An internationally acknowledged degree is a prized accomplishment for a student in this rapidly expanding educational landscape. But, there is occasionally a long list of qualification requirements for prospective international students. In response to a rising quantity of overseas students enrolling in their courses, institutions are modifying their admissions standards, and English language proficiency is now often a condition for acceptance.

In terms of advanced studies, Cambridge certifications and the Cambridge English Proficiency Test (CPE) is the highest qualification of an English-speaking candidate. Since English is a widely accepted and spoken language in the world, this test is offered to aid international students gain enrollment in prestigious universities.

Multiple international companies and institutions of higher learning recognize and endorse CPE as proof of a candidate’s superior command of the English language. You can learn all you need to know about the CPE examination with this extensive guide to C2 Proficiency, including test structure, grading guidelines, and section-specific review.

What is C2 Proficiency (CPE)?

For those who want to demonstrate their competence in the English language to the fullest extent, Cambridge Assessment English conducts the Cambridge English Proficiency Test, generally referred to as CPE. It is intended for international students that have already attained an extremely advanced grade of comprehension of English and want to validate their ability for further study or employment.

Universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand all recognize the CPE levels C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency. Examples of universities accepting C2 Proficiency are the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney. Candidates who successfully complete the exam are awarded permanent accreditation. It is a standardized test of English language competency and is available in both paper and online formats.

The overall running time for both editions is 236 minutes. It has no age or qualification eligibility requirements, but applicants are required to be capable to comprehend all English. By earning the CPE in English, Level C2, an international student demonstrates an advanced command of the language appropriate for academic or professional pursuits in any English-speaking environment.

When and Where Should I Take C2 Proficiency (CPE)?

In order to understand where to give the exam, the candidate needs to navigate to the ‘Find An Exam Center’ page of the Cambridge English website. Finding a certified testing facility is a prerequisite to registering for the CPE test.

There are approximately 2,800 test centers located in 130 different nations throughout the globe. Cambridge has ensured that they are all in the highest order by inspecting and approving all of their standards, The fee of the test varies on the location and its distance from the candidate from where he may take the test.

Candidates may use this searchable database to identify testing facilities in the nation and location of their choice and register for the test. They can also get information about the testing facility, such as its contact information, the Cambridge tests it administers, and the geographical location of the testing facility.

C2 Proficiency Exam Format

The overall structure of CPE is easy to understand, however, we have broken it down into 4 of its respective significant sections, with all relevant details below.

1. Reading and Use of English Section

The Reading and Use of the English section of the CPE test is important and has multiple subsections. The duration for this is 1 hour 30 minutes and holds 40% of the test weightage. This portion is meant to test the candidate’s proficiency in English and their capacity to understand and respond to complex content on the highest possible grade.

There are a maximum of 53 questions spread over 7 different parts, testing the candidate’s knowledge using a variety of pairing, fill-in-the-blank, and MCQ formats. The applicant will be asked to read selections from a variety of sources, including print and online media.

2. Writing Section

To evaluate an applicant’s capacity to create logical, organized, and correct written English, CPE) includes a part called Writing. This section also takes 1 hour 30 minutes to complete but contributes to a 20% score on the test. In this part, students will complete a variety of assignments designed to test their command of essay, article, and review writing.

There are normally two elements to the CPE exam’s Writing section: an essay and a situational writing assignment. Essay writing requires a firm grasp of the material at hand, the capacity to use reasoning, and the talent for logically structuring a coherent argument. Part two involves the candidate being provided with a scenario or project, including composing an article, letter, or analysis.

3. Listening Section

Successfully passing the CPE test needs an exceptionally high degree of listening comprehension of conversational English in a variety of settings. The section’s given time of completion is 40 minutes and contributes to 20% of the scores on the test. There is an aggregate of 6 audio files included in the CPE Listening component, which is divided into 4 sections. The recordings can be listened to twice, with a little break in the center.

The four sections consist of matching and/or choice-based multiple-choice questions, keyword-based MCQs, and gapped text. This component tests grasp of key concepts, interpreting relevant material, identifying opinions and viewpoints, and deducing relevance.

4. Speaking Section

The oral section of the CPE test is designed to gauge how well a candidate can carry on a fluent conversation in English. 4 different micro discussions make up the CPE Speaking section, which is usually done in pairs and takes 16 minutes to complete or in smaller teams. This section has a 20% score weightage of the total score.

Four elements make up the whole: the interview, the lengthy turn, the group assignment, and the discussion afterward. It evaluates the speaker’s fluency and consistency, as well as their vocabulary spectrum, grammatical command, pronunciation, and level of engagement.

C2 Proficiency (CPE) Scaled Scores

Since the 2016 reporting year, a unified evaluation procedure has been used for all Cambridge English Exam results. Scores on easier examinations might fall on the lower side of the spectrum, while scores on challenging tests may advance further along that exact scale.

To determine how well an applicant performed in general, the system averages his performance on the test’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking subtests. A total of 230 is the highest achievable rating.

Cambridge English Score Grade CEFR Level
220–230 A C2
213–219 B
200–212 C
**180 to 199 C1 certification


Those who obtain an A, B, or C score will be awarded a Level C2 certification. The C2 certificate from Cambridge English Language Assessment is the equivalent of a C2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for English. However, only candidates who achieve at or above 180 will obtain the recognition.

Preparing for C2 Proficiency (CPE)

Here is how to prepare for a C2 Proficiency test to score a maximum grade.

1. Devise a Scheme of Study

The first and foremost point is to always make a graph of progress to document the study course. Work and study according to the study plan. Initially, keep time to manage all sections of the test. Then further down the line deviate the timescale into more time for the portions that require practice and lesser time for fluent areas.

2. Recognize the Test Format

Understand that passing a CPE test requires not just thorough familiarity with the subject, but additionally, a deep comprehension of the organization of the separate components of the test’s content. It’s important to understand the entire format of the exam before diving into it. Go through a few Cambridge mock tests with identical structures and time frames to understand it entirely and work accordingly.

3. Utilize a Monolingual Dictionary and other Test Preparation Resources

More specifically, the Use of English subsection of the Reading section will get a boost from this evaluation. The resource will include several definitions of relevant terms, along with instances of their contemporary idiomatic usage in brief words.

The candidate’s collection of conjunctions and idiomatic expressions will grow substantially as a result. Some books that are good for self-study grammar referencing and practice for this test are Cambridge English Grammar for CAE and Proficiency and Cambridge English Objective Proficiency. Cambridge English Proficiency Practice Tests, by Mark Harrison, is in its second version.

4. Solve and Practice Comprehension Exercises

Whenever it comes to test preparation, the most effective method for being ready is to simply complete numerous language comprehension activities as is practical. In a matter of reading, skimming and speed reading are also very useful.

The simplest way to prepare for the Listening section is to listen to and interact with an array of spoken English, such as a variety of sounds, pronunciations, and ways of speaking. Candidates make the most mistakes in the Use of English portion. Because of this, it’s vital to give close consideration to language, specifically word building, verb tenses, passive voice, prospective phrases, and complex expressions.

Universities and Institutions Accepting CPE Scores

Here are some of the world-class universities that readily accept Cambridge English accreditation to give admission to the candidate in their study programs.

University Name Country Minimum CPE Score Accepted
1. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom 185
2. University of Oxford United Kingdom 185
3. University of Warwick United Kingdom 170
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States of America 185
5. New York University United States of America 191
6. University of British Columbia Canada 180
7. University of Calgary Canada 180
8. University of Sydney Australia 176
9. University College Cork Ireland 185
10. National University of Ireland, Galway Ireland 185


English being a modern and widely spoken language has become a necessary requirement for acceptance in various universities worldwide. CPE being an advanced level test ensures no language hurdles are in the way of a candidate’s college acceptance. This comprehensive guide to C2 Proficiency(CPE) has all the necessary details to help you learn about the English proficiency test and how you can better prepare to ace that exam.


We hope that this article covered all the necessary details of the C2 Proficiency test to help in your exam preparation. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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