The Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exams are a set of globally recognised proficiency assessments valued by employers, universities, and colleges the world over. The First Certificate in English (FCE), Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) are three computer or paper-based exams which you can take on your journey towards academic and professional success, but what exactly does each qualification mean? What’s the difference? Well, let’s find out!
As its name suggests, the First Certificate in English is the first Cambridge ESOL exam you can take to show that you have the language skills required to live and work independently in an English-speaking country, or to follow a university course taught in English. The exam lasts about 3.5 hours and is made up of 4 sections – Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking respectively.
CEFR level: B2
The Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is accepted by over 6,000 educational institutions all around the world, showing proof that you have a high level of achievement in the English language. Successfully completing this exam means that you can communicate with confidence in English, be it for academic or professional purposes. This exam is also made up of 4 sections (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking), but takes around 4 hours to complete.
CEFR level: C1
The Certificate of Proficiency in English shows that you have really mastered the language to a very high level, with the fluency of a native speaker. Successfully completing the CPE exam means that you have the level of English required to study or work in a very senior position professionally or at a high level of academic study (e.g. postgraduate or doctorate level). This exam is also around 4 hours long, and consists of 4 sections, each one covering a core skill (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking).
CEFR level: C2