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CAMBRIDGE

E X A M I N AT I O N S , C E RT I F I C AT E S & D I P L O M A S

CAE

C E R T I F I C AT E I N A D V A N C E D E N G L I S H

HANDBOOK

English as a Foreign Language

© UCLES 2001 NOT FOR RESALE

production and marking. For further information on any of the Cambridge EFL examinations. please contact: EFL Information University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate 1 Hills Road Cambridge CB1 2EU United Kingdom Tel: +44 1223 553355 Fax: +44 1223 460278 email: efl@ucles. and to those who are coming to them for the first time.uk www. There are separate Handbooks for other Cambridge EFL examinations.org. or intend to become.P R E FAC E This Handbook is intended principally for teachers and course designers who are. It is hoped that this will be of interest both to those who are familiar with the Cambridge EFL examinations. involved in preparing candidates for the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE).cambridge-efl.uk Page 2 . The introductory part of the handbook provides a general background to the Cambridge EFL examinations and an overview of the work of UCLES EFL.org. including a description of current procedures for test design.

........ .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. ................................... ...................................................... Page 3 ...... 9 18 31 39 49 58 .................................................................................................................................................................................. CAE Content: An Overview Grading and Results CAE Administration CAE Support .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................CONTENTS This booklet provides the following information about CAE: Introduction .................................... ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 6 6 7 8 8 Background to CAE ......................................................................... Paper 3 English in Use Paper 4 Listening Paper 5 Speaking ............. Common Questions and Answers .......................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ A Detailed Guide to CAE Paper 1 Reading Paper 2 Writing ...................................................................................................

This is described in detail on page 5. • • The core of the EFL system is the question paper production process. to collaborate on joint projects and in the exchange of ideas and know-how. e. Examinations in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) were started at UCLES in 1913. This Code of Practice focuses on the responsibilities of both examination providers and examination users and covers four main areas: • • • • developing examinations.000. The principal objectives of ALTE are as follows: • to establish a framework of levels of proficiency in order to promote the transnational recognition of certification. Other EFL examinations and schemes for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) have been added periodically since then.g. The Cambridge examinations cover a wide range of academic and vocational subjects and include examinations specially designed for the international market. informing examination takers. UCLES EFL is responsible for ensuring that various professional requirements are met. to establish common standards for all stages of the language testing process: i. Further empirical research is taking place. UCLES EFL is also responsible for the administration and processing of examinations. handbooks. support for the administration of the examinations (particularly the Speaking Tests). for test development. user service concerns professional matters such as the production of information for test users. the development and implementation of training and monitoring procedures which are required for carrying out the assessment of spoken and written language by examiners. and with considerable experience in overseas teaching situations. This includes. The aim is to ensure that standards are being met and that the examinations develop in order to meet the changing needs of candidates and other test users. and that in this context UCLES EFL examinations fulfil the Code of Practice established by the Association of Language Testers in Europe (see below). etc.I N T RO D U C T I O N Introduction to UCLES The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) was established as a department of the University of Cambridge in 1858 in order to set a standard of efficiency for schools in England.e. etc. considerable agreement has been reached on the content definition of all five levels of proficiency. The EFL team is made up of staff with qualifications mainly in the area of applied linguistics and TEFL. The members are all providers of language examinations and certificates from countries within the European Union. test administration. question and materials writing. examination reports. interpreting examination results. so that UCLES now offers the most comprehensive range of EFL examinations and TEFL schemes with a total annual candidature of over 500. user service. test analysis and reporting of findings. processing of examinations (marking.). specifications. It is also the responsibility of EFL staff to ensure that obligations to test users are met. sample materials. The First Certificate in English (FCE) was introduced in 1939. There is a programme of ongoing validation. The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) UCLES is a member of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) which was formed in 1990. and specialist staff work on analysis and evaluation in the production and review of examinations. especially in Europe. striving for fairness. The work of UCLES EFL covers four main areas: • • • • question paper production. marking and grading. Page 4 . More information about ALTE and copies of ALTE documents can be obtained from the ALTE Secretariat at UCLES. for example. reporting of test results. For UCLES EFL.. At the present stage of development of the framework. with the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). English as a Foreign Language (EFL) UCLES EFL has specific responsibility for all the professional and specialist aspects of the EFL examinations and the TEFL schemes.

The annual candidature for the CAE examination is in excess of 50. Cambridge Level Five MATERIALS BANK* Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) Cambridge Level Four Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) Cambridge Level Three First Certificate in English (FCE) Cambridge Level Two Preliminary English Test (PET) Cambridge Level One Key English Test (KET) Page 5 Question paper construction *electronic bank for pretested materials . question paper construction. The items are marked and analysed. This process can be represented in the diagram below. The pretesting process helps to ensure that all versions conform to the test requirements in terms of content and level of difficulty.e. spanning five levels. Within the series of five levels. editing. and those which are found to be suitable are banked.) are avoided. After the completed pretests are returned to the Pretesting Section of UCLES EFL. Pretesting plays a central role as it allows for questions and materials with known measurement characteristics to be banked so that new versions of question papers can be produced as and when required. For the majority of EFL question papers there are five main stages in the production process: • • • • • commissioning. the items are compiled into pretest papers. and throughout the writing and editing process strict guidelines are followed in order to ensure that the materials conform to the test specifications. Commissioning of material for question papers A Pre-editing and editing of material B Trial construction Pretest construction The UCLES Main Suite: A Five-Level System Trialling Revision Pretesting Trialling review Rejection Item analysis UCLES has developed a series of examinations with similar characteristics. Each pretest paper contains anchor items or is supplied to candidates with an additional anchor test. a score for each student is provided to the centre within two weeks of receiving the completed scripts. The Production Cycle for Pretested Question Papers UCLES employs a team of Item Writers to produce examination material. the Certificate in Advanced English is at Cambridge Level Four.The Production of EFL Question Papers The production process for question papers for EFL examinations and TEFL schemes begins with the commissioning of material and ends with the printing of question papers. The anchor items are carefully chosen on the basis of their known measurement characteristics and their inclusion means that all new items can be linked to a common scale of difficulty. Material for the productive components of the examinations is trialled with candidates to assess its suitability for inclusion in the Materials Bank. etc. on the basis of sex. pretesting/trialling. ethnic origin. After selection and editing. Pretest papers are despatched to a wide variety of EFL schools and colleges. which have offered to administer the pretests to candidates of a suitable level. Topics or contexts of language use which might introduce a bias against any group of candidates of a particular background (i.000 worldwide. analysis and banking of material.

They can use language in a creative and flexible way. CAE also falls within Level Four of the ALTE framework.g. Nationality – CAE is taken by candidates throughout the world in about 67 countries. with the average age being about 23. with the ability to respond appropriately to unforeseen as well as predictable situations. although the total number of nationalities represented in the candidature is over 175. Employment – Most candidates are students. This means that to some extent they are able to adapt their language use to a variety of social situations. The majority of these candidates enter for CAE in European and South American countries.B A C K G RO U N D TO C A E CAE was introduced in December 1991. learners are expected to be able to use the structures of a language with ease and fluency. They are aware of the relationship between the language and the culture it exists in. Age – Nearly 80% of candidates are under 25. discussing abstract or cultural topics with a good degree of fluency. This description is not a specification for the examination content but refers to language activities in real-world. Gender – About 70% of candidates are female. non-examination contexts. and a brief description of this level is given below. although there are considerable differences in the proportion of students in different countries. and not for example switch from using a British spelling of a word to an American spelling of the same word in the same written response to a given task. The written and spoken texts encountered in most common everyday situations can be dealt with at a level below that reached by the Level Four Learner. e. Reasons for taking CAE – Candidates’ reasons for wanting an English language qualification are roughly distributed as follows: • • • for study (44%) for work (41%) other (15%) ALTE Level Four – Competent User At this level. Many candidates also take the examination in the UK. demand this level of language. when candidates fill in a Candidate Information Sheet. and express opinions and take part in discussions and arguments in a culturally acceptable way. The examination consists of five papers: Reading Writing English in Use Listening Speaking 1 hour 15 minutes 2 hours 1 hour 30 minutes 45 minutes (approximately) 15 minutes (approximately) Page 6 . The following points summarise the characteristics of the current CAE candidature. Learners at this level can develop their own interests in reading both factual and fictional texts. but certain more difficult situations. They can also produce a variety of types of texts and utterances. It is also designed to encourage the development of the skills required by students progressing towards CPE.g. These are listed in a leaflet ‘Universities and Colleges in Britain’ available from UCLES. and of the significance of register. Candidates are expected to use a particular variety with some degree of consistency in areas such as spelling. in Greece it is about 17). The candidates for CAE come from a wide range of backgrounds and take the examination for a number of different reasons. Recognition CAE is recognised by the majority of British universities for English language entrance requirements. More information about university or corporate recognition is also available from the UCLES website. Exam Preparation – A large proportion of candidates (about 80%) undertake a preparatory course before taking the examination. Information is collected about the CAE candidates at each session. Examinations at Level Four may be used as proof of the level of language necessary to work at a managerial or professional level or follow a course of academic study at university level. C A E C O N T E N T : A N O V E RV I E W Varieties of English Candidates’ responses to tasks in the Cambridge EFL examinations are acceptable in varieties of English which would enable candidates to function in the widest range of international contexts. such as letters of varying degrees of formality. It is designed to offer a high-level qualification in the language to those wishing to use English for professional or study purposes. with emphasis very much on real-world tasks. Users at this level can enjoy a wide range of social contacts. CAE Candidature The Level of CAE As well as being at Cambridge Level Four. In some countries the average age is lower (e. producing quite long and complex utterances.

temporary disability. This is followed by further discussion between candidates and the interlocutor on points which have arisen from the collaborative task. It deals with all cases presented for special consideration. e. to check results. based on the performance of candidates. giving a total of about 3. Statements of results are sent out to all candidates and include a graphical display of the candidate’s performance in each paper. B and C) and two failing grades (D and E). comparison with statistics from previous years’ examination performance and candidature. Each candidate is then given a set of visual stimuli which serves to encourage a ‘long turn’ from each candidate. after weighting. G R A D I N G A N D R E S U LT S The five CAE papers total 200 marks. newspapers. etc.Reading Candidates are expected to be able to read and understand texts taken from magazines. The candidates first complete a collaborative task. Each paper is weighted to 40 marks. formal and informal letters. etc. There are four compulsory texts. Centres are notified if a candidate’s results have been scrutinised by the Awarding Committee. They must complete six tasks with a total of eighty items. C. multiple choice and gapped text. The three task types are: multiple matching. 3 and 4). to change grades. negotiation and collaboration. There are forty to fifty questions. leaflets. B. etc. etc. the third of a longer dialogue/interview and the fourth of themed monologues. Awards The Awarding Committee meets after the grade boundaries have been confirmed. notices. Speaking The Speaking paper is conducted by two examiners with a pair of candidates. The first two parts consist of two short monologues. It is not necessary to achieve a satisfactory level in all five papers in order to pass the examination. careers.000 words. The first part is compulsory and candidates must complete one or more tasks in response to a reading input which is usually made up of several short texts. Page 7 . gain detailed understanding and appreciate gist and the attitude of the speaker. statistics on overall candidate performance. Texts take the form of announcements. social. speeches. advice. These are shown against the scale. The candidates first respond to one another’s and the interlocutor’s questions about their interests. They should demonstrate a variety of reading skills including skimming. articles. unsatisfactory examination conditions. English in Use Candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of the language system by completing tasks based on authentic passages. The tasks candidates are asked to perform include the following: multiple choice. Responses should be about 250 words in length. and recommendations of examiners where this is relevant (Papers 2 and 5). The test lasts for about fifteen minutes. reports. with a total of thirty to forty questions. The tasks include the following types: cloze exercises. statistics on individual items. The input texts are taken from articles. radio broadcasts. a proof-reading exercise. transactional. They must also be able to identify and interpret the context. instructions. deduction of meaning from context and selection of relevant information to complete the given task. etc. Results may be withheld because of infringement of regulations or because further investigation is needed.). The minimum successful performance which a candidate typically requires in order to achieve a Grade C corresponds to about 60% of the total marks. They must be able to demonstrate a range of oral skills: interactional. The second part involves choosing one of four tasks from a range of writing activities (letters. Both audience and purpose are made clear in the task instructions. etc. The overall grade boundaries (A. to withhold results. etc. word formation exercises and text completion. A candidate’s overall CAE grade is based on the total score gained by the candidate in all five papers. suspected collusion. for those parts of the examination for which this is appropriate (Papers 1. • • Listening Candidates are expected to understand each text as a whole. The committee can decide to ask for scripts to be remarked. leaflets. Exceptional – Good – Borderline – Weak and indicate the candidate’s relative performance in each paper. The final two parts are linked. There are four parts lasting approximately forty-five minutes in all. Writing Candidates are expected to complete writing tasks in response to the stimuli provided (input text and task instructions).g. Results are reported as three passing grades (A. messages. D and E) are set according to the following information: • • • statistics on the candidature. scanning. multiple matching and note or sentence completion.

A comprehensive list of those published by UK Publishers is available from UCLES and is on the UCLES website. or from the address on page 1. within a month of the issue of statements of results. CAE requires an all-round language ability and this should be borne in mind when selecting course materials. Seminars for Teachers UCLES offers a wide range of seminars designed for teachers concerned with the EFL examinations. Certificates are issued about six weeks after the issue of statements of results. etc. These may include extra time. In some areas this information can also be obtained from the British Council. The sample question papers included in this Handbook (in reduced format) are taken from previous CAE examinations and trialled materials. Further Information Copies of the Regulations and details of entry procedure. Past Papers & Examination Reports Special Arrangements Special arrangements are available for disabled candidates. Candidates must enter through a recognised centre. Braille transcription. separate accommodation or equipment. some are also suitable as introductions for administrators. Some seminars are intended to provide information and support for teachers who are familiar with the examinations. Contact EFL Information for further details. C A E A D M I N I S T R AT I O N CAE is held each year in June and December in about 1. C A E S U P P O RT Course Materials A number of coursebooks and practice materials are available from publishers. current fees and further information about this and other Cambridge examinations can be obtained from the Local Secretary for UCLES examinations in your area.000 centres worldwide. care should be taken to ensure that course books and practice materials selected accurately reflect the content and format of the examination. school directors. However. which can be used for practice. Examination Reports are also available from Local Secretaries or from the UCLES website. UCLES does not undertake to advise on textbooks or courses of study. N. etc. Most coursebooks will need to be supplemented. Enquiries about results may be made through Local Secretaries.Notification of Results Statements of results are issued through centres approximately two months after the examination has been taken. Consult the UCLES Local Secretary in your area for more details. Page 8 . candidates are strongly advised not to concentrate unduly on working through practice tests and examinations as this will not by itself make them more proficient in the different skills. Past examination papers. and others can be used to introduce teachers to established examinations and also to new or revised UCLES examinations.B. are available from Local Secretaries and from the Publications Department at UCLES.