Prepare for Cambridge English exams

The Cambridge English exams are organized by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Over five million language learners from more than 130 countries take part every year. Our guide will help answer all your questions and show which Cambridge English exam could be right for you!

What Cambridge English exams are there?

There are various exams for general and higher education, for business and for schools. Every exam is related to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) which correspond to the levels A1 to C2.

General and higher education and the Cambridge English exams

The Cambridge English exams for general and higher education contain between three and four sheets of papers and can be taken on computer or on paper.

A2 Key

The KET, A2 key, is a basic-level qualification for English and shows that you are able to use English in simple situations. It includes all language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and takes about 2 hours.

B1 Preliminary

The B1 Preliminary, formerly known as PET, takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes. It shows that you can use English in different situations in daily life and that you mastered the basics.

B2 First

The B2 First is also called Cambridge English: First (FCE) and is the most popular exam. This exam is accepted by many businesses and educational institutions all over the world. It shows that you are able to live and work in an English-speaking country. In addition, it shows that you can take part in courses which are taught in English. The test takes about 3.5 hours.

C1 Advanced

Also known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is the C1 Advanced level, is the qualification that employers or universities are looking for. Around the world, there are more than 8000 businesses, educational institutions and government departments who accept this certificate as proof of high-level achievement in learning English. The test takes about 4 hours.

C2 Proficiency

The hightest-level qualifications of the Cambridge English exams is the CPE, the C2 Proficiency. It shows that you are able to communicate with the fluency of an English native in a very senior professional or academic environment. To write the test you need about 4 hours.

Business and the Cambridge English exams

The content for these exams is based on everyday work and business tasks and could be taken in a paper-based way or on the computer. Moreover, each test has between three and four sheets of papers.

B1 Business Preliminary

This exam which is formerly known as Cambridge English: Business Preliminary or BEC Preliminary helps you to get the language skills for business in English. It is based on everyday work and business tasks and develops your business English skills. The exam length is about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

B2 Business Vantage

With the BEC Vantage, the B2 Business Vantage, you show everyone that you are ready to work in international business. In addition, it could help you to find new jobs or to develop your international career. The test takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

C1 Business Higher

The C1 Business Higher, also known as BEC Higher, shows employers that you have an advanced level of Business English. The test takes about 3 hours.

Search now for a language school to prepare yourself for the BEC.

Schools and the Cambridge English exams

For schools, the Cambridge English exams are paper-based or digital. In general, they have three sheets of papers, only the B2 level has four. The test length depends on the level.

Pre A1 Starters

The Pre A1 Starters, also known as YLE Starters, is the first English exam for children. It introduces them to written and spoken English and focuses on familiar topics. The test takes about 45 minutes.

A1 Movers

The second qualification is the Cambridge English Movers (also: YLE Movers) which is on the level A1. The test is also designed for young learners who want to improve their English skills. It takes about one hour.

A2 Flyers

The Cambridge English A2 Flyers, also known as YLE Flyers, focuses also on familiar topics and on the skills which are needed to communicate effectively in English. The test takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

A2 Key for Schools

The A2 Key for Schools is also called KET for Schools and takes about 2 hours. The qualification shows that students are able to communicate in simple situations. In addition, it gives them the confidence to go on and to improve their English skills.

B1 Preliminary for Schools

The PET for Schools, B1 Preliminary for Schools, certificates that the student has practical language skills for different situations in daily life. It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

B2 First for Schools

This qualification demonstrates that the student is able to communicate in an English-speaking environment without problems. The exam focuses on school topics and takes about 3.5 hours.

If you want to know more about the Cambridge English exams, you could check this website: Cambridge Assessment English.

Why should you pass a Cambridge English exam?

The Cambridge English Certificate is part of the University of Cambridge and is accepted globally by top international companies, universities and special programmes. In addition, it is an asset on your CV and can motivate you to continue learning English.

Where and when can the exam be taken?

There are over 50,000 preparation centres around the world where students can take the Cambridge English exams. In addition, there are different examination dates throughout the whole year. Here you can check the list for 2019: 2019 Examination dates.

How much does it cost?

Depending on the level and the type of the test it can cost between 150 and 200 euros.

How can you prepare yourself for the Cambridge English exams?

If you want to prepare yourself for the Cambridge English exams, you have different possibilities:

Write a learning plan

If you know that your exam is taken in six weeks, you should make a learning plan to organise your days, your weeks and your learning rhythm to learn regularly. It could help you to improve your language skills in a fast and easy way.

Choose the right learning method

Depending on your learning type, you should choose a method which helps you to make progress in a faster way. Visual learners for example should take pictures, auditory learners should listen to podcasts.

Attend a language course

The best way to prepare for the exam is to attend an exam preparation course, which has been designed specifically to help you pass the certification with flying colors. Here are the schools which can prepare you for each exam: KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE, BEC.

If you want to improve your English skills, you can also attend a language course in an English-speaking country. Search on CourseFinders to find a course or read one of these articles for more information:

Learn for all parts of the exam

It is important that you prepare yourself for all parts of the exam. That means that you should listen to audio books, podcasts or the radio, read books and newspapers, talk to other people (preferably to natives) and write texts in English about different topics. It is necessary to practise listening, reading, speaking and writing at home to get the best result.

Be motivated

Maybe the most important thing is to be motivated to learn and to improve your language skills in English. Only if you are happy with your learning environment, your progress and your method of learning you will pass the exam in a relaxed mood and get the best score.

Come back to for more articles about languages and studying abroad.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and don’t miss another article on!

This post is also available in: French German Italian Spanish Polish Portuguese

Would you like to attend a language course? Check our language schools for English!