ALPE, Association de langues pour enfants

A Certified Preparation Centre entering candidates for the Cambridge English exams.

Centre certifié de préparation aux examens de l'Université de Cambridge

Cambridge exams preparation

ALPE_certificat-CambridgeThe Cambridge examinations are taken by over 3 million people every year. They are recognised by universities and colleges throughout the world as clear and reliable evidence of ability in English.

Below you will find an introduction to each of the examinations. More detailed information is available on the main Cambridge English Language Assessment website.

If you are a teenager, (Cycle or College levels) you can test your English level. Take the free online test; it will tell you which Cambridge English exam may be the best for you. Click here to open the Test web page.

Below you will find an overview of each exam. Click on the name of each exam:

Cambridge English: Young Learners (YLE)
The English Tests for Young Learners are designed to assess the English of primary learners between the ages of 7 and 12. There are three levels: Starters, Movers and Flyers. The tests aim to sample relevant and meaningful language use, measure ability accurately and fairly, present a positive impression of international tests, and promote and encourage effective learning and teaching. Each level of the test has three components: Reading and Writing, Listening and Speaking.

All three components are attractively illustrated in full-colour.

As the highest level test Flyers is roughly equivalent in language level to the KET, it can serve as an appropriate bridge to the KET or a step leading to PET, as learners move into adolescence.

Cambridge English: Key (KET)

This is an examination based on the Council of Europe’s Waystage 1990 Specification. It was introduced in 1994. It provides an initial learning objective for adolescents and adults, enabling learners to meet their basic communication needs in English, and is the first step on the ladder of the five level Cambridge Main Suite examinations.
KET has three components:

  • Reading / Writing: Candidates are assessed as to their ability to extract factual information from short, simple texts taken from a variety of genuine sources to complete simple texts in writing. Use is made of graphics and a variety of layouts in contextualising and adding to the authenticity of the task. Reading texts are taken from sources such as signs, forms, product packages, guides and newspapers. Texts used for writing include forms and simple messages and letters. The paper consists of forty objective items relating to a number of reading-based activities; fifteen one-word written responses relating to reading-based activities; and five points relating to a short writing task. The following task types are used: multiple choice, matching, gap filling and form filling.
  • Listening: Candidates are assessed on their ability to follow short spoken exchanges, and to extract specific information without necessarily understanding every word. Listening texts are adapted from authentic texts or specially written to simulate authenticity. They include informal exchanges, recorded messages and telephone conversations. The delivery speed is at the slow end of normal speech rate. There are fifteen objective items (multiple choice and matching task types) and ten items requiring short answers (one or two words, a number, etc.). The test lasts for approximately 25 minutes.
  • Speaking: The Speaking Test has two parts and lasts 8 – 10 minutes. Candidates are tested in pairs by two Examiners (an Interlocutor and an Assessor), and are required to participate in conversations about themselves and other topics, both with the examiner and with each other.
    In Part 1 the examiner asks ‘bio-data’ type questions; Part 2 involves candidates asking and answering questions about factual information of a personal or non-personal kind.

Results: There are two pass grades: ‘Pass’ and ‘Pass With Merit’, and two fail grades: ‘Narrow Fail’ and ‘Fail’. Certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve the passing grades

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET)

This is an examination introduced in 1981, based on the Council of Europe’s Threshold Specification, which tests the language skills needed to survive in social and work situations in an English-speaking environment. It was recently revised to bring it into line with Threshold 1990.

PET has four components:

  • Reading: Candidates are assessed as to their ability to understand public notices and signs and choose appropriate vocabulary and connecting words. They must also be able to read and understand short factual texts in detail, scan factual material for information and read passages for gist (identifying the source, understanding the purpose and attitude of the writer, etc.). Texts are usually authentic or semi-authentic public notices, signs, advertisements, news articles, etc. There are five compulsory questions, each with five to ten items using a selection of the following task types: multiple choice, matching, true/false.
  • Writing: Candidates must be able to give information, report events, describe situations and express opinions, taking into account the specified audience and purpose. There are three compulsory tasks. The first requires the candidate to transform the grammatical structures of five sentences so that they keep their original meaning. The second involves filling in a form with ten items. The third requires the candidate to complete a short, relatively free writing task (letter, postcard, report, etc.) conveying information, usually to family or friends. The response should be about 100 words in length.
  • Listening: Candidates must be able to understand short dialogues and extract factual information (opening times, weather, etc.) from them. They are also expected to make sense of longer dialogues and show an appreciation of the attitudes of the speakers. Listening texts include specially recorded announcements, news items and conversations. There are four sections, lasting approximately 30 minutes in all, with twenty-five items of the following task types: multiple choice, gap filling, true/false.
  • Speaking: Candidates are tested in pairs by two examiners (an Interlocutor and an Assessor), and must be able to carry on a general conversation about themselves, participate in a simulated situation and talk about a situation depicted in a photograph. Candidates are expected to respond to photographs, pictures, etc. and to understand questions and answer appropriately. The test lasts for 10 – 12 minutes per pair of candidates.

Results: There are two pass grades: ‘Pass’ and ‘Pass With Merit’, and two fail grades: ‘Narrow Fail’ and ‘Fail’. Certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve the passing grades

Cambridge English: First (FCE)

This is an examination at an intermediate level, requiring competence in all the language skills. It is widely recognised in commerce and industry, and by educational institutions in Britain and overseas as proof of language ability at an intermediate level. An extensively revised version was introduced in December 1996.

  • Reading: Candidates are assessed as to their ability to read semi-authentic texts of various kinds (informative and general interest) and to show understanding of gist, detail and text structure, and to deduce meaning. The paper contains four parts. Each part contains a text and corresponding comprehension tasks. One part may contain two or more shorter related texts.
  • Writing: Candidates are assessed as to their ability to write non-specialised task types such as letters, articles, reports and compositions for a given purpose and target reader, covering a range of topics. One of the tasks in Part 2 is based on an optional reading of one of five background books. Candidates are required to carry out two tasks; a compulsory one in Part 1, and one from a choice of four in Part 2. The length of each answer is 120 – 180 words. One or more texts may be read as background preparation for optional tasks in Paper 2 (Writing). See Set Texts for 2002 and 2003 below.
  • Use of English: Candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and control of the language system by completing a number of tasks, some of which are based on specially written texts. The paper contains five parts and sixty-five questions, which take the form of multiple choice cloze, open cloze, ‘key’ word transformations, error correction and word formation task types.
  • Listening: Candidates are provided with short extracts and longer monologues, announcements, extracts from radio programmes, news, features, etc. at an intermediate level. They are expected to show understanding of detail and gist, and to deduce meaning. The paper contains four parts. Each part contains a recorded text or texts and corresponding comprehension tasks. Each part is repeated.
  • Speaking: The standard test format is two candidates and two examiners. Candidates must be able to respond to questions and interact in conversational English. Prompt materials are used by the examiner to stimulate and guide the interaction. The paper contains four parts including short exchanges with the examiner and with the other candidate, and a ‘long turn’ of about one minute.

Results: There are three pass grades (A, B, and C) and certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve these grades. Candidates who achieve a grade D or E are judged not to have reached the required standard for FCE

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
This is an examination at an advanced level which was introduced in 1991 and is suitable for people who require English for professional or study purposes. There is an emphasis on real-world tasks. It is also recognised by the majority of British universities as fulfilling English Language entrance requirements.

CAE has five components:

  • Reading: Candidates are assessed as to their ability to read and understand texts taken from magazines, newspapers, leaflets, etc. They should demonstrate a variety of reading skills including skimming, scanning, deduction of meaning from context and selection of relevant information to complete the given task. There are four texts, giving a total of about 3,000 words. There are forty to fifty questions. The three main task types are: multiple matching, multiple choice and gap filling (at paragraph level).
  • Writing: Candidates are expected to complete non-specialist writing tasks in response to the stimuli provided (input text and task descriptions). The input texts are taken from articles, leaflets, notices, formal and informal letters, etc. Both audience and purpose are made clear in the task descriptions. The first part is compulsory and candidates must complete one or more tasks in response to a reading input which is usually made up of several short texts. The second part involves choosing one of four tasks from a range of writing activities (letters, articles, instructions, messages, etc.). Responses should be about 250 words in length.
  • English in Use: Candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of the language system by completing tasks based on authentic passages. They must complete six tasks with a total of approximately seventy items. The tasks are of the following types: gap filling, proof-reading exercises, text completion, text expansion (of notes etc.).
  • Listening: Candidates are expected to understand each text as a whole, gain detailed understanding and appreciate gist and the attitude of the speaker. They must also be able to identify and interpret the context. Texts take the form of announcements, speeches, radio broadcasts, etc. There are four sections lasting approximately 45 minutes in all, with a total of thirty to forty questions. The first two sections consist of two short monologues, the third of a longer dialogue/interview and the fourth of conversational extracts. The tasks candidates are asked to perform include the following: information transfer, various types of matching, note completion and multiple choice. Sections A, C and D are repeated; Section B is played once only.
  • Speaking: The Speaking Test is conducted by two Examiners with a pair of candidates. They must be able to demonstrate a range of speaking skills: interactional, social, transactional, negotiation and collaboration. The test lasts for fifteen minutes. The candidates first introduce themselves and respond to questions about their interests, careers, etc. Each candidate is then given a set of visual stimuli which serve to encourage a ‘long turn’ from each candidate. The final two parts are linked. The candidates first complete a collaborative task. This is followed by further discussion between the candidates and both examiners on points which have arisen from the collaborative task.

You can also consult the online site of the Cambridge Examination Centre in Geneva:

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