Prepare for CAE – tips and resources

The CAE exam proves extensive knowledge of the English language and confirms the language skills that foreign universities and international employers seek. This exam comes after First Certificate (FCE) and before English Proficiency. The CAE certificate is recognized in over 6000 institutions in the world. Find out more about CAE here. Below you will find some tips about preparing for the CAE exam as well as the resources to use.




Reading and use of English

In the text there will be distractors which are synonyms or are similar to the words in the question or the wrong answers. This is an intentional distraction, the aim of which is to verify how much of the text you really understand. In order to avoid falling in this trap, first read the text quickly to get a general understanding of the content.

Carefully read the questions and answers. Once you think you have the answer, read the question and answers again and then read the part of text that pointed you towards the answer once again before you make the final decision.

If you stumble upon some word that you don’t know try to figure out their meaning from the context, but be cautious of time.

Consider the order in which you do the exercises, leave the multiple choice one for the end and focus on the ones which require more attention.

Manage your time! Leave the questions that you are not sure about for the end and have enough time to complete the ones that you know the answers to.

Always read titles and instructions. They can give you some hints and make your life easier.

Remember that some exercises have examples with correct answers already given! Never waste your time on a question marked with a zero (0).

Double check your spelling.



In order to do well in the writing part of the exam you need to know what is expected of you. The examiner will focus on four aspects of your text – the content (did you do what you were asked to do), the style (did you use the right level of formality and the right tone), organization (did you organize the text well and in a logical manner), did you use advanced vocabulary and did you make a lot of grammar mistakes.

Start with a plan and jot down what each text will include and what you will write in each paragraph. You can also take notes of the vocabulary you are planning to use.

Manage your time – both texts will be around the same length and are worth the same number of points so divide the time equally.

Remember the word limit and practice writing within a given limit.

Include all the points in the instructions and use your own words instead of repeating the given words.



The easiest way to prepare for the listening part of the exam is to… you guessed it – listen! Listen to different types of recordings such as interviews, speeches, monologues, lectures, talks, general conversation and more.

Prepare to hear a wide range of accents so get comfortable with understanding people from different part of the country and from different English-speaking countries. You can listen to podcasts, to the radio, interviews, YouTube videos, watch movies and series.

As in the case of reading, watch out for distractors.

Try to predict the kind of word you will be listening for. Read the question and underline key phrases or words to try and identify the most likely answer. Is it going to be an adjective, a verb, a number, type of activity, a person, an amount of time?



Speaking consists of four parts – an interview, long turn, collaborative task and a discussion. In the interview expect questions about you, your interests, family, work or school etc. Remember to give full answers and include advanced vocabulary.

The next part will require you to talk about two out of three pictures for 1 minute. Focus only on the two you have chosen and say nothing about the third. Compare the pictures. Use all of your time and don’t go quiet. The examiner will tell you what to do, but the instruction will also be printed with the pictures. Use words like while, whereas and both. If the word might will be in the instructions be sure you are expected to speculate so use words like: perhaps, seems like, might have, it could be that.

The third part focuses on communication. You and your partner are given a mind-map, which will be the basis of your conversation. Remember that the other partner is stressed as well and is in the same position as you. Allow your partner to speak and leave room for them to speak as well.

The fourth part is the discussion and it is the continuation of part 3. Ask your partner questions, give full answers and use linking words to organize your ideas. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can elaborate on the topics from the previous part.





The links below present some form of exercises or preparation for each part of the exam. You can use them and include them in your preparation for the exam to feel more confident. In these resources you will find: complete sample papers, practice tests, exercises for individual sections, focus on speaking with exemplary questions and answers, focus on different sections and more.



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