CE@4x

Exam Preparation

C2 Proficiency

Exam Preparation

C2 Proficiency

Information for candidates

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

Download C2 Proficiency information for candidates

Exam format

C2 Proficiency is the highest-level qualification – proof that you are a highly competent speaker of English. C2 Proficiency is made up of four papers developed to test your English skills.

1 hour 30 minutes

The C2 Proficiency Reading and Use of English paper has different types of text and questions. In one part, you may have to read one long text or three or more shorter, related texts. This paper accounts for 40% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)
  • A single text with eight gaps. Candidates must choose one word or phrase from a set of four to fill each gap.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 2 (Open cloze)
  • A modified cloze test consisting of a text with eight gaps. Candidates think of the word which best fits each gap.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 3 (Word formation)
  • A text containing eight gaps. Each gap corresponds to a word. The stems of the missing words are given beside the text and must be changed to form the missing word.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 4 (Key word transformations)
  • Six discrete items with a lead-in sentence and a gapped response to complete in 3–8 words including a given ‘key’ word.
  • 6 questions
  • Up to 2 marks for each correct answer
Part 5 (Multiple choice)
  • A long text followed by some multiple-choice questions, each with four options (A, B, C or D).
  • 6 questions
  • 2 marks for each correct answer
Part 6 (Gapped text)
  • A text from which paragraphs have been removed and placed in jumbled order after the text. Candidates must decide from where in the text the paragraphs have been removed.
  • 7 questions
  • 2 marks for each correct answer
Part 7 (Multiple matching)
  • A text, or several short texts, preceded by multiple-matching questions. Candidates must match a prompt to elements in the text.
  • 10 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer.

1 hour 30 minutes

In the two parts of the C2 Proficiency Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Set texts for C2 Proficiency

January 2020 – December 2021

Nick Hornby: About a Boy (any edition)
Teachers may choose to prepare candidates for questions on this set text by studying the film directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz (2002) as well as, or instead of, the novel.

Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle (any edition)
Teachers may choose to prepare candidates for questions on this set text by studying the film directed by Tim Fywell (2000) as well as, or instead of, the novel.

Candidates should not attempt the optional set text question in Part 2 unless they have the necessary understanding of the text to answer the task set.

Teachers are best placed to judge which, if any, of the set texts and/or film version may be appropriate and stimulating for a given teaching situation.

Part 1 (Compulsory question)
  • Some material to read (two texts, each approximately 100 words). Using the information in this material, you have to write an essay.
  • You have to write 240 – 280 words.
Part 2
  • A choice of four questions (2–5). For Questions 2–4, you may have to write an article, a letter, a report or a review. If you read one of the set books and want to write about it, you may decide to try Question 5. You have a choice of two tasks, 5(a) or 5(b) for this question. You may have to write an article, essay, letter, report or a review.
  • You have to write 280–320 words
  • One question from a choice of four.

About 40 minutes

The C2 Proficiency Listening paper has four parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Multiple choice)
  • Three short, unrelated recordings lasting approximately 1 minute each. You have to listen to the recordings and answer two multiple-choice questions for each recording. Each question has three options (A, B or C).
  • 6 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 2 (Sentence completion)
  • A monologue or prompted monologue lasting 3–4 minutes. The questions are a series of incomplete sentences. You have to listen to the recording and identify the information you need (one to three words) to fill each gap.
  • 9 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 3 (Multiple choice)
  • A recording with interacting speakers lasting 3–4 minutes. You have to listen to the recording and answer a series of multiple-choice questions, each with four options (A, B, C or D).
  • 5 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 4 (Multiple matching)
  • Five short, themed monologues, of approximately 35 seconds each. There are two multiple-matching tasks. Each multiple-matching task requires the selection of the five correct options from a list of eight.
  • 10 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer

16 minutes per pair of candidates

The C2 Proficiency Speaking test has three parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners (the interlocutor) conducts the test and the other examiner (the assessor) listens to what you say and takes notes. Both examiners give marks for your performance. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Interview)
  • Conversation between the interlocutor and each candidate. The examiner asks each of you a series of questions, addressing a question to each of you in turn, to give you an opportunity to talk about yourselves.
  • 2 minutes.
Part 2 (Collaborative task)
  • The interlocutor gives you some spoken instructions and one or more pictures to look at. First, you have to answer a question which focuses on your reaction to aspects of one or more pictures (1 minute). The second part is a decision-making task which you have to do with the other candidate.
  • 4 minutes.
Part 3 (Long turn and discussion)
  • The interlocutor gives you a card with a question and some ideas on it and you have to speak for about 2 minutes on your own. After you finish, your partner has to comment and the interlocutor then asks you both a question on the same topic. The interlocutor follows the same procedure with your partner and then leads a discussion with both of you.
  • 10 minutes (2-minute long turn for each candidate and then approximately 6 minutes for the discussion).

Choosing your Speaking Test partner

If you would like to be paired together with a friend/classmate, you can request this when you register for the exam. Please note, however, that research has shown that there are both advantages and disadvantages in taking the test with someone you know and that in the end it doesn’t matter. What is important is that the test judges you on your own performance.

Groups of three candidates

Almost all C2 Proficiency Speaking Tests are conducted in groups of two candidates. However, if there is an uneven number of candidates at an exam session there will be one test with a group of three candidates, normally at the end of the day or before a long break. The test format is exactly the same but will last a little longer. Please note that you cannot request to take your test in a group of three.

Frequently asked questions
and exam day tips

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

C2 Proficiency FAQs  

Exam day tips – paper-based exams

Exam day tips – computer-based exams

Exam day tips – Speaking test

Sample tests
Computer based

Watch this tutorial before you start to help you understand what you need to do.

Answer keys

Reading & Use of English answer key

Listening answer key

 

There is no answer key for the Writing paper, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the relevant pages of the C2 Proficiency handbook.

Writing checklist – Level C2

Use this checklist to improve your written English and practise for your exam.

Download the Level C2 writing checklist

Examiner's comments
on a Speaking test

A document containing detailed comments on the student performances, seen in this video. It also includes information on the format of the Speaking test and how it is assessed.

Download examiner’s comments