December 05

Cambridge Proficiency Exam – Written

Today was the second part of the CPE. The day started really early and thanks to my shoulder and a lack of a proper schedule, getting up at the crack of dawn (or in fact well before dawn) is not fun. And it’s especially tough when it’s -5C outside. But I was on time bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to go.

The first part was the Use of English paper for 90 minutes. I’ve done a number of these for practice and I never failed one, but depending on the source material there was quite a variety in difficulty. I’m happy to say that the exam was one of the easier ones I’ve done, so I’ve got a pretty good feeling about that. Of course this being an exam you never know, but barring stupidity like slipping on the answer sheet and marking the wrong questions that should be a pass.
After a short break we had another 90 minutes for the writing. One task is to summarize and evaluate two short texts and for the other there is a choice of writing a report, an article, a review or a letter. The topics weren’t great, but I ended up doing a review. The summary was definitely the better one of the two, I struggled a bit with the review and it ended up being too long and I had to cut out some stuff on the answer sheet. Not ideal, but what can you do. I think it was decent apart from being too long, but it’s not going to win any gold stars. The worst about that though is that it is all hand written. The essays are about 300 words each, which is not all that long, but my hand was protesting and cramping.
Instead of getting the whole thing over with, we then had an hour lunch break. I had to escape the exam centre and all the nervous people and went for a stroll in the freezing cold weather. I’m well aware that Canada is the land of ice and snow, but it rarely gets below freezing here. And I was so cold! I’ve gone soft living here I think. After warming up a bit it was time for the last part, listening comprehension which is another 40 minutes. I really did not care for that one while practicing, but like the other stuff this part of the exam wasn’t a nightmare either. There were a number of multiple choice questions that I wasn’t sure about, but there were a lot more where I could clearly hear where they were trying to mislead us. I sincerely hope I do not have to repeat this thing ever again, but if I do, I’d do a lot more practice for the listening exam. After a few runs you start to hear the common ways for tricking you. I only did it 3x, so I would definitely recommend to focus on that a bit more.

So overall I’m feeling pretty good about it. I remember after the DELE I felt very, very conflicted. I knew it could have gone either way and that it would be very close regardless. Which turned out to be true. This feels better, but you never know, there’s a lot that can go wrong in an exam and a simple screw up somewhere can mean disaster. I won’t know the results until February, so I have plenty of time to fret.