Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations) is a non-profit organisation offering English language certificates for different language levels. They offer many types of exams, but the most popular ones are:

B2 First

B2 First — formerly known as FCE: First Certificate in English — is about the same level as the common scores for the TOEFL® test (B1–B2) and IELTS 5.5–6.5. It takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

C1 Advanced

C1 Advanced — formerly known as CAE: Certificate in Advanced English — is oriented at the high C1–C2 levels (comparable to IELTS 6.5–8.0) and is accepted by many British universities and over 9,000 educational institutions and businesses worldwide. It takes around 4 hours to complete.

C2 Proficiency

C2 Proficiency — formerly known as CPE: Certificate of Proficiency in English — is the most advanced exam, ranked at the C2 level, which is well above the maximum scale of the TOEFL® test and similar to an 8.5 and above in the IELTS test. It takes around 4 hours to complete.

All 3 English exams (B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency) are divided into 4 parts:

  • Reading and Use of English
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking

Cambridge certificates are mainly used in the United Kingdom, but they are also accepted by numerous universities and colleges worldwide. Still, they are not as popular as TOEFL® and IELTS.

Unlike other certificates, Cambridge qualifications do not have an expiry date. However, universities and other organisations can choose if they accept results older than 2–3 years.

If you can prove you’ve been practising or using English in the years after passing your Cambridge exam, you might be on the safe side. But if you passed an examination 5 years ago and then only used English occasionally, you should not expect any institution to accept your certificate.



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