Cambridge C1 Advanced | Frequently Asked Questions

Cambridge C1 Advanced | Frequently Asked Questions

Students ask me questions about the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam every day. I think these are questions that other students want to know too. Sometimes this information is hard to find, so I created this page for you. I hope to keep adding new questions and improving this page in the future, so if you have any questions or suggestions, write a comment below!

Cambridge C1 Advanced – General Exam FAQs

Here is a video from my last members only Zoom meeting. The students sent me 8 questions which we discuss:


“I’m considering taking the Cambridge Advanced exam in March, but I’m wondering whether I have enough time to prepare for it. How long in advance did you start studying? Is 2 months enough? What should I focus on? Speaking? Vocabulary? Grammar? Writing? I’m now working through a vocabulary book to expand my vocabulary, but I’m not sure if it’s the best use of my time…Any tips…”

My response:

“This is a question that many students ask. How long you need to prepare depends on your current level. I always advise my students to start with a mock exam and see where their weaker or stronger areas are. Use this knowledge to see how much more you need to progress and what areas to focus on. You need approximately 60% to pass the exam, you can work out more specific marks for each exam paper and find out more general CAE information here >>”

Response from other students:

“It depends on your current level of English. If your level of English is already C1, it won’t be a big problem (perhaps) as the level of the test is between C1 and C2. Last October, I started preparing for the exam at school with a teacher (45 minutes a week). I did not really do any extra exercises. However, After closing schools in March I started studying pretty intensively (every day without fail, about 1 hour a day) and in October I sat the exam. I got a grade: B for the Speaking, C1 for Writing and Listening and C2 level for the Use Of English. It’s pretty tough to reach C1 when your current level is B2 especially due to vocabulary. You have to know lots of grammatical structures and phrases. Good luck!)”

“I prepared for my exam for 10 months because I like preparing myself very well before all exams…😉

I don’t have kids yet and fortunately I had a lot of free time during lock down :)”


“When you say that for example if you score lower than 8 points it’s not reported, what do you mean? Does it still count towards your overall grade or do you automatically lose all points if you don’t score high enough?”


“If a candidate receives a “not reported” score in one of the components, whatever score they have received will still be added to the final, overall score.”


“I am preparing for CAE exam. I do have a general question regarding people who suffer a disability. Are there extra exam dates available? Is there
extra time e.g. in speaking which is a challenge in itself, for example, most people with Aspergers have expression difficulties even in their native tongue


“Candidates can request Special Arrangements from their exam centres. These can be extra time, single format speaking tests and in some cases, component exemptions. For more information, get in touch with your exam centre.”


I am committed to have the CAE in 2021!
I did the exam (computer based) last December, after 3 months of preparation, and I only got the B2 level, with the overall score of 175.
Reading and use of English- B2 (very low score)
Listening – C1
Writting- C1
Speaking- B2 ( 178 – very near C1)
I had a huge problem with time management in the Reading and use of English part.
I was very near to reach the C1 Level (180 points would have been enough)
I want to repeat the exam until 31 th March.
Do you think is easier to the paper-based version?
Which advice can you give me for preparing myself?
Thank you.

My response:

“Firstly, congratulations on getting those scores and a very high B2! Be proud of doing so well in a computerised test not in your first language.

Time management is often what catches people out and is the main thing I teach my students they need to master.
I would advise figuring out:

1. How much time you need to allocate to each of the parts in the Reading and Use of English paper.
2. Which parts you can do quickly and accurately.

If you understand those two points, you can:

  1. ‘Steal’ time from the quicker exercises.
  2. Apply the time you ‘stole’ to the parts you find most difficult.
  3. Before the exam, focus on the parts you struggle with most. This will help improve your speed and accuracy.
  4. In the exam, start with the questions you find easier and quicker to complete. Then spend the rest of the time on the harder questions where you need more time.
    For the Speaking paper, look at which parts you struggle with and practice those. Remember to focus on showing a good variety of language and try to use as many C1 structures as possible. Don’t play it safe with the B2 language you know accurately. Examiners want to see you trying for C1, not staying in your comfort zone.
    Above all, keep going and celebrate your success!”

I went into more detail on some of the points above on the following webpage.
I would also advise having a read of this page.


“How much does the CAE exam cost?”

Response from other students (December 2020):

“In Austria 255€”

“In Mexico it’s around 5000 pesos”

“It depends…I payed 250€ for CAE in Milan Italy. It’s 255€ for the Proficiency one CPE.”

“I think i paid 160 pounds in the UK in 2016.”

“It was $265 in 2019 in Argentina.”

“235 dollars in Argentina in February 2021.”

“In Spain 190 Euros.”

“250 dollars last time I checked here in Brazil.”

My response:

“It depends on the country and exchange rates. Use this website to find your test centre and search on their website to find out how much it will cost.”


“What happens if I fail just one part of the CAE exam?”

My response:

“If you average above 60% across all the exam papers, you will pass. It doesn’t matter if you fail one ;)”


“Since I am going to do the computer exam, will I be given a piece of paper?
Thanks for your useful material again!”

My response:

“Good question. Yes, you are given a pen and a piece of paper in the computer based exam.

You can also write notes on the computer.

If you are doing the computer based exam I recommend watching this video:

Also, this facebook group is really useful:

I hope this helps.”


Hi, can you tell me about the format of the exam day?

My response:

Hey, I can do one better, I recently made a video about this exact topic:


I feel really unprepared for my exam and it’s in a couple of weeks, what do you advise?

My response:

If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the only one in this situation. This video has some really important information for you:


“Hello, I got my CAE exam grade some weeks ago, but I definitely don’t agree with it. I heard there is a way to submit enquiries about our results, after we pay a fee for it. Do you know if there are big chances of having any changes in our grades after we do that? Do you think it’s worth it paying for it to try to get any changes? Or do you think it’s not very likely to happen?”

My Response:

“That’s a good question. Can you see how you did in the Speaking part? I don’t think you can get this part marked again. From what I remember, the process of getting the paper marked again can be long and expensive and I remember hearing that resitting the test is a better idea. Do you need the certificate for a specific reason?

Here’s a website with a good discussion about this topic:


“Can I write with a pen or pencil?”

My response:

“For the writing paper you can write in small or capital letters and you can use a pen. For the other paper, you should use a pencil and write in capital letters.”


“Do you think that idioms like ‘off the charts’ ‘to a T’ or ‘in over my head’ are good to use in the CAE or even CPE speaking and maybe writing exam?”

My response:

“I think those phrases are good to use in the Speaking exam because if used correctly, they are good examples of less common vocabulary. Whether or not they are suitable for the writing exam depends on the question. These phrases would be good to add emphasis when more informal writing is required. If you want to know what language to use in the writing exam and other useful information, check out my CAE writing course, or read my CAE writing samples e-book.”

Cambridge C1 Advanced – Writing Exam FAQs


“I have two questions:
First of all (and this goes for the essays as well), do I need to leave a blank space between each separate paragraph in my sheet?
Second of all (this regards strictly proposals and reports), do I need to underline, or maybe put a colon after each heading?”

My response:

“Hi, I would leave a blank space to make it obvious it’s a separate paragraph.
For a report I wouldn’t put a colon but I would underline the headings.
For a proposal I think you can choose to underline the headings or not and I wouldn’t put a colon.
I hope this helps.
If you want more advice, you should check out some of the writing pages I have on my website:


“Should I underline the headlines of the report and the proposal? And if so, how can I do it in the computer based exam? ”

My response:

I would underline the headlines for the report and proposal.

I’m not sure if there is an option to underline on computer. If you don’t see that option, don’t worry, just make sure you make it clear they are headings with correct paragraphing.


“I am writing with reference to CAE writing part. I would be very grateful if you take a little bit time and answer my questions.

Firstly, I would like to know if the addressing part (To:.., From:…, Subject:…; Date:…) is needed for proposals and reports. My teacher said I should put just in case. Furthermore, I wanted to make sure if I had the right belief about titles. As I have understood, there essay, purpose, report, letter do not require a title.

Thank you for reading my email!”

My response:

“In the exam samples I have seen, some proposals have ‘to’, ‘from’ and ‘subject’ and some don’t. Here is an example: CAE Proposal.

The report examples I have seen do not have ‘to’, ‘from’ and ‘subject’.

I would write a title and subheadings for proposals and reports.

Some essay examples I have seen have titles and some don’t.

I would not write a title for a letter but I would write ‘Dear …’

This is a bit complicated, but I hope it helps!”


“Can I use words abbreviations like “can’t”, “I’m” or “shouldn’t”?

My response:

It depends on the writing and who the target reader is. Contractions are fine in informal writing, but not in formal writing. Most essays are formal and so you shouldn’t use contractions.


“Should I write with a pencil?”

My response:

Actually, you can write with a pen in the writing paper. You can also write in small letters, but make sure they are neat and legible!

Cambridge C1 Advanced – Speaking Exam FAQs


There is a question regarding the speaking part of the exam that has been bugging me for a while now and i haven’t stumbled upon a satisfying answer yet. Can my speech be informal? Can I use expressive language like “dirt cheap” or “make a killing” and stuff like that? Or is it considered inappropriate?


My advice would be to try and use more academic language if you can, but I don’t think you will be penalised for using informal language. Your focus should be to try and use a range of simple and complex grammar as well as a range of vocabulary. The key in part 2 is to show a language of speculation and comparison. I hope this helps… and remember to smile a lot in the exam too, that gives the examiner a good impression of you

Cambridge C1 Advanced FAQs Conclusion

I will update this page with more Cambridge C1 Advanced questions soon.

If you have any questions, you can write them in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Or have a look at some other Cambridge exam preparation pages here.

Next Page >>

The next page is full of CAE practice tests…

2 thoughts on “Cambridge C1 Advanced | Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Should I use all capitals to write answers for reading, UOE and listening papers on a computer-based exam?

    1. Hi Hashini,

      For many parts, the computer will allow you to choose the correct answer and you don’t need to write an answer. However, in the couple of parts where you do need to write an answer, I would write it in capitals, yes….it’s better safe than sorry.

      I recommend watching this video:

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