The CAE exam has 5 modules or papers. The objective of these papers is to assess the overall ability of a candidate on all 4 key skills such as Listening, Writing, Reading and Speaking. However, recognizing the importance of Grammar and Vocabulary, the CAE exam has an additional paper called “Use of English”, which is designed to assess and provide scores to candidates on their knowledge of grammar and their knowledge of vocabulary.

The table below provides an at-a-glace view of each module, the broad content and the duration of the exam.

Module / Paper


Time duration


34 questions over 4 sections

A variety of text types are used including articles from newspapers, magazines, journals, extracts from books (fiction and non-fiction), promotional and informational materials.

The types of tasks used include multiple choice, matching and a gapped text task where candidates read a text from which six paragraphs have been removed and placed in a jumbled order.

1 hr. 15 mins.


2 Tasks

  • Task 1 compulsory - Candidates write an article, a report, a proposal, or a letter based on material of up to 150 words.
  • Task 2 choice based - Candidates must complete one task from a choice of five. Two of the five questions are based on set reading texts.

1 hr. 30 mins.

Use of English

50 questions over 5 parts.

The test uses a variety of tasks: multiple choice, gap-fill, word formation, key word transformation and gapped sentences. Requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammatical structures.

1 hr.


30 questions over 4 sections.

The questions include multiple choices, sentence completion and multiple matching. Candidates must answer questions after listening to either short monologues or interacting speakers.

40 mins.


The Speaking test uses a paired format where two candidates are assessed by two trained Cambridge ESOL examiners.

One examiner acts as an ‘interlocutor’ and conducts the test, while the second examiner acts as an assessor and does not join in the conversation.

The Speaking test requires candidates to carry out a range of speaking tasks:

  • Each candidate has a short conversation with the interlocutor about themselves and subjects from daily life.
  • Each candidate then has a 1-minute turn where they are asked to make comparisons, express opinions, describe and speculate about visual stimuli.
  • Both candidates are asked to engage in conversation together while completing a collaborative task. They must then engage with the interlocutor in a wider discussion about the completed task.

15 mins

Cambridge English: Advanced also known as Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)
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