WHAT IS THE CERTIFICATE OF PROFICIENCY IN ENGLISH?
The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is a high level examination for learners of English. It is taken by around sixty thousand people every year, in more than seventy countries.
CPE is the fifth, and highest, level of the Cambridge Main Suite examinations. At this stage, learners are approaching a standard of English similar to that of an educated native speaker, and they can be expected to cope in nearly all situations in an English speaking environment.
As with all Cambridge English examinations, CPE covers the four main language skills - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - as well as knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, and assesses learners' ability to communicate in English in real situations.
CPE is accepted by almost all universities and colleges in Britain and many others throughout the world, as proof that the learner has reached a level of English suitable for entry to courses of higher education or post-graduate study. Many employers also recognize CPE -they can be sure that an employee with this level of English will be able to cope linguistically in most situations, and use the language in culturally appropriate ways.
CPE has five papers - Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Use of English. Each paper contributes 20% of the final mark.
- Reading (Paper 1) 1 hour 30 minutes.
The Reading paper assesses candidates' ability to read and understand texts taken from a wide range of sources, including fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines. Candidates are expected to understand the meaning of written English at word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and whole text level. It includes understanding of text content, organisation and structure and the development of ideas, opinions and attitudes.
- Writing (Paper 2) 1 hour 30 minutes.
The Writing paper assesses candidates' ability to write non-specialised texts types such as letters, articles, reports and reviews for a given purpose and target reader, covering a wide range of topics. The paper also includes questions on set texts. The set texts are novels that you must read in advance, and then answer one question about them. There is a list with the set texts for each year at Cambridge ESOL web.
- Use of English (Paper 3) 1 hour 30 minutes.
In the Use of English paper, candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and control of the language system by completing various tasks at word, sentence and text level. These include gap-filling and word formation exercises, comprehension questions and a summary writing task.
- Listening (Paper 4) 40 minutes (approx.).
The Listening paper assesses the ability to listen to and understand texts taken from a variety of text types including interviews, discussions, lectures and conversations. It tests the ability to understand the meaning of spoken English, to extract information from a spoken text and to understand speakers' attitudes and opinions.
- Speaking (Paper 5) 19 minutes (approx).
The Speaking Test assesses candidates' ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts. The paper contains three parts, which take the form of an interview section, a collaborative task and individual long-turns with follow-up discussion. Candidates are provided with picture and written hints. Candidates normally take the Speaking Test in pairs.
Exam dates are in June and December each year. CPE can only be taken at Cambridge official testing centers. There are more than 2,400 authorized centers in more than 130 countries.
In order to enroll for the test, candidates must contact the authorized test center at least 10 weeks in advance. It is no possible to register through UCLES.
MARKING AND RESULTS INFORMATION
Once the examination finished, all exams scripts are sent back to Cambridge for marking. The examiners are specialists in the teaching of the English language with years of relevant experience in the proper level. While marking the tests, the examiners, who have previously been trained, are guided and supervised by examiners of greater seniority who are highly experienced.
There are five possible grades for CPE:
• A, B, C (Passing grade)
• D, E (failed)
Five or six weeks after the test, all candidates get an Exam Report that reflects their total results and a chart showing the performance of the candidates in each of the tests
The Certificates for candidates who pass the test successfully will be available approximately 10 weeks after the test.
QUALITY AND FAIRNESS
Cambridge EFL tests (English as a Foreign language) enjoy great respect and recognition at international level and enormous effort goes into ensuring both its validity as its reliability. Each KET test takes approximately three years to produce. Before any task or questions are included in an actual examination, they are trialled on students at a suitable level in a process that is called "pretesting". This guarantees that the level of difficulty of all the examination material is the right one and it's not biased towards people from particular cultural or educational ethnic backgrounds at the expense of others. Only when all the material has been checked and UCLES is certain that it meets the correct standard is it used in actual question papers.
UCLES works with thousands of highly trained examiners to write and mark the examination papers, and carry out speaking tests. The examiners work in teams, led by very experienced examiners, who co-ordinate the work to ensure that standards remain consistent.
Before a school or other institution can become an approved Cambridge EFL center it has to meet rigorous selection criteria. Centers operate according to clearly defined regulations by UCLES that carries out regular center inspections to ensure that standards are maintained
The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) was founded in 1858, and today it is a world leader in the provision of educational assessment services.
UCLES began to organize English tests as a foreign language in 1913 and nowadays offers a wide range of tests and services that include specialized tests in business English, English for Academic Purposes, English for Children as well as diplomas and certificates for teachers of the English language.
Each year, more than 700,000 people take the English Cambridge Exams.
The members of the "Association of Language Testers in Europe" (ALTE) have worked together to develop a five-level scale that can be used as a guide for the development and description of language examinations across Europe. All Cambridge EFL examinations are now developed and revised using this scale as a guide, whether they are general English examinations or specialized English examinations, such as the Business English Certificates. This means that Cambridge certificate holders can compare their level of English with the other Cambridge EFL examinations and also with many other European language examinations.
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