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C A M B R I D G EE X A M I N A T I O N S , C E R T I F I C A T E S & D I P L O M A S

English as aForeign Language







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This Handbook is intended principally for teachers andcourse designers who are, or intend to become, involved inpreparing candidates for the Certificate in Advanced English(CAE). There are separate Handbooks for other CambridgeEFL examinations.

The introductory part of the handbook provides a generalbackground to the Cambridge EFL examinations and anoverview of the work of UCLES-EFL, including a descriptionof current procedures for test design, production andmarking.

For further information on any of the Cambridge EFLexaminations, please contact:

EFL InformationUniversity of Cambridge Local Examinations SyndicateSyndicate Buildings1 Hills RoadCambridgeCB1 2EU

Tel: +44 1223 553355Fax: +44 1223 460278email: [email protected]


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The following changes to CAE are being introduced from theDecember 1999/June 2000 examining sessions:

Paper 3 (see page 32)

The following changes to CAE Paper 3 are being introducedfor the first time in the December 1999 examining session:

A new task appears on the paper. This is a word formationtask consisting of two short texts containing in total 15 gaps.Candidates are required to form a new word to complete thegap using a prompt word provided.

The current Question 6 (expansion of notes into sentences)will no longer appear on the paper.

Paper 3 thus consists of:

Part 1 (formerly Section A, question 1) Multiple choice cloze

Part 2 (formerly Section A, question 2) Open cloze

Part 3 (formerly Section B, question 3) Error correction text

Part 4 Word formation (a new task)

Part 5 (formerly Section B, question 4) Register change gap-fill task

Part 6 (formerly Section C, question 5)

The time allowed for the paper (1 hour and 30 minutes)remains unchanged.

Paper 4 (see page 40)

The following change to CAE Paper 4 is being introduced forthe first time in the June 2000 examining session:

Part 4 (formerly Section D): the taped material remainsunchanged (i.e. five short listening texts with commontheme), but an alternative task will be introduced in someversions of the test consisting of ten 3-option multiplechoice questions, with two questions relating to each shorttext.

Paper 5 (see page 49)

The following changes to CAE Paper 5 are being introducedfor the first time in the December 1999 examining session:

In Part 2 ‘describe and draw’ tasks no longer appear in thespecifications for the test.

In Part 4 the Assessor no longer takes part in the discussion.


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Introduction to UCLES

The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate(UCLES) was established as a department of the University ofCambridge in 1858 in order to set a standard of efficiencyfor schools in England. The Cambridge examinations cover awide range of academic and vocational subjects and includeexaminations specially designed for the international market.

Examinations in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) werestarted at UCLES in 1913, with the Certificate of Proficiencyin English (CPE). The First Certificate in English (FCE) wasintroduced in 1939. Other EFL examinations and schemesfor Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) havebeen added periodically since then, so that UCLES nowoffers the most comprehensive range of EFL examinationsand TEFL schemes with a total annual candidature of over500,000.

The English as a Foreign Language (EFL)

UCLES-EFL has specific responsibility for all the professionaland specialist aspects of the EFL examinations and the TEFLschemes. The EFL team is made up of staff withqualifications mainly in the area of applied linguistics andTEFL, and with considerable experience in overseas teachingsituations.

The work of UCLES-EFL covers four main areas:

• question paper production;

• support for the administration of the examinations(particularly the Speaking Tests);

• processing of examinations (marking, etc.);

• user service.

In all these areas there is a programme of ongoingvalidation, and specialist staff work on analysis andevaluation. The aim is to ensure that standards are being metand that the examinations develop in order to meet thechanging needs of candidates and other test users.

The core of the EFL system is the question paper productionprocess. This is described in detail on pages 6 and 7.

UCLES-EFL is responsible for ensuring that variousprofessional requirements are met. This includes, forexample, the development and implementation of trainingand monitoring procedures which are required for carryingout the assessment of spoken and written language byexaminers. UCLES-EFL is also responsible for theadministration and processing of examinations.

For UCLES-EFL, user service concerns professional matterssuch as the production of information for test users, e.g.specifications, handbooks, sample materials, examinationreports, etc. It is also the responsibility of EFL e.g.specifications, handbooks, sample materials, examinationreports, etc. It is also the responsibility of EFL staff to ensurethat obligations to test users are met, and that in this contextUCLES EFL examinations fulfil the Code of Practiceestablished by the Association of Language Testers in Europe(see below). This Code of Practice focuses on theresponsibilities of both examination providers andexamination users and covers four main areas:

• developing examinations;

• interpreting examination results;

• striving for fairness;

• informing examination takers.

The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE)

UCLES is a member of the Association of Language Testers inEurope (ALTE) which was formed in 1990. The members areall providers of language examinations and certificates fromcountries within the European Union.

The principal objectives of ALTE are as follows:

• to establish a framework of levels of proficiency in order to promote the transnational recognition of certification, especially in Europe;

• to establish common standards for all stages of the language testing process: i.e., for test development, question and item writing, test administration, marking and grading, reporting of test results, test analysis and reporting of findings;

• to collaborate on joint projects and in the exchangeof ideas and know-how.

At the present stage of development of the framework,considerable agreement has been reached on the contentdefinition of all five levels of proficiency. Further empiricalresearch is taking place.

More information about ALTE and copies of ALTE documentscan be obtained from the ALTE Secretariat at UCLES.


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Cambridge Level Five

Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

Cambridge Level One

Key English Test (KET)

Cambridge Level Two

Preliminary English Test (PET)

Cambridge Level Three

First Certificate in English (FCE)

Cambridge Level Four

Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)




The Production Cycle for Pretested Question Papers

UCLES employs a team of Item Writers to produceexamination material, and throughout the writing and editingprocess strict guidelines are followed in order to ensure thatthe materials conform to the test specifications. Topics orcontexts of language use which might introduce a biasagainst any group of candidates of a particular background(i.e., on the basis of sex, ethnic origin, etc.) are avoided.

After selection and editing, the items are compiled intopretest papers. Pretesting plays a central role as it allows forquestions and materials with known measurementcharacteristics to be banked so that new versions of questionpapers can be produced as and when required. Thepretesting process helps to ensure that all versions conformto the test requirements in terms of content and level ofdifficulty.

Each pretest paper contains anchor items or is supplied tocandidates with an additional anchor test. The anchor itemsare carefully chosen on the basis of their knownmeasurement characteristics and their inclusion means thatall new items can be linked to a common scale of difficulty.

Pretest papers are despatched to a wide variety of EFLschools and colleges, which have offered to administer thepretests to candidates of a suitable level. After the completedpretests are returned to the Pretesting Section of the EFLDivision, a score for each student is provided to the centrewithin two weeks of receiving the completed scripts. Theitems are marked and analysed, and those which are foundto be suitable are banked.

Material for the productive components of the examinationsis trialled with candidates to assess its suitability forinclusion in the Materials Bank.

The UCLES Main Suite: A Five-Level System

UCLES has developed a series of examinations with similarcharacteristics, spanning five levels. Within the series of fivelevels, the Certificate in Advanced English is at CambridgeLevel Four.

In 1998 there were over 50,000 candidates for the CAEexamination throughout the world.


Pre-editing and editingof material

Pretest construction




Item Analysis


Question paperconstruction

*electronic bank for pretested materials

Commissioning of material for question papers

The Production of EFL Question Papers

The production process for question papers for EFLexaminations and TEFL schemes begins with thecommissioning of material and ends with the printing ofquestion papers.

For the majority of EFL question papers there are five mainstages in the production process:

• commissioning;

• editing;

• pretesting/trialling;

• analysis and banking of material;

• question paper construction.

This process can be represented in the diagram below.


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CAE was introduced in December 1991. It is designed tooffer a high-level qualification in the language to thosewishing to use English for professional or study purposes. It is also designed to encourage the development of the skillsrequired by students progressing towards CPE, with emphasisvery much on real-world tasks.

The Level of CAE

As well as being at Cambridge Level Four, CAE also fallswithin Level Four of the ALTE framework, and a briefdescription of this level is given below. This description isnot a specification for the examination content but refers tolanguage activities in real-world, non-examination contexts.

ALTE Level Four - Competent User

At this level, learners are expected to be able to use thestructures of a language with ease and fluency. They areaware of the relationship between the language and theculture it exists in, and of the significance of register. Thismeans that to some extent they are able to adapt theirlanguage use to a variety of social situations, and expressopinions and take part in discussions and arguments in aculturally acceptable way. Learners at this level can developtheir own interests in reading both factual and fictional texts.They can also produce a variety of types of texts andutterances, such as letters of varying degrees of formality.They can use language in a creative and flexible way, withthe ability to respond appropriately to unforeseen as well aspredictable situations, producing quite long and complexutterances.

The written and spoken texts encountered in most commoneveryday situations can be dealt with at a level below thatreached by the Level Four Learner, but certain more difficultsituations, e.g., connected with renting accommodation,demand this level of language. Users at this level can enjoya wide range of social contacts.

Examinations at Level Four may be used as proof of the levelof language necessary to work at a managerial orprofessional level or follow a course of academic study atuniversity level.


CAE is recognised by the majority of British universities forEnglish language entrance requirements. These are listed in aleaflet ‘Recognition in Britain’ available from UCLES. Moreinformation about recognition is also available from BritishCouncil Offices.

CAE Candidature

Information is collected about the CAE candidates at eachsession, when candidates fill in a Candidate InformationSheet. The candidates for CAE come from a wide range ofbackgrounds and take the examination for a number ofdifferent reasons. The following points summarise thecharacteristics of the current CAE candidature.

Nationality - CAE is taken by candidates throughout theworld in about 67 countries, although the total number ofnationalities represented in the candidature is over 175. Themajority of these candidates enter for CAE in European andSouth American countries. Many candidates also take theexamination in the UK.

Age - Nearly 80% of candidates are under 25, with theaverage age being about 23. In some countries the averageage is lower (e.g., in Greece it is about 17).

Gender - About 70% of candidates are female.

Employment - Most candidates are students, although thereare considerable differences in the proportion of students indifferent countries.

Exam Preparation - A large proportion of candidates (about80%) undertake a preparatory course before taking theexamination.

Reasons for taking CAE - Candidates’ reasons for wanting anEnglish language qualification are roughly distributed asfollows:

• for study (44%) • for work (41%) • other (15%)


Reading 1 hour 15 minutes

Writing 2 hours

English in Use 1 hour 30 minutes

Listening 45 minutes (approximately)

Speaking 15 minutes (approximately)

The examination consists of five papers:


Candidates are expected to be able to read and understandtexts taken from magazines, newspapers, leaflets, etc. Theyshould demonstrate a variety of reading skills includingskimming, scanning, deduction of meaning from context andselection of relevant information to complete the given task.


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There are four compulsory texts, giving a total of about3,000 words. There are forty to fifty questions. The threemain task types are: multiple matching, multiple choice andgapped text.


Candidates are expected to complete non-specialist writingtasks in response to the stimuli provided (input text and taskdescriptions). The input texts are taken from articles, leaflets,notices, formal and informal letters, etc. Both audience andpurpose are made clear in the task descriptions.

The first part is compulsory and candidates must completeone or more tasks in response to a reading input which isusually made up of several short texts. The second partinvolves choosing one of four tasks from a range of writingactivities (letters, articles, instructions, messages, etc.).Responses should be about 250 words in length.

English in Use

Candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to applytheir knowledge of the language system by completing tasksbased on authentic passages. They must complete six taskswith a total of eighty items. The tasks include the followingtypes: cloze exercises, gap filling, proof-reading exercises,word formation exercises and text completion.


Candidates are expected to understand each text as a whole,gain detailed understanding and appreciate gist and theattitude of the speaker. They must also be able to identifyand interpret the context. Texts take the form ofannouncements, speeches, radio broadcasts, etc.

There are four parts lasting approximately forty-five minutesin all, with a total of thirty to forty questions. The first twoparts consist of two short monologues, the third of a longerdialogue/interview and the fourth of conversational extracts.The tasks candidates are asked to perform include thefollowing: information transfer, multiple choice, varioustypes of matching and note completion.


The Speaking paper is conducted by two examiners with apair of candidates. They must be able to demonstrate a rangeof oral skills: interactional, social, transactional, negotiationand collaboration. The test lasts for about fifteen minutes.

The candidates first respond to one another’s and theInterlocutor’s questions about their interests, careers, etc.Each candidate is then given a set of visual stimuli whichserves to encourage a ‘long turn’ from each candidate.

The final two parts are linked. The candidates first completea collaborative task. This is followed by further discussionbetween candidates and the Interlocutor on points whichhave arisen from the collaborative task.


The five CAE papers total 200 marks, after weighting. Eachpaper is weighted to 40 marks.

A candidate’s overall CAE grade is based on the total scoregained by the candidate in all five papers. It is not necessaryto achieve a satisfactory level in all five papers in order topass the examination.

The overall grade boundaries (A, B, C, D and E) are setaccording to the following information:

• statistics on the candidature;

• statistics on overall candidate performance;

• statistics on individual items, for those parts of the examination for which this is appropriate (Papers 1,3 and 4);

• advice, based on the performance of candidates, and recommendations of examiners where this is relevant (Papers 2 and 5);

• comparison with statistics from previous years’examination performance and candidature.

Results are reported as three passing grades (A, B and C) andtwo failing grades (D and E). The minimum successfulperformance which a candidate typically requires in order toachieve a Grade C corresponds to about 60% of the totalmarks. Statements of results for those candidates whoachieve a pass grade provide an indication of those papersin which an outstanding performance has been achieved.Statements of results for those candidates who fail with gradeD and E provide an indication of those papers in whichperformance is particularly weak.


The Awarding Committee meets after the grade boundarieshave been confirmed. It deals with all cases presented forspecial consideration, e.g. temporary disability,unsatisfactory examination conditions, suspected collusion,etc. The committee can decide to ask for scripts to be re-marked, to check results, to change grades, to withholdresults, etc. Results may be withheld because of infringementof regulations or because further investigation is needed.Centres are notified if a candidate’s results have beenscrutinised by the Awarding Committee.

Notification of Results

Statements of results are issued through centresapproximately two months after the examination has been


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Course Materials

A number of course books and practice materials areavailable from publishers. A comprehensive list of thosepublished by members of the Publishers’ Association isavailable from UCLES. CAE requires an all-round languageability and this should be borne in mind when selectingcourse materials. Most course books will need to besupplemented; care should be taken to ensure that coursebooks and practice materials selected accurately reflect thecontent and format of the examination.N.B. UCLES does not undertake to advise on text books orcourses of study.

Past Papers & Examination Reports

Past examination papers, which can be used for practice, areavailable from Local Secretaries and from the PublicationsDepartment at UCLES. The sample question papers includedin this Handbook (in reduced format) are taken fromprevious CAE examinations and trialled materials.Examination Reports are also available from LocalSecretaries or from UCLES. However, candidates are stronglyadvised not to concentrate unduly on working throughpractice tests and examinations as this will not by itself makethem more proficient in the different skills.

Seminars for Teachers

UCLES offers a wide range of seminars designed for teachersconcerned with the EFL examinations; some are also suitableas introductions for administrators, school directors, etc.Some seminars are intended to provide information andsupport for teachers who are familiar with the examinations,and others can be used to introduce teachers to establishedexaminations and also to new UCLES examinations. ContactEFL Information for further details.

Certificates are issued about six weeks after the issue ofstatements of results. Enquiries about results may be madethrough Local Secretaries, within a month of the issue ofstatements of results.


CAE is held each year in June and December in about 1,000centres worldwide. Candidates must enter through arecognised centre.

Special Arrangements

Special arrangements are available for disabled candidates.These may include extra time, separate accommodation orequipment, Braille transcription, etc. Consult the UCLESLocal Secretary in your area for more details.

Further Information

Copies of the Regulations and details of entry procedure,current fees and further information about this and otherCambridge examinations can be obtained from the LocalSecretary for UCLES examinations in your area, or from:

EFLUCLES 1 Hills RoadCambridgeCB1 2EU

Telephone: +44 1223 553355Fax: +44 1223 460278

In some areas this information can also be obtained from theBritish Council.


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PA P E R 1 R E A D I N G

General Description

Paper Format

The paper contains four parts. Each part contains a text andcorresponding comprehension tasks. A text may consist ofseveral short pieces.

Number of Questions

Approximately 50.

Length of Texts

3,000 words approximately overall; 450 - 1,200 wordsapproximately per text.

Text Types

From the following: newspapers, magazines, journals, non-literary books, leaflets, brochures, etc.

From the following: informational, descriptive, narrative,persuasive, opinion/comment, advice/instructional,imaginative/journalistic.

Task Types

Multiple matching, multiple choice, gapped text.

Task Focus

Understanding gist, main points, detail, text structure orspecific information, deducing meaning or recognisingopinion/attitude.


For all parts of this paper, candidates indicate their answersby shading the correct lozenges on an answer sheet.


1 hour 15 minutes.


One mark is given for each correct answer to the multiple-matching tasks; two marks are given for each correct answerto the multiple-choice and gapped-text tasks.






Task Typeand Focus

Multiple matchingMain focus: specificinformation

Gapped textMain focus: text structure

Multiple choiceMain focus: detail,opinion/attitude

Multiple matchingMain focus: specificinformation


6 or 7



A text preceded by multiple-matching questions. Candidates must match a prompt from one list toa prompt in another list, or match prompts toelements in the text.

A text followed by four-option multiple-choicequestions.

A text from which paragraphs have been removedand placed in jumbled order after the text.Candidates must decide from where in the text theparagraphs have been removed.

As 1st Text.

Number ofQuestions

Task Format


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Students should practise skimming and scanning texts,looking for sections of the text which are close in meaning tothe wording of the questions. They should be discouragedfrom selecting an answer solely on the basis of lexicalproximity, however, since careful reading of a particular partof the text is required to ensure an accurate match in termsof meaning. Candidates for the Reading paper need practicein doing multiple-matching tasks within a certain time-limitand without recourse to a dictionary.

Part 2 of the Reading paper, the gapped-text task, testsunderstanding of how texts are structured and the ability topredict text development. The task requires candidates toselect from a number of choices the paragraphs which fit thegaps in a text; only one answer is correct in each case. Thetask consists of a single-page gapped text followed by theextracts from the text and one extra paragraph which doesnot fit in any of the gaps. Candidates should be trained toread the gapped text first in order to gain an overall idea ofthe structure and the meaning of the text, and to noticecarefully the information and ideas before and after each gapas well as throughout the gapped text. The way in which atext has been gapped may require the reader to considerlarge sections of the text, including more than one gap, inorder to reconstitute a particular part of the text; candidatesshould be trained to consider the development of the text asa whole, and not to focus on each gap separately.Sometimes candidates will need to choose carefully betweentwo extracts as possible answers and will need practice inmaking decisions about which is the most logical extract tofill the particular gap. Practice is needed in a wide range oflinguistic devices which mark the logical and cohesivedevelopment of a text, e.g. words and phrases indicatingtime, cause and effect, contrasting arguments; pronouns,repetition; use of verb tenses.

Candidates should beware of approaching the gapped-texttask as an exercise requiring them merely to identify extractsfrom the text and sections in the text containing the samewords, including names and dates; the task is designed totest understanding of the development of ideas, opinions,events rather than the superficial recognition of individualwords.

Part 3 of the Reading paper, the multiple-choice task, testsdetailed understanding of the text, including opinions andattitudes; candidates need to read the text closely in order todistinguish between apparently similar viewpoints,outcomes, reasons. The task consists of a single-page textfollowed by a number of questions; the questions arepresented in the same order as the information in the text sothat candidates can follow the development of the text. Thefinal question may depend on interpretation of the text as awhole, e.g. the writer’s purpose, attitude or opinion.Candidates should read each question very carefully, as wellas the four possible answers, all of which may at first appearto be likely answers. The questions can be answeredcorrectly only by close reference to the text.



The Reading paper consists of four parts, tested by means ofdifferent types of task. The range of texts and task typeswhich appear on the Reading paper is intended to encouragefamiliarity with texts from a range of sources, written fordifferent purposes and presented in different formats. TheReading paper aims to test skills which reflect the real-worldneeds of learners/users of English at an advanced level, i.e.the ability to process large quantities of text in real time.

The variety of sources used for texts on the Reading paper isreflected in the contents of coursebooks and skills booksavailable for CAE students. Students should also beencouraged to read widely outside the classroom, for theirown needs and interests.

Task Focus and Format

The task formats included on the Reading paper indicate themain purposes for reading.

Part 1 of the paper, the first multiple-matching task, tests theability to locate particular information, including opinion orattitude, by skimming and scanning a text. The task consistsof one or two sets of questions followed by a single page oftext; the text may be continuous, or consist of a group ofshort texts or of a text divided into sections. Candidates are required to match the questions with therelevant information from the text. Some of the answers maybe correct for more than one question, and there may bemore than one correct answer to some questions; if so, theinstructions to candidates will indicate this. The range ofpossible answers may be presented in the form of a list of,for example, names of people or places, titles of books orfilms, types of occupation, sections of a text. The questionsfor the multiple-matching task are printed before the text sothat the candidate knows what to look for in the text; wherethe text is made up of several sections or shorter texts, with anumber of options to choose from in order to answer eachquestion, it can be helpful to skim the whole text beforescanning it for the specific information required. Candidatesshould notice the particular wording of questions since theseare intended to lead the reader to specific information and todisregard irrelevant information. Candidates should practisescanning texts for particular information required and notfeel that they must read every word in the text.

In preparing for Part 1 of the CAE Reading paper, candidatesshould practise reading the instructions carefully andnoticing the information they provide regarding the type oftext, its content and the precise nature of the multiple-matching task. It can be helpful for students tounderline key words in the questions as this helps whentrying to find the information in the text which provides theanswers.


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Candidates should be encouraged to read the text beforereading the multiple-choice questions. Preparation for themultiple-choice task should include practice in reading thetext quickly for a first overall impression, followed by closereading of the text in order to prevent any misunderstandingswhich may lead candidates to choose an answersubsequently proved wrong by the text.

Part 4 of the CAE Reading paper complements Part 1; bothare multiple-matching tasks, testing candidates’ ability tolocate specific information in a text. Part 4 usually requirescandidates to scan a two-page text; this may be continuousor made up of a group of shorter texts or sections of text. Theadvice on examination practice for Part 1 also applies to Part 4; in addition, candidates should be reminded to foldout the second page of the text so that all the information isavailable to them simultaneously.

When preparing for the examination, it is helpful forcandidates to spend time going through past papers. TheReading paper has a standard structure and format so thatcandidates will know, in general terms, what to expect ineach part of the paper. The number of questions within atask may vary for different CAE Reading tests, though thetotal number of questions remains fairly constant.

It is important to familiarise candidates with the instructionson the front page of the test, and for each part of the text;candidates should also be familiar with the technique ofindicating their answers on the separate answer sheet so thatthey can do this quickly and accurately. Some candidatesprefer to transfer their answers at the end of each task ratherthan wait until the end of the examination, to ensureaccuracy of transfer and in case they do not finish the paper.


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PA P E R 2 W R I T I N G

General Description

Paper Format

The paper contains two parts.

Number of Tasks

Candidates are required to complete two tasks: a compulsoryone in Part 1 and one from a choice of four in Part 2.

Task Types

From the following: newspaper and magazine articles,contributions to leaflets and brochures, notices,announcements, personal notes and messages, formal andinformal letters, reports, reviews, instructions, directions,competition entries, information sheets, memos, written for agiven purpose and target reader.


Candidates write their answers on separate answer paper.


2 hours.


Each question in this paper carries equal marks.



Task Type and Focus

Applying informationcontained in the input,selecting & summarisinginput, comparing items ofinformation; writing texttypes from the following:newspaper and magazinearticles, contributions toleaflets and brochures,notices, announcements,personal notes andmessages, formal andinformal letters, reports,reviews, instructions,directions, competitionentries, informationsheets, memos.

Writing text types asfor Part 2.

One or morecompulsory tasks.

Approx. 250 wordsin total.

One task from achoice of four.

Approx. 250 words.

Candidates are required to deal withsubstantial reading input well below theexpected reading comprehension level ofCAE. Input may consist of severalindividual texts and visuals.

Task descriptions specified inapproximately five lines each.

Number of Tasksand Length

Task FormatPart


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Part 1

Part 1 is compulsory and requires candidates to processabout 400 words of input material, using the informationappropriately to perform the task required. Candidates mustcarefully read all the input material, selecting that which isimportant and ignoring the irrelevant. Input material mayconsist of varied combinations of text and notes, sometimessupported by illustrations or diagrams. The task is oftendivided into more than one section. Task types will vary inPart 1, and may include formal letters, informal letters,reports, articles, notes or any combination of these.

Part 2

In Part 2, candidates have to choose one of four tasks. Thispart covers a range of task types, such as articles, reports andleaflets, and includes a work-orientated task as one of thefour questions.

Students must become aware of the need to adopt anappropriate style, layout and register for the format (or texttype) of each writing task: the overall aim of the task beingto have a positive effect on the target reader. Teachers needto spend time focusing on the key elements of text genre anddraw attention to the differences and constraints involved.Notes, for example, need to be concise, while a reportshould not look like an ‘opinion’ composition. Candidatesshould be told to avoid selecting a task in Part 2 if they areunfamiliar with the appropriate features of the particularformat. Equally, candidates with no relevant businessexperience would be best advised not to choose the businessquestion. During the preparation stage, students can learn towrite in a variety of styles and registers and identify whichtasks are best suited to their interests and experience.

Examiners are looking for an appropriate selection andexpansion of the key points. Paragraphs should be wellorganised and points need to be appropriately linked.Therefore, answers need to be planned carefully andstudents may need help in this respect. They also need topractise checking their work for errors and inaccuracies. Toget them into the habit, teachers can encourage students togive homework a final check, in class, before handing it in.

Answers which suffer from irrelevance, repetition, deviation,needless repetition of rubric, illegibility, misinterpretation, oromission are likely to be penalised. In assessing writtenwork, teachers should become familiar with the assessmentcriteria and try to apply them. Examiners will consider anumber of factors, such as: content, organisation, cohesion,range of structure and vocabulary, register and effect ontarget reader. Feedback on students’ written work whichrelates to the assessment criteria will help them to learn whatis being assessed and where their strengths and weaknesseslie.

Some students fail to do as well as they might otherwise, dueto their poor grammar. To help rectify this, teachers shouldencourage students to spend time looking carefully at theircorrected written work. Serious, numerous and/or repetitiveerrors may need to be dealt with systematically. There arevarious ways in which this might be done. Some studentsmay benefit from re-writing their work, in whole or in part,leaving gaps where grammatical errors occur. They can thengo back to the gapped version later and try to fill the gaps.Further remedial action may be taken where errors persist.Model answers which incorporate typical student errors,such as spelling, unecessary and omitted words can alsohelp students to identify and correct common grammaticalerrors.

Well-written model answers can also provide students withgood examples of natural language appropriate to the task.However, care should be taken. Students do not need towrite ‘perfect’ answers and model answers which are beyondthe level to which students might reasonably aspire might bedemotivating and therefore should be avoided.

To become more effective at written communication,students often need to improve the range and extent of theirproductive vocabulary. Wordlists, recycling activities,vocabulary games and exercises, as well as extensive andintensive reading practice will serve to achieve this aim.


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An impression mark is awarded to each piece of writing; alltasks carry the same maximum mark.

The general impression mark scheme is used in conjunctionwith a task-specific mark scheme, which focuses on criteriaspecific to each particular task, including relevance, range ofstructure, vocabulary and presentation and register.

The criteria for assessment with reference to the generalimpression mark scheme are summarised as follows.

Band 5 Minimal errors: resourceful, controlled and natural use of language, showing goodrange of vocabulary and structure. Task fully completed, with good use of cohesivedevices, consistently appropriate register. No relevant omissions. N.B. Not necessarily a flawless performance.Very positive effect on target reader.

Sufficiently natural, errors only when more complex language attempted. Someevidence of range of vocabulary and structure. Good realisation of task, only minoromissions. Attention paid to organisation and cohesion; register usually appropriate.Positive effect on target reader achieved.

(a) Fewer than 50 words per question.or (b) Totally illegible work.or (c) Total irrelevance (often a previously prepared answer to a different question).

Band 4

Band 3

Band 2

Band 1

Band 0

Either (a) task reasonably achieved, accuracy of language satisfactory and adequaterange of vocabulary and range of structures or (b) an ambitious attempt at the task,causing a number of non-impeding errors, but a good range of vocabulary andstructure demonstrated. There may be minor omissions, but content clearly organised.Would achieve the required effect on target reader.

Some attempt at task but lack of expansion and/or notable omissions/irrelevancies.Noticeable lifting of language from the input, often inappropriately. Errors sometimesobscure communication and/or language is too elementary for this level. Content notclearly organised.Would have a negative effect on target reader.

Serious lack of control and/or frequent basic errors. Narrow range of language.Inadequate attempt at task. Very negative effect on target reader.


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Examiners discuss these individual mark schemes and referto them regularly while they are working.

During marking, each examiner is apportioned scriptschosen on a random basis from the whole entry in order toensure there is no concentration of good or weak scripts orof one large centre of one country in the allocation of anyone examiner. A rigorous process of co-ordination andchecking is carried out before and throughout the markingprocess.


The specific number of words used is not taken into account(except in Band 0), as length is an integral part of taskachievement. Significantly fewer words are likely to meanthat the task has not been completed, whereas over-longpieces of writing may involve irrelevance or have a negativeeffect on the target reader. If this is the case, over-length willbe penalised.


Work which is difficult to read is penalised by a one orpossibly two-band reduction depending on the degree ofillegibility.


American spelling is acceptable, but there should beconsistency. Poor spelling is penalised by a one-bandreduction if it interferes with communication.


The examiners’ first priority is to give credit for thecandidates’ efforts at communication, but candidates whointroduce blatantly irrelevant material learned by heart orwho deliberately misinterpret the question are penalised.


Following the conventions of writing letters, reports andinstructions is part of task achievement. Any acceptablemodern layout for a formal letter may be used. Paragraphs should be clearly laid out either by indenting orby leaving a space between each paragraph.


The panel of examiners is divided into small teams, eachwith a very experienced examiner as Team Leader. ThePrincipal Examiner guides and monitors the marking process,beginning with a meeting of the Principal Examiner and theTeam Leaders. This is held immediately after the examinationand begins the process of establishing a common standard ofassessment by the selection of sample scripts for all thequestions in Paper 2. These are chosen to demonstrate therange of responses and different levels of competence, and atask-specific mark scheme is finalised for each individualtask on the paper. This summarises the content, organisationand cohesion, range of structures and vocabulary, registerand format, and target reader indicated in the task, in theform of satisfactory band descriptors. The accuracy oflanguage, including spelling and punctuation, is assessed onthe general impression scale for all tasks.


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PA P E R 3 E N G L I S H I N U S E

General Description

Paper Format

The paper contains six parts.

Number of Questions


Task Types

Multiple choice cloze, open cloze, error correction, wordformation, register transfer, gapped text.

Task Focus

Understanding and control of the formal elements oflanguage in context.


For all parts of this paper candidates write their answers onan answer sheet.


1 hour 30 minutes.


One mark is given for each correct answer.








Task Type and Focus

Multiple choice cloze

An emphasis on lexis

Open cloze

An emphasis on structure

Error correction

An emphasis on proof-reading

Word formation

An emphasis on wordformation

Register transfer

An emphasis on register

Gapped text

An emphasis oncohesion and coherence







A modified cloze text of approximately 200words containing 15 gaps and followed by 15four-option multiple choice questions.

A modified cloze text of approximately 200words containing 15 gaps.

A text of about 200 words containing errors asspecified in the rubric, e.g., extra words, mis-spellings, punctuation errors, etc., which must beidentified.

Two short texts of up to 130 words each.Candidates must form an appropriate word tocomplete each gap using the given promptwords.

Two texts, each about 150 words in length. Thefirst may include information in tabular ordiagrammatic form, and is followed by anincomplete (gapped) text providing the sameinformation in a different register.

A text of about 300 words with gaps at phraseand/or sentence level followed by a list of 10options. Candidates must select the correctoptions from the list to complete the text.

Number ofQuestions

Task Format


Page 17

words and candidates should be encouraged to learn wholephrases rather than words in isolation.

With gapped texts (as in tasks 1, 2 and 6), it is a good ideafor candidates to start by thinking briefly about the title asthis might provide clues as to style and/or subject matter. Byreading the text through quickly, ignoring the gaps as muchas possible, candidates will become aware of the generalsubject of the text and its style. Consideration of suchfeatures may help when deciding which words are right.When deciding which word or phrase should go in eachgap, candidates must give careful consideration to the localcontext and other parts of the text as well. Clues may lie in anumber of features, such as the grammatical context and/orthe punctuation. While the absence or misuse of capitalletters in answers is ignored, incorrect spelling is penalised.

The exact nature of the correction task varies from paper topaper, so candidates must learn to look carefully at the taskrubric and the example answers, and follow the guidancethey offer. The skill of proof-reading can have obviousbenefits for candidates’ own writing. Teachers may choose toindicate to students in which lines of their written workerrors have occurred to provide further proof-readingpractice. Teachers may also choose to encourage students toproof-read and help correct each other’s written work.

In the word formation task candidates should look at thesurrounding context to determine the word class of themissing word. Concentrating on the use of prefixes andsuffixes to build words and focusing on how words changeword class will help candidates, not only in this task, butalso to further extend their own lexicons.

To prepare for the fifth task, the transfer of information fromone text type to another, candidates will benefit fromextensive work on text comparison. They need to becomeacquainted with the relevant grammatical and lexicalfeatures of different styles of writing. This will also haveobvious benefits for candidates’ writing for Paper Two.


The English in Use paper is divided into six parts, each partbeing defined in terms of its task type and language focus.

In Part 1, candidates must choose one word from a set offour (A, B, C, D) to fill a gap in a text. This involveschoosing the answer which has the right meaning and fitsboth in the local grammatical context and within the text asa whole. This part of the paper tests phrases andcollocations, as well as idioms and phrasal verbs, andlinkers.

Part 2 is an open modified cloze containing fifteen gaps,testing awareness and control of structural items. Answersmust be correct both syntactically and semantically. A singleword is needed to fill each gap but there may be more thanone word acceptable for each gap.

Part 3 consists of a correction exercise of which there aretwo types. In the first, candidates have to identify additionalwords which are incorporated into the text. In the secondtype, errors of spelling and punctuation have to beidentified. There are 16 lines to be corrected and candidatesshould not expect more than five lines to be correct.

Part 4 is designed to test awareness of word formation. Thetask requires candidates to form an appropriate word, usingthe given prompt words, to fill each of the gaps in the twoshort texts. The use of a prefix will be necessary in at leastone of the words in the task.

Part 5 is designed to test awareness and control of featuresof style and appropriateness. The task requires candidates totransfer information given in one text into another. The twotexts are different from each other in terms of register,writer’s purpose and/or style. The grammar and items ofvocabulary given in one text need to be transformed intosuitable expressions in order to complete the second text.The answers must be grammatically accurate as well asstylistically appropriate in terms of both the text’s audienceand the writer’s purpose. Words contained in the first textmay not be used in the second.

Part 6 consists of a text from which a selection ofphrases/short sentences have been removed and placedbelow the text along with several additional phrases.Candidates need to select the appropriate phrase/shortsentence for each gap in the text. This task is devised to testan awareness of discourse features which operate within andacross a text, particularly features of cohesion andcoherence.

To develop their grammatical awareness, candidates willneed plenty of controlled practice. They should also becomefamiliar with grammatical terminology, such as adjective,conjunction, preposition, etc. Knowing grammatical patternsand collocations is as important as knowing the meaning of


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PA P E R 4 L I S T E N I N G

General Description

Paper Format

The paper contains four parts. Each part contains a recordedtext or texts and corresponding comprehension tasks.

Number of Questions

30 - 40.

Text Types

From the following:Monologues: announcements, radio broadcasts, telephonemessages, speeches, talks, lectures.Interacting speakers: announcements, radio broadcasts,telephone messages, interviews, meetings.

Recording Information

The texts in Parts 1, 3 & 4 are heard twice; the text in Part 2is heard once only.

Recordings will contain a variety of accents corresponding tostandard variants of English native speaker accent, and toEnglish non-native speaker accents that approximate to thenorms of native speaker accents.

Background sounds may be included before speaking begins,to provide contextual information. Subdued reaction from anaudience to talks, speeches, etc., may also be included.

Task Types

From the following: note taking, sentence completion,multiple choice, multiple matching.

Task Focus

Understanding specific information, gist, attitude, mainpoints and detail.


For all parts of this paper candidates write their answers onan answer sheet.


Approximately 45 minutes.


Each question in this paper carries one mark.





Task Type and Focus

Sentence completion, note taking

Understanding specificinformation

Sentence completion, note taking

Understanding specificinformation

Sentence completion,multiple choice

Understanding specificinformation, gist andattitude

Multiple matching, multiple choice

Identifying speakers,topics, interpretingcontext, recognisingfunction, attitude





A monologue of approximately 2 minutes, heardtwice, from the following range of text types:announcements, radio broadcasts, telephonemessages, speeches, talks, lectures, etc.

A monologue of approximately 2 minutes, heardonce only, from the range of text types above.There may be prompts from a second speaker.

A conversation between 2 or 3 speakers, ofapproximately 4 minutes, heard twice, from therange of text types above, with the addition ofinterviews and meetings.

A series of five short extracts, of approximately 30seconds each; the whole sequence is heard twice.

In the multiple matching format there are twotasks; the questions require selection of the correctoption from a list of eight. In the multiple choiceformat there are ten questions with two questionsfor each speaker. The questions require selection ofthe correct option from a choice of three.

Number ofQuestions

Task FormatPart


Page 19


In the Listening paper, time is allowed for candidates toprepare for what they are about to hear and it is importantfor students to learn to use this preparation time to readthrough the task. From the task and from the introductoryrubric which contextualises the text, students can try topredict something of the content of the text which they willhear.

While listening, students should learn to focus on the keyword(s) of an answer and to use that information incompleting their answers to gap-fill questions. This will alsohelp them to make more effective use of the time available.After doing a task, it can be useful to go through thetapescript to identify the relationship between the languageof the listening text, the question and the expected answer.

Students will benefit from both extensive and intensivelistening practice: jigsaw listening tasks can provideinteresting communicative purpose for listening, anddictation can provide useful practice in listening for detail.Extensive listening practice should also help students to beconfident that, while not understanding every word ofsomething they hear, they can nevertheless identify moreimportant aspects, e.g., specific information, gist and attitudeof speakers, etc.

In practising productive tasks for the examination, teachersshould encourage their students to limit the length of theiranswers. It is often the case that the more candidates write,the more likely they are to make errors. The length of thebox is designed to cater for a maximum of three words.Moreover, the candidate who writes an unnecessarily longanswer is more likely to make a slip when transferring thatanswer.

It is also important in completing a gap-fill question thatcandidates look carefully at the stem or the wording of thequestion so that their answer fits the stem in every sense andprovides an acceptable completion. Answers which requirecandidates to write down the words exactly in the order thatthey have heard them are unlikely to occur at this level.

Although candidates are never asked to spell words whichfall outside the CAE level, it is important to train students tobe as accurate as possible and to check spelling carefully.

N.B. In the sample paper there is an example of thealternative task for Part 4. Please note that the CAE listeningtest consists of four parts, not five. The inclusion of bothtasks is for information only.


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PA P E R 5 S P E A K I N G

General Description

Paper Format

The paper contains four parts.

The standard format is two candidates and two examiners.

One examiner acts as both Interlocutor and Assessor andmanages the interaction either by asking questions orproviding cues for candidates. The other acts as Assessor anddoes not join in the conversation.

Task Types

Social interaction with the Interlocutor and the othercandidate; transactional long and short turns.

Task Focus

Using transactional, interactional and social language.


Approximately 15 minutes.


Candidates are assessed on their performance throughout thetest.





Task Type and Focus

Three-way conversationbetween the candidates andthe Interlocutor

Using general interactionaland social language

Two-way interaction betweenthe candidates

Using transactional language

Two-way interaction betweenthe candidates

Negotiating andcollaborating; reachingagreement or ‘agreeing todisagree’

Three-way conversationbetween the candidates andthe Interlocutor

Explaining, summarising,developing the discussion

3 minutes

3-4 minutes

3-4 minutes

3-4 minutes

The candidates are asked to respond to one another’squestions about themselves, and respond to theInterlocutor’s questions.

Each candidate in turn is given visual prompts. Theymake comments on the prompts for about one minute;the second candidate responds as specified.

The candidates are given visual and/or writtenprompts to set up a problem-solving task, involvingsequencing, ranking, comparing & contrasting,selecting, etc. Based on this output candidates areasked about their decisions.

The topic area from Part 3 is opened up by discussingwider issues.

Length of Parts

Task FormatPart


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The CAE Speaking Test is designed to offer candidates theopportunity to demonstrate their ability to use their spokenlanguage skills effectively in a range of contexts. The testtakes about 15 minutes for a pair of candidates. Oneexaminer, the Interlocutor, conducts the test and gives aglobal assessment of each candidate’s performance. Theother, the Assessor, does not take any part in the interactionbut focuses solely on listening to, and making an assessmentof, the candidate’s oral proficiency. The test is divided intofour parts and each part sets candidates a different task.

Part 1

This part of the test gives candidates the opportunity to showtheir ability to use general interactional and social language.The Interlocutor introduces both examiners to thecandidates, then candidates ask one another questions aboutthemselves using prompts given by the Interlocutor. TheInterlocutor may ask the candidates further questions aboutthemselves as appropriate. Candidates are expected torespond to their partner’s and to the Interlocutor’s questions,and to listen to what their partner has to say.

Part 2

In this part of the test, each candidate is given theopportunity to speak for a longer period of time (one minute)without interruption. Each candidate is asked to comment onand/or react to a different set of pictures or photographs.Candidates may be asked to describe, compare, contrast,comment, identify, rank, eliminate and hypothesise orspeculate. Tasks may be completely different for eachcandidate or they may be ‘shared’, e.g., when there is agroup of three candidates. Shared tasks set candidates thesame task but each candidate, in turn, receives differentvisual stimuli.

Candidates are expected to listen carefully to the verbalinstructions they are given, show their ability to organisetheir thoughts and ideas, and express themselves coherentlyin appropriate language. Candidates should pay attentionwhile their partner is speaking, as they are asked tocomment briefly (for about 20 seconds) after their partnerhas spoken.

Part 3

In Part 3, candidates are expected to negotiate andcollaborate with each other, discussing a problem-solvingtask fully, openly and clearly. Candidates may be asked todiscuss, evaluate, speculate and/or select. They are given aset of visual prompts on which the task is based. The taskgives candidates the opportunity to show their own range oflanguage and their ability to invite the opinions and ideas oftheir partner. There is no right or wrong answer to this taskbut candidates are asked to reach a conclusion. They can,

however, agree to differ. At the end of this part they areasked to report on the outcome of their discussion.

Part 4

In Part 4, candidates participate in a wider discussion of theissues raised in Part 3. The questions become broader andoften more abstract as the discussion develops. Candidatesmay be asked to respond to the same or different questions.

At the end of the Speaking Test, candidates are thanked forattending, but are given no indication of the level of theirachievement.


It is essential that students are able to participate in pair andgroup activities effectively, showing sensitivity to turn-takingand responding appropriately to their partners. Pair andgroup activities should be a regular feature of classroomlearning.

Students should be given extensive practice in listeningcarefully to instructions and remembering what they areasked to do. They should be encouraged to react to picturesand diagrams, etc., rather than merely describe them, usingspeculative or hypothetical language whenever possible.Students need to be equipped with the right kind oflanguage for, e.g., exchanging information/opinions, givingreasons, speculating, hypothesising, agreeing, disagreeingpolitely justifying and negotiating.

During classroom activities, students should be instructed tospeak clearly so that they can be heard and paraphraseeffectively when they do not know or cannot remember aword. Students should be familiar with the timing and thefocus of each part of the test. They should be able to handlethe whole test confidently, yet ask for clarification/repetitionif needed.

Part 1

Students should be made aware that they are expected toreact naturally to their partners and not rehearse speechesfor this part of the test. They should show sensitivity to eachother’s contributions, invite their partners to participate, andnot dominate the interaction.

Part 2

Give students practice in talking for one minute on a setsubject, or ‘holding the floor’ in a classroom situation so thatthey can organise their thoughts and ideas during this longturn. Make students aware that, in this part of the test, it isessential not to interrupt while their partners are speaking.

Students need to be clear about what is considered aninadequate response, e.g., ‘In the first picture the scene looks


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Grammar and Vocabulary (Accuracy and Appropriacy)

On this scale, candidates are awarded marks for the accurateand appropriate use of syntactic forms and vocabulary inorder to meet the task requirements. At CAE level,candidates are expected to know enough grammar andvocabulary to produce accurate and appropriate languagewithout continual pauses to search for words or structures.

The range and appropriate use of vocabulary are assessedhere. However, it should be noted that only the accuracy ofthe grammar is assessed here as the range of grammaticalstructures is assessed under Discourse Management.

Discourse Management

On this scale, examiners are looking for evidence of thecandidate’s ability to express ideas and opinions in coherent,connected speech.

The CAE tasks require candidates to construct sentences andproduce utterances (extended as appropriate) in order toconvey information and to express or justify opinions. Thecandidate’s ability to maintain a coherent flow of languagewith an appropriate range of linguistic resources over severalutterances is assessed here.

Pronunciation (Individual Sounds and Prosodic Features)

This refers to the candidate’s ability to producecomprehensible utterances to fulfil the CAE taskrequirements, i.e., it refers to the production of individualsounds, the appropriate linking of words, and the use ofstress and intonation to convey the intended meaning.

First language accents are acceptable, providedcommunication is not impeded. It is recognised that at CAElevel, even in the top assessment band, candidates’pronunciation will be influenced by features of their firstlanguage.

Interactive Communication (Turn-taking, Initiating andResponding)

This refers to the candidate’s ability to interact with theInterlocutor and the other candidate by initiating andresponding appropriately and at the required speed andrhythm to fulfil the task requirements. It includes the abilityto use functional language and strategies to maintain orrepair interaction, e.g., in conversational turn-taking, and awillingness to develop the conversation and move the tasktowards a conclusion.

Candidates should be able to maintain the coherence of thediscussion and may, if necessary, ask the Interlocutor or theother candidate for clarification.

modern, in the other it looks old-fashioned’, instead of, e.g.,‘Both pictures of the building portray a calm and peacefulsetting, but the older scene suggests that there was moretraffic on the river at the time, whereas ...’ Students shouldrealise that their responses need to go beyond the level ofpure description and contain a speculative element.Students who listen carefully to their instructions and followthem will do well.

Part 3

For this part of the test, candidates need to be able tointeract and carry out the task while keeping theconversation going. Encourage students to make use ofconversation ‘fillers’, e.g., ‘Well, now, let me see ...’, whichthey can call upon (sparingly) to give themselves time tothink. Expose students to as great a variety of visual stimulias possible and invite their reactions to it. Students shouldattempt to demonstrate their command of a wide range oflinguistic resources and communication strategies. Simplyagreeing or disagreeing with or echoing what their partnerhas said will not enable them to do this. Each student shouldmake a positive contribution to the task in question.Although the completion of the task is not essential, it isadvisable for students to attempt to reach the specifiedoutcome within the time allotted.

Part 4

Students should be encouraged to talk about current eventsand express an opinion about them so that they canparticipate fully in the last part of the test. They are askedquestions by the Interlocutor and they are expected todevelop the discussion, rather than simply give one-wordanswers. Students should be aware that they are not beingassessed on their ideas, but examiners can only assesscandidates on the language they produce and thosecandidates who fail to make a contribution will not do well.At this stage of the test, both candidates and the Interlocutorcan interact more freely. This gives candidates a finalopportunity to show examiners what they are capable of.


Throughout the test, candidates are assessed not in relationto each other but according to the following criteria:Grammar and Vocabulary, Discourse Management,Pronounciation, and Interactive Communication. Thesecriteria should be interpreted within the overall context ofthe Cambridge Common Scale for Speaking (page 53), whereCAE is at Level 4.

Both examiners assess the candidates. The Assessor appliesdetailed, Analytical Scales, the Interlocutor applies a GlobalScale, which is a less detailed scale based on the AnalyticalScales.


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Typical Minimum Adequate Performance

A typical minimum adequate performance at CAE level canbe summarised as follows:

Develops the interaction with contributions which aremostly coherent and extended when dealing with the CAElevel tasks. Grammar is mostly accurate and vocabularyappropriate. Utterances are understood with very littlestrain on the listener.

Candidates are assessed on their own individualperformance according to the established criteria and are notassessed in relation to each other.

Assessment is based on performance in the whole test, and isnot related to performance in particular parts of the test. TheAssessor awards marks for each of the four criteria listedabove. The Interlocutor awards each candidate one globalmark.

After initial training of examiners, standardisation of markingis maintained by both bi-annual examiner co-ordinationsessions and by monitoring visits to centres by Team Leaders.During the co-ordination sessions, examiners watch anddiscuss sample Paper 5 Speaking Tests recorded on video,and then conduct practice tests with volunteer ‘candidates’in order to establish a common standard of assessment.

The sample tests on video are selected to demonstrate arange of task types and different levels of competence, andare pre-marked by a team of experienced examiners.

In many countries, Oral Examiners are assigned to teams,each of which is led by a Team Leader who may beresponsible for approximately fifteen Oral Examiners. TeamLeaders give advice and support to Oral Examiners, asrequired.

The Team Leaders are responsible to a Senior Team Leaderwho is the professional representative of UCLES for the oralexaminations. Senior Team Leaders are appointed by UCLESand attend an annual co-ordination and development sessionin the U.K. Team Leaders are appointed by the Senior TeamLeader in consultation with the local administration.


Page 24

CambridgeMain Suite






Cambridge Common Scale for Speaking

CAMBRIDGE LEVEL 5Fully operational command of the spoken language.Able to handle communication in most situations, including unfamiliar or unexpected ones.Able to use accurate and appropriate linguistic resources to express complex ideas and concepts andproduce extended discourse that is coherent and always easy to follow.Rarely produces inaccuracies and inappropriacies.Pronunciation is easily understood and prosodic features are used effectively; many features, includingpausing and hesitation, are ‘native-like’.

CAMBRIDGE LEVEL 4Good operational command of the spoken language.Able to handle communication in most situations.Able to use accurate and appropriate linguistic resources to express ideas and produce discourse that isgenerally coherent.Occasionally produces inaccuracies and inappropriacies.Maintains a flow of language with only natural hesitation resulting from considerations of appropriacyor expression.L1 accent may be evident but does not affect the clarity of the message.

CAMBRIDGE LEVEL 2 (Threshold)Limited but effective command of the spoken language.Able to handle communication in most familiar situations.Able to construct longer utterances but is not able to use complex language except in well-rehearsedutterances.Has problems searching for language resources to express ideas and concepts resulting in pauses andhesitation.Pronunciation is generally intelligle, but L1 features may put a strain on the listener.Has some ability to compensate for communication difficulties using repair strategies but may requireprompting and assistance by an interlocutor.

CAMBRIDGE LEVEL 1 (Waystage)Basic command of the spoken language.Able to convey basic meaning in very familiar or highly predictable situations.Produces utterances which tend to be very short - words or phrases - with frequent hesitations and pauses.Dependent on rehearsed or formulaic phrases with limited generative capacity.Only able to produce limited extended discourse.Pronunciation is heavily influenced by L1 features and may at times be difficult to understand.Requires prompting and assistance by an interlocutor to prevent communication from breaking down.

Pre-Waystage Level


CAMBRIDGE LEVEL 3Generally effective command of the spoken language.Able to handle communication in familiar situations.Able to organise extended discourse but occasionally produces utterances that lack coherence andsome inaccuracies and inappropriate usage occur.Maintains a flow of language, although hesitation may occur whilst searching for language resources.Although pronunciation is easily understood, L1 features may be intrusive.Does not require major assistance or prompting by an interlocutor.


Page 25



What is the mark allocation for each paper?

Each paper is equally weighted at 40 marks.

An overview of the marks allocation:

Paper 1Parts 1&4 - 1 mark for each correct answerParts 2&3 -2 marks each for each correct answer

Paper 2Each of the 2 questions is marked out of 5

Paper 31 mark for each correct answer

Paper 41 mark for each correct answer

Paper 5Each candidate is assessed out of 30

The total for each paper is weighted to 40, bringing themaximum total to 200. A candidate achieving 60% is likelyto pass the paper.

What is the pass mark?

To pass the examination with Grade C it is necessary toachieve approximately 60% of the total marks available(200).

Must candidates achieve a pass on each paper to passthe examination?

No. Candidates cannot pass or fail any individual paper. Thecandidate’s grade is based on their total score from all fivepapers. There are no ‘hurdles’ or minimum levels ofachievement required.

Can candidates make notes on the question paper?

Yes, but their notes won’t be marked.

Is the use of dictionaries allowed?


How can I get hold of CAE past papers?

CAE past papers, and those for other EFL main suiteexaminations, are published by UCLES after eachadministration of the examination. These can be orderedthrough the UCLES publications department.

Do I need to take a course if I want to take the CAEexamination?

No, it is not necessary, although most candidates take apreparatory course before they take the examination.

PA P E R 1 R E A D I N G

What is the mark allocation?

One mark is given for each correct answer to the multiplematching tasks; two marks are given for each correct answerto the multiple choice and gapped text tasks. The total scoreis then weighted out of a maximum 40 marks for the wholepaper.

As the Paper is 1 hour 15 minutes long, what would bethe recommended timing for each Part?

This very much depends on candidates’ own strengths andpreferred way of working, but it is worth bearing in mindhow the tasks are weighted (see above). Normally 50% ofthe marks are allocated to the two multiple matching tasks(First and Fourth texts) while the other two tasks (multiplechoice and gapped text) account for the remaining 50%.

If candidates make a mistake in filling in their answersheets, is this picked up by the computer?

If they omit a question, the computer accepts the answersheet. If they fill in more than one lozenge for a question,the computer rejects it.

Do questions in the multiple choice task follow theorder of the text?

Yes, with global questions at the end.

What about the danger in Part 2, for example, that if acandidate makes one mistake, this may have a knock-oneffect on at least one other question?

The statistical analysis produced when material is pretestedshows whether candidates are choosing wrong answers, sothis potential problem can be spotted in advance.

PA P E R 2 W R I T I N G

Is each Part worth equal marks?


If candidates do include the address when writing aletter, will they be penalised?

Candidates do not need to include addresses, but they willnot be penalised if they do. Occasionally the instructionsmay ask for addresses.


Page 26

How do you guarantee that the different versions are allequal in difficulty?

For security purposes, there are several versions of theListening Test in use at each session. As for the other papers,the material for the Listening Tests is pretested in advance, inorder to check that it is suitable in terms of content as wellas levels of difficulty. After the examination has been taken,before grading takes place, the Listening Test results areanalysed and the average marks gained by candidates ineach test are compared.

PA P E R 5 S P E A K I N G

Is Part 1 assessed?

The examiners assess performance throughout the wholetest.

Is 2:2 the only possible format?

The standard format is 2:2 and, wherever possible, this willbe the form which the Speaking Test will take. At centreswhere there is an uneven number of candidates, the lastcandidate will form a group of three with the previous pairof candidates. In exceptional circumstances and emergenciesonly a 1:1 format will be allowed.

Are candidates from the same school paired together?

In some centres candidates from the same school are pairedtogether. However, where candidates from a number ofdifferent schools are entered at the same centre, somecandidates may find that they are paired with a candidatefrom another school. Candidates should check with thecentre through which they are entering for the localprocedure.

Does knowing your partner make it easier or harder todo well?

There is no evidence to suggest that candidates performbetter when examined with someone they know or viceversa. Some candidates feel relaxed and confident whenpaired with someone they know, others may feel inhibited.In both cases, the examiners are trained to provide equalopportunities for all candidates to perform to the best of theirability.

Does it matter if a candidate uses slang or speaks with aregional accent?

The use of slang is acceptable provided that it is appropriate.Regional accents are also acceptable so long as they areused consistently.

Should candidates write their answers in pen or pencil?

Pen should always be used, as answers in pencil may notalways be legible.

PA P E R 3 E N G L I S H I N U S E

What is the mark allocation overall?

There is one mark for each question.

If candidates write two possible answers to a question,how are they marked?

If both are correct, the candidate is awarded the mark(s); ifone is incorrect, no marks are awarded. (This is also thesame for Paper 4.)

What if the answer is right, but a candidate has mis-spelt it?

All spellings must be correct in Paper 3.

How should answers for the ‘punctuation/spelling’ typetask in Part 3 be recorded?

The correct spelling of the incorrect word, or thepunctuation mark together with the word which precedes orfollows it, should be written on the answer sheet.

In Part 5, can a cognate of one of the words used in thefirst text be used in the answer?

No. This task requires candidates to find a new way ofexpressing the information from the first text.

What happens if a candidate writes more than twowords as an answer in Part 5?

No marks will be awarded for an answer of more than twowords.

PA P E R 4 L I S T E N I N G

Is there any background noise on the tape?

Sound effects may be used to ‘set the scene’, but are notused while there is speech. Very subdued audience reactionmay be heard when a speaker is giving a talk, but this isnever intrusive.

Does spelling have to be correct?

Common words and those which are easy to spell areexpected to be correct.


Page 27

May candidates interrupt or ask questions during theirpartner’s ‘long turn’ in Part 2?

No. Listening candidates should allow their partner to speakwithout interruption in this part of the test.

What about the mis-matching of candidates, e.g., a shyperson with an extrovert?

Examiners are trained to deal with this kind of situation andensure no-one is disadvantaged. Everyone has the chance toshow what they can do. However, candidates mustremember that while it is important not to dominate aweaker candidate, it is vital that they make the best use ofthe time available to show off their language skills.

E N T R I E S & R E S U LT S

What is the date of the CAE examination?

The CAE examination can be taken twice a year, in June andin December. The dates are published in the ExaminationRegulations. Check with your UCLES Local Secretary orBritish Council Office.

Where can candidates enrol?

The UCLES Local Secretary or British Council Office cangive you information about centres where the examination istaken. You do not need to apply to UCLES directly. Fees arepayable to the local centre, and will vary slightly from placeto place.

How do I get my results?

Results are issued to Local Secretaries approximately sixweeks after the examination has been taken. Certificates areissued about a month after that.