3 tips for passing the Cambridge English Certificate exam

3 tips for passing the Cambridge English Certificate exam


The Cambridge English Certificate validates the level of English for secondary school students in the European section. Marie-Anne, teacher in second European English, gives her advice for success.

This Friday, March 10, 43,000 second year students in the European section will take the Cambridge English Certificate (CEC) . Recognized internationally, this certificate allows high school students to validate the B1 level of English (or A2 for the less proficient) defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR). They will be assessed on four criteria: written comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression and oral expression. This certificate, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is the result of a partnership between the British University of Cambridge and the French Ministry of National Education.

Marie-Anne, English teacher at the Darius-Milhaud high school in Kremlin-Bicêtre (Val-de-Marne), gives her advice to second-year students preparing for this certificate.

Pay close attention to instructions

This is a rule that applies to any exam… but even more so to the CEC: read the instructions carefully. Whether it is for comprehension or expression tests, it is important to do what is asked. The questions are precise and call for detailed analysis. Forgetting to take into account a simple negation when listening to audio documents may cause you to lose points. Some questions may have up to five answers, which requires the candidate to be as specific as possible.

Train without cramming

Keep in mind that the CEC is not a competition. All candidates are admitted provided they have completed all the exercises. It is therefore irrelevant to revise for the CEC as one revises for the baccalaureate or the patent. Of course, reviewing and enriching your vocabulary or strengthening your mastery of grammar is a plus for the exam. Besides, I encourage them to train as much as possible. The Cambridge English site offers free activities, mock exams and advice videos.While some teachers give their students a mock exam, the latter are completely free to practice independently using paper or computer tests.

When speaking, choose a pair you are comfortable with

Candidates take their oral expression test in pairs, sometimes even in groups of three. I advise them to choose the partner with whom they feel most comfortable. This is all the more important as they will have to discuss with each other during the interactive speaking exercise. The examiner presents them with iconographic documents and describes a situation. They should then discuss for two to three minutes what they would do in this situation. To get an overview of this test, candidates can consult the videos on the Cambridge English YouTube channel .

Things to know about the Cambridge English Certificate:

  • Dates of the 2017 session: March 10 for the national written test; from February 20 to March 24 for the oral test
  • Duration: 1h30 for written comprehension and expression (50% of the mark); 30 minutes for oral comprehension (25%); 10-12 minutes for speaking (25%)

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