The Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE) is a 4-skill test of English proficiency at the high-advanced level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR C2). It is a secure exam administered by Authorized Test Centers worldwide. The ECPE is recognized in several countries as official proof of advanced proficiency in the English language and can be used for academic and professional purposes. An ECPE certificate is valid for life.

ECPE Test Format
Test Scoring and Results
More Information

Test Takers

Secondary to adult



Proficient (CEFR C2)

Skills Tested

Writing, listening, reading, speaking

Test Duration

3 hours



Test Dates

May and December

ECPE Test Format

The test is divided into 4 sections:





The test is divided into four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The first three sections are administered together in a single sitting in this sequence: writing, listening, reading. Writing requires a response to one of two options. Listening and reading questions are multiple choice and have one correct answer. The speaking section is given separately from the other sections and may be scheduled either before or on the same day as the written sections.


Test takers are given a choice between an article/proposal or an essay. Then, the test taker writes a response considering and presenting multiple points of view. Three sources in the form of simple charts, graphs, figures, and quotations are provided, at least one of which should be incorporated into the test taker’s response.

For the article/proposal, a situation and a purpose for writing is briefly described, followed by writing instructions. For the essay, a topic is briefly set up, followed by writing instructions.

1 task
45 minutes


The ECPE Listening Section reflects language used in real-life situations. This section contains three parts and assesses the ability of a test taker to understand speech in public, personal, educational, and workplace contexts. Listening stimuli feature short conversations between two or three people, extended talks given by one speaker, and extended talks with multiple speakers presented as a radio program. Questions are printed in the test booklet.

The content covers a variety of listening skills:

  • Global skills that test comprehension of the entire stimulus, such as the main idea or speaker’s purpose
  • Local skills that test a part of the stimulus, such as a detail mentioned by the speaker
  • Inferential skills that test comprehension of something that is not explicitly stated in the stimulus, such as a hint or the relationship between different ideas

The listening section is scored automatically by computer.

Part 1

Short conversations followed by a question. The recording is played once.
20 questions

Part 2

Short talks delivered by a single speaker followed by six questions each. The recording is played once.
18 questions

Part 3

Discussions with multiple speakers followed by six comprehension questions each. The recording is played twice.
12 questions (2 sets)

Total questions: 50

Time: 50 minutes


The ECPE Reading Section includes grammar, cloze, vocabulary, and reading parts.

ECPE grammar, cloze, and vocabulary questions reflect language used in real-life situations. Grammar items consist of one or two sentences containing a blank. Cloze items consist of informational reading passages with words and phrases removed. Vocabulary questions consist of one sentence containing a blank. For each item, test takers select one of four words or phrases to complete the text.

The ECPE Reading Section content covers a variety of skills similar to those in the listening section: global, local, and inferential. It features three informational reading passages of academic or general interest, each followed by six multiple-choice comprehension questions.

The ECPE Reading Section is scored automatically by computer.


An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of four words or phrases to complete it.
16 questions


Two informational passages each contain ten deletions. Each deletion is followed by a choice of four words or phrases to complete the text for grammar and meaning.
20 questions (2 sets)


An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of four words or phrases to complete it.
16 questions


Three reading passages are each followed by six comprehension questions.
18 questions (3 sets)

Total questions: 70

Time: 55 minutes


The ECPE Speaking Section lets test takers demonstrate their ability to ask and answer questions; orally explain and paraphrase written descriptions of people, places, or things; provide recommendations; negotiate a decision; present a position or decision; and justify a position or decision. The five stages of the test build on each other; as the test progresses, the linguistic and interactional demands become increasingly more challenging.

Two or three test takers participate in a semi-structured, multistage task with two examiners.

1 task, 5 stages

30 minutes

Test Scoring and Results

Test Scoring, Score Report, and Certificate

  • Michigan Language Assessment uses scoring models to ensure that test scores are comparable across different administrations and fair to all test takers.
  • The listening and reading sections of the ECPE are scored by computer at Michigan Language Assessment. Each correct answer adds to the final score for its section; points are not deducted for wrong answers.
  • The speaking and writing sections are rated using scoring criteria established by Michigan Language Assessment. (See the ECPE Speaking and ECPE Writing rating scales). The speaking section is conducted and assessed by certified speaking examiners, and the writing section is assessed by at least two certified raters.
  • A scaled score, ranging from 0 to 1,000, is reported for each section of the test and also averaged to produce an overall score. Section scores are reported in five bands.

Interpreting and Using Test Results

The ECPE is aimed at the C2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Language users at this proficiency level can:

  • Understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • Summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation
  • Express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations

The ECPE estimates the test taker’s true competency by approximating the kinds of tasks that may be encountered in real life. Temporary factors, such as fatigue, anxiety, or illness, may affect exam results.

Practice for the Exam

Download the full-length sample test to practice all four sections of the exam.

Improve Your Reading Skills

Download our activity packet designed for students studying independently and teachers creating lesson plans.

Prepare for the Writing Section

Prepare for the ECPE  with the writing tips outlined in this webinar.