Preparing candidates for the Cambridge English Proficiency exam

(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)


There is a wide range of official free and paid for Cambridge English support materials from Cambridge English Language Assessment and Cambridge University Press, including the coursebook and practice tests and other types of materials in both print and digital formats, such as the teacher handbook and the speaking test preparation pack.  

Checklist to improve writing

When writing any text it is useful for candidates to have a checklist to refer to so that they can improve their written English. The same checklist may also be useful to look at if they are checking a classmate’s work. This checklist is useful for English learners who have a C2 level of English and it relates to the Cambridge English C2 Assessment Scale, which our examiners use when they assess writing. To assess a piece of writing, examiners consider these four things, called subscales: 

• Content – how well the task has been completed; for example, have all the criteria for the piece of writing been met? 

• Communicative Achievement – how appropriate the writing is in terms of genre; for example, who are they writing the text for and what expectations do they have? 

• Organisation – the way the text is organised; for example, is the text focused on the main aspects and how have they prioritised the information? 

• Language – vocabulary and grammar; for example, are the language and grammatical structures appropriate for the readership and the task, and how accurate is their work?


Has the student selected the most appropriate information to cover the topic?  

– Who are they writing the text for and what do they need to know? 

– Do they need to demonstrate their own knowledge or are they writing to inform others? 

– Do they need to include references or examples to support any ideas or information? 


Has the student communicated their ideas in an effective way for the intended audience? 

– Are they writing text for other professionals or academics to read? 

– Do they need to use a formal tone or a more simplistic tone for their audience?

 – Are they presenting their own opinions or those of other people? 

– Are there any particular writing conventions that they should include in the text? 


Is the text coherent and logically developed? 

– What is the most effective structure for their text? 

– Are the ideas linked throughout the text to form a cohesive whole?

 – Have they covered all the points in equal measure or is there a focus on one point? 

– Will the reader understand the argument and be able to follow their thoughts? 


Have they selected the most appropriate structures and language for the text and the readership?

 – Are the grammar structures they have used appropriate for the text type? 

– Have they used a range of vocabulary and grammar structures accurately?

– Is the functional language appropriate for the context and the readership? 

– Have they checked for repetition of expressions and can they re-phrase any of them?

 – Is there any topic-specific vocabulary which needs to be used and is this correct?


 Help your students understand their performance at the exam 

The statement of results gives two main pieces of information. 

 1/ Overall score:  

This is the overall Cambridge English Scale score for the whole exam. It is the average of the five individual scores that a candidate receives for the four skills and Use of English. This is the most important piece of information. 

2/ Individual scores:  

Candidates are given a Cambridge English Scale score for each of the four skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) and Use of English. With these individual scores it is easy for them to see how they performed across the exam and if they need to improve in any of the skills. They will also receive a CEFR level and a grade for the overall exam. These are also shown on the Statement of Results. 


As well as a statement of results, everyone who achieves a score of 200-230 will receive a Certificate of Proficiency in English. If the candidates’ score is between 180 and 199, they will receive a Cambridge English certificate stating that they demonstrated ability at CEFR level C1. 


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