Structure of the CAE Reading Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Reading section of the CAE consists of eight separate parts. Keep reading for more information on each of these sections and an explanation of the test's scoring system.

CAE Reading Section

The Reading and Use of English paper on the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) exam consists of a total of 56 questions spread out across eight sections. Candidates will have one hour and 30 minutes to complete this part of the test and will need to read between 3,000 and 3,500 words from a variety of sources that can include book excerpts, newspaper articles, and magazines, among other documents.

Test Structure

Parts 1-3 test a candidate's lexical and grammatical skills with three blocks of 8 multiple-choice or open-ended questions. Part 1 contains exclusively multiple-choice questions, while Parts 2 and 3 include fill-in-the-blank and sentence completion problems.

Part 4 also concentrates on vocabulary and grammar, but also introduces a collocation component. Candidates will be shown a complete sentence and then a second incomplete sentence. They must then fill in any gaps with 3-6 words that gives both sentences an identical meaning.

Parts 5-8 are similar in structure and focus on confirming a candidate's reading comprehension skills. Candidates will read excerpts and passages from various texts and respond to questions about the texts. Possible skills covered in this portion of the test include:

  • Comparing and analyzing attitudes and opinions from multiple texts
  • Development & structure of the text
  • Reading for specific information
  • Reading for tone, main idea, detail, implication, attitude, opinion, and/or purpose

Candidates in these sections can expect to encounter a wide range of question types, from matching to rearranging to the more traditional multiple-choice. Parts 5 and 7 contain six questions, while Part 6 has four questions. Part 8 contains 10 questions.

CAE Scoring

The CAE test makes use of the Cambridge English Scale, which corresponds to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Candidates will receive marks for every questions answered correctly, For Parts 1, 2, 3, and 8, candidates receive one mark for every correct answer. Part 4 awards up to two marks for every correct answer, and Parts 5-7 award two marks per correct answer.

In order to meet the CEFR proficiency level requirement, candidates will need to score between 180 and 210 points. Candidates who score at least 200 will earn Grade A (the highest score), while candidates scoring a minimum of 193 earn Grade B. Grade C is awarded to any candidate scoring 192 and 180.

Scores of 160-179 are classified as Level B2, which means that a candidate did not meet the CEFR proficiency level but will still earn a certificate. If a candidate scores between 142 and 159, a certificate will not be awarded, but the score will show up on the Statement of Results.

CAE Study Materials

If taking the CAE is on your academic calendar, you should know that has several resources to help you get ready for the exam.

This Cambridge English: Advanced Test Prep & Study Guide course provides a comprehensive review of essential topics that appear on both the Reading section and the rest of the test.

For further assistance, our Grammar Flashcards and Grammar Resources for ELL Students course offer effective ways to work on your grammar skills, which are a crucial part of the CAE test.

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