CAE Testbuilder – Tests that Teach

The Certificate in Advanced English Testbuilder is a textbook written to help you be as prepared as possible for the exam through a series of practice tests that are modelled very carefully after the real thing. You’ll find extra practice sections and tips to help you evaluate your own answers and understand why they’re correct or not, by looking in-depth at the incorrect answers, as well as the correct one.

Here’s how the book is organised:

First part: Reading

You’re given 1 hour and 15 minutes. The Reading portion is divided into four sections:

-Multiple Choice (6 questions): three passages are given, all falling under a common theme. For each passage you’ll need to answer two multiple-choice questions with four possible answers for each one.

-Gapped Text (6 questions): you’re given a new passage that’s more complex than the previous ones, and will have some paragraphs placed in the wrong order. You need to put the right paragraph in the right “gap” so that the full passage can be read the right order.

-Multiple Choice (7 questions): this time you’re given a complete essay or article to read, which will probably be quite long, and then answer comprehension questions; you’ll choose from four different options in each question.

-Multiple Matching (15 questions): you’re given another complete piece of writing, divided into sections or short sets with the same overriding topic. You’ll match 15 definitions with words from the article, gathering the word’s meaning from context.

Second part: Writing

You’re allotted 1 hour and 30 minutes. This part is divided into two sections:

-One Task: read a prompt that outlines the type of writing task to be performed, the reason you need to write, and the audience who will be reading what you’ve written. You’ll also read one or more brief passages, like an email, a list of notes, polling results, or an excerpt from a newspaper article. These will give you the basis for what you include in your writing assignment, which will typically be a letter, article, or some type of proposal.

-Five Tasks (you choose which task to complete): read a prompt and answer two or three questions about it. In this case you need to write an article, letter, report, essay, proposal, fact sheet, analysis, admissions essay, letter of recommendation, or a contribution to an existing article.

You’re giving a choice between tasks A and B. Tasks are based on a set of reading materials selected by a group of examiners from the University of Cambridge (www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/general-english/cae.html).

In this case you’ll need to write an analysis/review, a topic/essay, an article, or a report.

Third part: Use of English

You’re given 1 hour. This part is divided into five sections:

-Multiple-choice Cloze (12 questions): you’re given a brief passage with 12 blank spaces. For each gap you’ll have four possible answers to choose from. This portion is mainly focused on vocabulary.

-Open Cloze (15 questions): consists of a short passage with 15 blank spaces. Based on context, you’ll need to try to find the missing word. In this part you’re being tested on your understanding of grammatical structures and the overall meaning of the passage.

-Word Formation (10 questions): you’ll see a short passage with 10 blank spaces, each one representing a missing word. Off to the side you’ll see a word written in bold and you’ll need to insert the word into the text, making sure to use the correct tense and form.

-Gapped Sentences (5 questions): five sets of three sentences each. You need to complete each set with the right word for all three sentences.

-Key Word Transformations (8 questions): eight pairs of sentences. The second sentence in each pair is incomplete. You need to use the keyword indicated in bold to complete the second sentence so that it accurately paraphrases the first. You can use three to six words in total to complete the sentence.

Fourth part: Listening

You have about 40 minutes to complete this portion. It’s divided into four sections:

-Multiple Choice (6 questions): you’ll hear three recordings (not related to each other) of conversations between two or three people. You need to choose the right answer from six multiple-choice questions, with three options for each question. There are two questions for each recording.

-Sentence Completion (8 questions): you listen to a monologue, such as a speech, presentation, or part of a conversation. Then you need to write a word or short phrase to complete the sentences.

-Multiple Choice (6 questions): you’ll hear a conversation between two or three people. Then you need to complete six multiple-choice comprehension questions, written with four options in each question.

-Multiple Matching (10 questions): you hear five brief monologues all based on a common theme. You then match a set of eight sentences to each of the five monologues. This section is divided into two separate “matching tasks”.

Fifth part: Speaking

You’re given about 15 minutes. This part is divided into four sections:

-Social Interaction (3 minutes): the examiner asks you a series of questions about yourself, which you answer.

-Individual Long Turn (4 minutes): you’re given a set of images which you need to discuss for about a minute. Then you’ll discuss the images with a partner for about another minute.

-Collaborative Task (4 minutes): you’re assigned a task along with your partner, and need to work together based on a set of both written and visual cues.

-Further Discussion (4 minutes): you express your views on a number of questions the examiner will ask you.

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