candidate. The examiner asks each of you a series of questions, addressing a question to each of you in turn, to give you an opportunity to talk about yourselves.
What do I have to practise? Giving information about yourself and expressing your opinion or speculating about various topics.
How long does Part 1 last? 2 minutes
Part 2 (Collaborative task)

What's in Part 2? The interlocutor gives you some spoken instructions and one or more pictures to look at. First, you have to answer a question which focuses on your reaction to aspects of one or more pictures (1 minute). The second part is a decision-making task which you have to do with the other candidate.
What do I have to practise? Sustaining an interaction: exchanging ideas, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing, suggesting, speculating, evaluating, reaching a decision through negotiation, etc.
How long does Part 2 last? 4 minutes
Part 3 (Long turn and discussion)

What's in Part 3? The interlocutor gives you a card with a question and some ideas on it and you have to speak for about 2 minutes on your own. After you finish, your partner has to comment and the interlocutor then asks you both a question on the same topic. The interlocutor follows the same procedure with your partner and then leads a discussion with both of you.
What do I have to practise? Speaking on your own for a longer time, expressing and justifying opinions, developing topics.
How long does Part 3 last? 10 minutes (2-minute long turn for each candidate and then approximately 6 minutes for the discussion).