Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE)

The Cambridge C1 Advanced Exam, previously known as CAE, is the next to last exam in the Cambridge English exam suite. This exam is commonly accepted by universities in the UK for advanced study programs.

Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the C1 Advanced is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The CAE exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In either case, it lasts 235 minutes in total.

Exam structure

The Cambridge C1 Advanced exam tests all four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is structured as follows:

Part 1 (90 minutes) – The first section of the C1 Advanced tests reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This part has a total of 56 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions divided into 8 subsections. There are about 3,500 words in total to read during this part of the CAE, and all text is drawn from newspapers, magazines, textbooks, advertisements, or other authentic English writing.

Part 2 (90 minutes) – The second part of the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam tests writing ability. There are two prompts of equal length (about 250 words to write). The first prompt is an essay stating your opinion about something. The second prompt you can choose between several options to respond to the information provided.

Part 3 (40 minutes) – The third section of the CAE test is listening comprehension. You listen to radio, television, or other types of native English speech and answer questions about what you heard. Each recording is played two times. There is a total of 30 questions in this part divided into 4 subsections.

Part 4 (15 minutes) – The last section of the C1 Advanced tests English speaking ability. Students take this part of the test in pairs, and may be asked to come back to the test center on a different day for this part, depending on the test center. The speaking test is in four short parts: the first two you speak on your own and with the examiner, and the second two you speak with the other candidate. There is a second examiner in the room who takes notes but does not participate in the interview.


From 2016, all Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale. Lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Valid scores on the CAE Exam range from 160 to 210. A score of 180 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the Cambridge C1 Advanced certificate, which corresponds to a level C1 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 200 or above on the C1 Advanced will receive a Cambridge English certificate for level C2. Students scoring between 160 and 179 will receive a B2 English certificate.

The test below the CAE in the Cambridge exam suite is called the Cambridge B2 First Certificate and the test above is called the C2 Proficiency. In order to decide which Cambridge exam is right for your level, you can take the free Cambridge placement test online.