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Cambridge English: Proficiency Test (CPE)

cambridge CPE1

The Cambridge English: Proficiency exam, also known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), is an examination that gauges English abilities. It is the highest general English exam provided by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. The standard level of English in the test equals that of a fairly educated native speaker of English. There are over 2,700 centres all over the world that hold CPE exams at scheduled dates. The cost of the exam is subject to the format in which the exam is taken by a given student and the particular centre they are using to give the exam.

Who is the exam for?

While the test can be taken by anyone, it is especially beneficial for students looking to pursue their higher education from educational institutions in native English speaking countries. The certification from the CPE is accepted at many universities worldwide. The certificate guarantees that the holder has a good command over the language. This can be quite beneficial in securing admissions in foreign colleges and universities. This test can also affect visa applications and immigration to English speaking nations where you may have to prove your language ability. Having a good CPE score could boost your chances of being granted a visa, whether that is for work, study or leisure. For professionals looking to develop a career abroad, particularly in fields where communication is important, CPE can be very helpful is securing jobs and progressing therein.

CPE Exam format

The examination itself is divided into four parts. They are:

    • Reading and Use of English

This is by far the largest segment of the paper and comprises 53 questions. This segment is divided into seven parts, which in total hold 40 percent weightage of the total marks. The time allotted to this segment is one hour and 30 minutes. The purpose of this segment is to showcase your ability and level of ease in engaging with different kinds of texts including fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, journals and manuals. Your ability to comprehend the text at different levels is examined here.

    • Writing

Writing is the second largest segment of the paper and comprises two parts that cumulatively hold 20 percent weightage of the total marks. The time allotted to this segment is also one hour and 30 minutes. This segment will assess your ability to write a number of items like essays reviews, summaries, reports and so forth.

    • Listening

This segment contains 30 questions divided into four parts which, are worth 20 per cent of the total marks. The time allotted to this part is 40 minutes. This segment will assess your ability to understand a variety of audio or spoken inputs like lectures, speeches, interviews or discussions.

    • Speaking

This segment has three parts and is worth 20 percent of the total marks. You will be interacting with another candidate, where you will be allotted 16 minutes to showcase your communication ability in English.

CPE Exam dates 2017-18

CPE can be given on paper or online. The following table provides the dates at which the examinations are slated to be held. Your specific centre shall inform you of the date for your speaking ability test.





30 Thursday18 Saturday


2 Saturday 







10 Saturday





6 Saturday

12 Saturday


8 Thursday14 Thursday















CPE Application process

In order to apply for the CPE test you need to find the certified centre closest to you and register there. You can decide when you will take the test, as examination dates are available throughout the year. An online examination format has been introduced in this year (2013), and students registering for the exam this year will be able to give the computer-based exam. The fee for Indian students applying for this exam is Rs. 6700.  Click here to download the CPE application form.

CPE Preparation tips

    • Familiarize yourself with the words that are most often used in verbal and written communication in English. Read as much as you can. Books, newspapers and magazines are a good source for finding new words and phrases.
    • Watch movies, listen to music, debates and discussions in English. These can increase your comfort with the language.
    • Be proficient in grammar and understand the reason behind the use of every word and its use in sentence structure.
    • Know the formats of essays, reports, letters and reviews. Practice writing them on a regular basis.
    • Listen and speak carefully. Do not attempt to diversify your vocabulary or use flowery language unnecessarily. Never use a word without knowing its meaning clearly. Remember that communication is meant to inform others of ideas and thoughts.


Students in India, planning to appear for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) can get more details from:

British Council New Delhi
British Council Division
British High Commission
17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi – 110 001

Phone: 18001024353
Fax: +91 11 2371 0717
Email: [email protected]


“Cambridge English: Proficiency,” Cambridge English Language Assessment,

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