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by Roxana Prunache
Acquiring competitive skills in a foreign language is always considered as a distinctive plus. It could differentiate you from all the rest of the speakers knowing the same foreign language. However, this applies only if you have a certificate or a diploma to prove it.
As English represents one of the most wide spoken foreign languages, nowadays, there are numerous tests and exams for evaluating ones English language skills. One of these tests is the high-level qualification in English for demanding academic and professional situations, called the Certificate in Advanced English.
The ones interested in taking this exam have to contact the evaluating centers in order to have more information on the signing up process or just to have a look at this page with more information.
The exam consists of five papers: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. It requires a long and intense preparation in order to achieve a high score.
As its name states, the first section contains four written extracts, from several domains, together with some questions in order to test the comprehension abilities. The time limit is 1 hour and 15 minutes, after which candidates take a short brake, before the next round.
The Writing test consists of two compulsory tasks that you have to fulfill in 90 minutes. The first one implies writing the Summary of a text from a given domain. The second part gives you the choice to write a letter, a report, a proposal or an information sheet. The most important criteria of this section are the accuracy of the language, as well as respecting the register for the chosen theme.
During one more hour, the contestants have to prove their grammar skills, by answering the 50 questions in the Use of English. The questions contain some references to English idioms, collocations and phrasal verbs.
The last but not least, this part evaluates the candidates listening skills and his/her ability to memorize the right answers to the questions indicated on the exam paper. The two given audio extracts, one you can listen to one time and the other one twice, enables you to test your short-time memory and capacity of reasoning.
The last section implies answering to some questions, orally, together with an unknown partner sitting next to you. Your emotions and the improvising skills will be evaluated, as the answers of your colleague will surely influence yours.
All these exam part require certain knowledge of the English language, preferably to an advanced level. As mentioned before, hard work and good preparation will surely ensure you the desired certificate.
Personally, I must admit that my self-study when preparing for the exam was not that intense at the time. Nevertheless, we had preparing courses during all week at school, extremely interactive, being especially focused on the Speaking section.
Despite all this, I was very nervous and impatient on the exam day. The Speaking part did not go so well, as my dear colleague was not that talkative as I had hoped. Apparently, I was the only one talking or completing her sentences, whenever it was the case. This was not that good, as the evaluating teacher told me I should not have been so dominant.
All in all, I have received the Certificate in Advanced English. I am so proud of this achievement that I have obtained through quite an intensive self-study. The preparation materials consisted of several books and audio extracts from different fields. I strongly recommend you the Advanced gold Course book, written by Richard Acklam and published by Longman Pearson, in 2001. It represents the perfect combination of well-structured tests, together with keys and satisfying explanations.
Remember, an international certificate confirming your foreign language skills might be very useful when applying for a program which implies studying courses taught in English at university or higher education level, employment in professional international environments or applying for visas to study in Australia and the UK.