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  #21  
Old 04.01.2017, 16:44
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Out of curiosity, what's the practical usefulness of a CPE? Attending an English-speaking university?

I had to do the TOEFL to study in the USA and previously had done the TOEIC because an employer asked for it, but other than that nobody has ever asked me about any English certification.
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  #22  
Old 04.01.2017, 17:14
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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I had to do the TOEFL to study in the USA and previously had done the TOEIC because an employer asked for it, but other than that nobody has ever asked me about any English certification.
I had a similar experience with U.S. universities. Even holding the CPE, the U.S. universities I applied to (including the one I ultimately chose to attend for grad school) still required that I take the TOEFL. I wanted to laugh at them, to be honest.

Needless to say, the TOEFL with 0 preparation was a walk in the park (for me) compared to the CPE

As for usefulness, I think that, when it was established, the CPE was meant to give people a credential/ proof of their knowledge of the English language for teaching it in foreign schools. Now, with varying requirements and teaching credentials, I am not sure it would still be sufficient.

I did it back in the day because my mom, who has it also, insisted I do it. I think she was secretly hoping I'd forget all that "USA nonsense" and, following in her footsteps, settle for a few years in the UK instead. Little did she know I had already hopelessly fallen in a lifelong love with the USA!
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  #23  
Old 04.01.2017, 18:04
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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Out of curiosity, what's the practical usefulness of a CPE? Attending an English-speaking university?
Minimum CAE is required to teach English in primary school here as part of the BA in Primary Education, which I am working on (or CPE for SEK 1 Education). I only did it to satisfy the college's need for paperwork.
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  #24  
Old 04.01.2017, 18:33
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I took the CAE first after spending a few months in the US to study English. The CPE followed three years later.

I found the difference between CAE and CPE to be massive. I honestly didn't understand about half the exam and I'm still amazed that I passed at all (only with a C though ). Granted, I was 23 at the time, had never lived abroad, had not attended a prep course and most of my English skills were (and are) self-taught, though over years, well decades, really.

It's impossible to say which one you should go for. Granted "living in London" doesn't necessarily say much about your English skills - this forum is a prime example of people who "live abroad" yet don't speak the local language at all, and certainly not to C2 level I find most people very much underestimate what it takes to be on a near-native level in a foreign language. It also doesn't take much to forget a language if you don't practice it regularly or with the same intensity as before.

Well try the CPE, if you fail go for the CAE...

TOEFL is a joke compared to the CPE.
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  #25  
Old 04.01.2017, 21:59
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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Minimum CAE is required to teach English in primary school here as part of the BA in Primary Education, which I am working on (or CPE for SEK 1 Education). I only did it to satisfy the college's need for paperwork.

CPE is required for Gymnase teaching (Sec.2), but B2 level, so CAE, is enough for sec.1, at least in our parts.
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  #26  
Old 05.01.2017, 16:44
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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Out of curiosity, what's the practical usefulness of a CPE? Attending an English-speaking university?
To be honest, here it is mostly about granting the Office for Vocational Training the satisfaction of required paperwork.
I actually graduated from university in London back in 2012, but it is not accepted as sufficient proof that my language skills exceed B1 level...

And I've thought, since you need a certificate for literally everything in Switzerland, I might as well get it done.

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I find most people very much underestimate what it takes to be on a near-native level in a foreign language. It also doesn't take much to forget a language if you don't practice it regularly or with the same intensity as before.
I definitely agree with you.
On one hand, my passive skills are quite good, I have no issues understanding a variety of accents or slangs, idioms, more finely tuned jokes and I read scientific or academic papers or books on a regular base.
Plus, I think "near-native" level includes being a bit more playful with a language, knowing what it means to grow up with it (for example: children's songs, poems, literature).

However, my active skills have most likely declined, especially the writing. I can talk fluently about almost anything - given the knowledge about the subject of course - but I am not sure if the quality is sufficient. But I will see to that.
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Old 05.01.2017, 17:30
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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To be honest, here it is mostly about granting the Office for Vocational Training the satisfaction of required paperwork.
I actually graduated from university in London back in 2012, but it is not accepted as sufficient proof that my language skills exceed B1 level...

And I've thought, since you need a certificate for literally everything in Switzerland, I might as well get it done.



I definitely agree with you.
On one hand, my passive skills are quite good, I have no issues understanding a variety of accents or slangs, idioms, more finely tuned jokes and I read scientific or academic papers or books on a regular base.
Plus, I think "near-native" level includes being a bit more playful with a language, knowing what it means to grow up with it (for example: children's songs, poems, literature).

However, my active skills have most likely declined, especially the writing. I can talk fluently about almost anything - given the knowledge about the subject of course - but I am not sure if the quality is sufficient. But I will see to that.
I think you'll do well. Gut feeling

I have that past paper etc. PM me if you'd like it.
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  #28  
Old 06.01.2017, 14:18
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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I definitely agree with you.
On one hand, my passive skills are quite good, I have no issues understanding a variety of accents or slangs, idioms, more finely tuned jokes and I read scientific or academic papers or books on a regular base.
Plus, I think "near-native" level includes being a bit more playful with a language, knowing what it means to grow up with it (for example: children's songs, poems, literature).

However, my active skills have most likely declined, especially the writing. I can talk fluently about almost anything - given the knowledge about the subject of course - but I am not sure if the quality is sufficient. But I will see to that.
Spend some time on (very) advanced grammar/use of English and especially writing. Familiarize yourself with the different types of writing samples they may ask for (articles, essays, reviews, reports etc). The speaking part makes up 15mins - well friends of mine had to talk about nuclear science or something , but often it's a piece of cake. The other parts are more challenging imo. Listening is ok most of the time, though they sometimes throw in pieces in nasty dialects

You should definitely look at past papers. This book I found quite useful at the time: https://www.amazon.de/Cambridge-Cert...rds=cpe+papers I'm sure upgraded versions are available (gosh I'm old).
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  #29  
Old 06.01.2017, 20:03
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Thank you for your recommendation!

I already have Objective Proficiency and another one for C1/C2 level, but I look into that book too.
The reading samples are a very good point, thanks!
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  #30  
Old 06.01.2017, 23:37
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Hi,
Except for some special language certifications, in European countries the standard for the "tested" proficiency in a European language is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common..._for_Languages which defines six levels: A1 to C2.

The exams from the University of Cambridge have been there for years, and for branding/marketing reasons have kept their names for decades (FCE, CAE, CPE...).
The results of the CPE (I took it in 2013 in Bern) were at that time (I am checking my certificate right now) scales like this (quoted from certification):

The Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is a general proficiency examination at Level C2 in the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference. It is at Level 3 in the UK National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Results: Score
Pass at Grade A: 80 to 100
Pass at Grade B: 75 to 79
Pass at Grade C: 60 to 74
Level C1: 45 to 59
Fail: 0 to 44


Which means, that passing the test will give you an equivalent C2 certification, but failing under the 45-59 score bracket will give you the C1 certification, which is what you can achieve with a perfect score on the Certificate of Advanced English (CAE).
So if your level is good for CAE I suggest you apply and prepare for the CPE.

On a practical level, I suggest that you practice your writing skills, because the topics for the small essays are sometimes quite funny. Having practiced it helps a lot. That part is more about the style than about the ideas behind. The rest can be practiced with available tests.
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  #31  
Old 07.01.2017, 02:18
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Maybe I'm a little late to the party, but here's my take on OP's original answer.

I passed the CAE and CPE about 12 years ago (one year apart), and the Goethe B1 last year. My experience was the same for all three exams:

Study and train for the exam, not the language.

Knowing exactly what to expect from the exam and having no surprises is at least half the battle. What questions will be asked, what answers are expected, how much time to spend in each section...

CPE and CAE felt very similar in their structure (not sure how it is today), except that CPE was much longer and had slightly more challenging vocabulary and the texts and dialogs were a lot more nuanced. The answers weren't always obvious.

This mental exhaustion alone might be the difference between passing and failing, even if you're at native level. At least they take about the same time now, if I remember correctly back then the CPE was longer than the CAE

My advice would be to do a mock CAE and a mock CPE exam, and see how you do in each. If you really need the exam and CPE made you feel unsure, go for CAE. (Other have mentioned that failing the CPE can still give you the CAE if you have a good enough score, but I don't have experience with that. If it really is like that, it might be a good option as well.)

Also, if you can't do a prep course I strongly recommend having at least a couple of classes with someone who knows the exam. This will allow you to practice the writing and speaking parts, which you can't really do on your own. Maybe you can find something affordable in italki or Lingoda.

Even if you were an English native you'd probably not know all the details about the correct/expected structure of e.g. a leaflet - and that means lost points.

Best of luck!

Edited to add: this might seem obvious but it's easy to forget - train for the exam under the same conditions you'll have when you take it!

That means the obvious things like timing yourself and not using a dictionary, but also training for the writing section with pen and paper if the exam isn't computer-based. I made the mistake of training for the Goethe exam on the computer, which meant that I didn't know how to manage the time when taking the actual exam... "Do I have time to write a draft first? Should I write in the exam sheet directly? *gasp*"

Had I written by hand while preparing, I'd have saved some time and stress. (Thankfully it ended up not being a problem for me, but it's easy for small stuff like this to lead to a mental freeze... :/)

Last edited by tastystrudel; 07.01.2017 at 02:59.
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  #32  
Old 31.01.2017, 12:08
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

just adding my two cents - I did the whole sequence of exams as a student - First Certificate, CAE and CPE. There was a large difference between CAE and CPE, and took me a couple of years of after work classes to go from one level to the other.
Eventually, the CPE was helpful to find a role at a bank in London, and also to enroll in a MsC course there.

I echo the comments about practising in exam-like conditions - i.e. a mock exam. This is the only way to know how prepared you are.
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  #33  
Old 16.03.2017, 15:41
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Hi everybody!

I just wanted to let you know that I took the exam on the 11th March and it feels alright, so I am allowing myself to be slightly positive.

Like you all suggested, I did some mock tests. On average, I achieved 70 points out of 80 for the Use of English and Reading part and something between 35 out of 40 for the Listening. Furthermore, I wrote some sample essays and had someone who has experience with those language examinations go over them. Most of the time she said I should be sufficient, but it is definitely my weak point.

Luckily I had a good partner for the Speaking part who was also aware that we were being marked on 'communication management and interaction skills', so I think we showed good conversational skills and even made the examiners laugh two times.

In the end, I did not have a particularly worse impression after the actual exam, but I won't know the results until mid-April anway.

However, Cambridge actually misprinted the answer sheet for the Reading part! They left out an option F - and I swear one answer required that option being ticked off! So I simply let a staff member know and they said to add it by hand. I did and wasn't bothered by it anymore.

Yesterday though, we received an email that they will ignore that specific answer alltogether and we will all have Special Consideration applied for the confusion it might have caused. Hopefully, that will help me a little more.

So now it's the waiting game... If you're interested, I'll let you know how it went.

Have a sunny end of the week!
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  #34  
Old 07.04.2017, 16:27
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Hi everyone!

This is my last post about it: I have just received my result:

Grade A (224 points out of 230)!

I'm very happy and want to thank you for your encouragement and advice. It was definitely the right decision to shoot for the highest possible goal.

If anyone has any questions regarding the CPE, I am content to help.

Wish you all a lovely Easter!
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