A Letter From a Reader

Hi Andrew!

Thank you so much for your page!  I will have my exam next week and I need to confess I am little nervous. However, I have a question. How do I calculate the points of each section? I mean, how many points do we get from each exercise and calculate them to see if we passed? Hope you can help me, because I would like to simulate with my exercises! Thank you so much, Yours sincerely,



Dear S.,

First up, let me promote my online English courses. Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge Advanced has 14 units and you could do 2 a day and really prepare hard for your exam!

Calculating your CAE score is surprisingly hard. The first thing you need to know is that each section - Speaking/Listening/Writing/Reading/Use of English is worth 20% of the final mark. (So you can be really, really bad at one section and if you are good enough in the other sections you can still pass.)

The next thing to consider is that while students can buy a book with practice tests inside and calculate their scores for Reading, Use of English, and Listening, the book won't tell them their Speaking or Writing scores. If you have an English teacher who is familiar with the exam you can get an approximate score, but otherwise you'll just have to guess.

In the past calculating the score meant a lot of maths, but Cambridge have a new scoring system. I didn't like it at first, but now that I'm getting used to it, I think it might be an improvement, even though it's a bit weird.

Down below I'll include a link to a Cambridge video where they explain the new system. [Important - the exam isn't harder now! You just get a different number at the end.]

In the new 'Cambridge English Scale' a passing mark for CAE is 180. So what does that mean?

Take a Reading and Use of English test. Questions 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are the Reading questions. For parts 5, 6, and 7 you get two points for a correct answer. For 1 and 8 it's one point per correct answer. The maximum score is 50. You need 32/50 to get 180 on the Cambridge Scale (= a pass).

The other parts (2, 3, and 4) are the Use of English ones. Everything is worth one point, except part 4. You'll see the answers to part 4 always have two parts, like this:

[ interested in / going ]

If you wrote 'interested in to go' as your answer you would get ONE POINT. If you wrote 'interested of going' you would get ONE POINT. If you wrote 'interested of to go' you would get ZERO POINTS. The way to get two points is to write the answer exactly as in the answer key.

You need 16/28 to get a passing score.

The listening section is super easy - just one point per answer. You need 18/30 to get a passing grade.

Adding it Up

So if you get 180 in Reading, 170 in Use of English, and 190 in Listening, your average is 180 and you are on target to pass the exam.

Again, you'll need to estimate your Speaking and Writing scores.

This is the video that explains the new Cambridge English Scale.


Jennifer Thomas, language school owner and director (in Andalusia), Cambridge examiner and Trinity inspector, sent me a table with all the percentages and their probable Cambridge Scale equivalent.

I have turned it into a Google Doc which you can see here:


Also if you know how to use Matlab code, check the comment from Vicent below - he says he has cracked Cambridge's maths!


Bozhidar Andonov left a comment down below with his version of the table. Check it out!