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Old 03.01.2017, 15:49
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English: CAE or CPE?

Hi there!

Due to extern circumstances, I will be trying for a Cambridge language certificate in March. But I really can't decide for which level I should apply to.

I lived in London from 2009 to 2012. Now I am living in Switzerland and I try to maintain my English skills as much as possible, but it is obviously not the same.

I have been watching a few Youtube videos and read about the exam, but I am really unsure if I should try for the CPE - with a risk of failing - or take the safer route and apply for the CAE?

What are your thoughts about it? I would really appreciate some input.

Thank you and a happy new year!

Henry (f)
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Old 03.01.2017, 16:25
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Take both.
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Old 03.01.2017, 16:49
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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Take both.
Hi! Thank you for your reply.
Unfortunately both are financially not possible...
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Old 03.01.2017, 16:52
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

My OH has signed up to do the CAE in March. If you pay a small additional amount (I think 30 CHF) when you pay to take the exam, if you fail they will let you re-take the exam one time without having to pay again. They probably have this option for CPE as well.

From your written English it looks like you could be able to do CPE but if you have been looking at the past exams you should get a reasonable idea about which one you think you would have the best shot at.

Good luck!
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Old 03.01.2017, 18:46
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I had to make the same decision last year and opted for the CPE. Check the Cambridge exam website and try the exam questions on it. See how you do. I was told, that when you do CPE and do not pass, you will get a certificate showing CAE level as long as you are within that range. Don't know if it's true, as I passed CPE.
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Old 03.01.2017, 19:43
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I hold a Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) which I obtained several years ago, and as far as I can remember, it was very tough. Unless they've changed the format, it had several written and oral portions over several days.

I passed it at the first shot, and here are a couple of things that I learned and were useful/relevant to me - YMMV:

1. I took the exam a couple of months after coming back from a 1-year foreign exchange program in the USA, so my English was pretty fresh. I imagined that, being the Cambridge exam, it would be focused on British English and yet, I grossly underestimated just how much the exam was British-English heavy, including idiomatic expressions that I was not at all familiar with, etc. That was a significant challenge for me.

2. I did a focused, intensive CPE prep course and it was money very well spent. The course was not an English course, rather, a course to get familiar with the exam format, do sample exams, etc.

If I had limited money (like I did), I'd focus on the CPE + prep course.

Good luck!

Last edited by BokerTov; 03.01.2017 at 21:37. Reason: Corrected per Belgianmum - thank you!
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Old 03.01.2017, 20:24
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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I hold a Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) since several years,* and as far as I can remember, it was very tough. Unless they've changed the format, it had several written and oral portions over several days.

I passed it at the first shot, and here are a couple of things that I learned and were useful/relevant to me - YMMV:

!
The exam has four parts and follows the same format as the majority of foreign language exams.

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exam...y/exam-format/

It is very much geared towards British English and idiomatic expressions so a prep course would be a good idea. It is a tough exam but the OP seems to have a very good level of English so I would encourage him to give it a go.

*It's probably been a while since you did the exam but the bit in bold is not grammatically correct.
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Old 03.01.2017, 20:49
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

There are a few websites that offer CPE practice. I'd google CPE exam and do the reading part to see how well you do.

I'd also recommend taking a preparation course for CPE in order to fully understand what is needed in the writing part. They ask for specific forms of writing that you may not be familiar with.
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Old 03.01.2017, 21:29
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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Hi there!

Due to extern circumstances, I will be trying for a Cambridge language certificate in March. But I really can't decide for which level I should apply to.

I lived in London from 2009 to 2012. Now I am living in Switzerland and I try to maintain my English skills as much as possible, but it is obviously not the same.

I have been watching a few Youtube videos and read about the exam, but I am really unsure if I should try for the CPE - with a risk of failing - or take the safer route and apply for the CAE?

What are your thoughts about it? I would really appreciate some input.

Thank you and a happy new year!

Henry (f)
CPE, without a doubt. Always aim for the highest possible level.

Buy the books, practice with a few mock exams. The same idiomatic expressions and grammar points come again and again at each session. With proper and specific training you can ace these exams. I should know, I passed both
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Old 03.01.2017, 21:35
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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It's probably been a while since you did the exam but the bit in bold is not grammatically correct.
Haha, you are absolutely right, thank you for the correction!

I've just spent two weeks speaking Italian and Spanish, and apparently it shows

Also, speaking six languages fluently sometimes plays tricks on the brain!
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Old 03.01.2017, 21:37
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Cpe.
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Old 03.01.2017, 21:57
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts!

To clarify few things up:

1) Unfortunately I won't be able to attend a prep course, as they are rarely held for the CPE and none I know of for the next CPE.

2) I would like to take the CPE in March because I am currently studying besides work and it will be an exam-free period. So I don't run the risk of having to choose between two exams to attend.

3) However, I have bought two books to prepare for the exam and I am waiting to hear back from an English teacher who will be evaluating my writing style, correct the essays from a mock exam and, ideally, judge my English speaking skills too.

I have less problems understanding the level of English used in the mock exams and more understanding the actual questions. So I definitely have to study the exam as well as the language. :-)

The tests I did online did place me at the C2, but obviously there's a difference between twenty minutes online and hours focusing on a paper.

But I think I will be brave and fill in the application form for the C2 level!

Thank you all!
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Old 03.01.2017, 22:05
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

Hi Henry

Take the CPE. As others have said, your English is of a high standard.

As with a lot of exams, it's the phrasing of the questions that may bite you! Past papers are the way forward, and get hold of a mark scheme if you can. I've got a friend who I think preps pupils for this, I'll see what I can get resource-wise.
Best
Rufus
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Old 03.01.2017, 23:03
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I did CPE after a year in NY. Since I had picked up my English on the street, from reading voraciously and using it to communicate and act at school. I thought I would not be fit to take the test right away when I returned. Largely because I had no real idea about grammatical issues.

Back in CH, I did a preparatory class - half a year - at Migros Klubschule. It turned out that my grammar was instinctively right, I just had to get a name to what I was already doing right. Class was fun, great brit teacher - I passed with flying colors and grade A.

I thought it was easy-peasy. I guess I could have done it before, but maybe not with an A.

Last edited by marischi; 03.01.2017 at 23:16.
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Old 03.01.2017, 23:06
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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I did CPE after a year in NY. Since I had picked up my English largely on the street, from reading and using it at school - it was no language school though. Back in CH, I did a preparatory class at Migros Klubschule and passed with flying colors and grade A.
I thought it was easy-peasy.

I hope the OP has a similarly positive experience - it's definitely worth prepping for the timings however, it's tight, even for a proficient native user. IMO.

OP - have you looked at the Cambridge site and pulled off all the resources on there? It will be a good start/additional set of practice stuff. There appears to be quite a bit on there.
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Old 03.01.2017, 23:26
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I have to say that I'm picking up languages quite quickly and get the accents right fast - it maybe helps that I'm also a trained musician.
And I really didn't think it was hard. I even enjoyed it!
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Old 03.01.2017, 23:39
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

You can be a native speaker and still fail your CPE... for such an exam, you have to understand what they expect, in terms of writing production, interactive skills for the oral part, idiomatic expressions for the use of English.

In my opinion, the CPE tests more your ability to adequately prepare for an exam situation than your real ability to use the language in an everyday context
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Old 04.01.2017, 11:28
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

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In my opinion, the CPE tests more your ability to adequately prepare for an exam situation than your real ability to use the language in an everyday context
This is my opinion of all the Cambridge certificate exams to be honest. You have to be able to do everything and answer the questions in exactly the way they expect you to which is why spending a lot of time looking at past papers and sample answers is useful.
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Old 04.01.2017, 15:51
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

So, I have just registered for the CPE. No risk, no fun, I guess?

I also agree on the point of view that learning the requirements of the exam itself is equally important; I am currently studying again and it's simply not enough to know your subject, you also need to have a good idea on how that knowledge should be applied.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts! It helped me quite a bit to finally make the decision.
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Old 04.01.2017, 16:38
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Re: English: CAE or CPE?

I took the exam without much preparation other than doing a couple of practice exams. I found the use of English parts easy, I practiced those parts that I struggled with most. The oral part was not difficult either, in preparation I watched some videos and looked at the examiner notes on those exams, which are all available online as examples. This really helped, as I knew what was expected. The essay was not hard, but you need to know how to write different types of essays, letters, etc, once you have the structure right, the rest is easy. There was one part in the reading that I found tricky, where you had to put text pieces into the right order. The text made sense to me in a few different ways. The other part I found rather difficult was the 2nd part of the listening exam, where you had a variety of of muliple choice answers. I kind of guessed at some of those answers, but since I aced the other part of the listening exam, it didn't matter so much. I ended up passing with an A Grade.
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