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

Listening, reading, writing, 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.


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, educational, and workplace contexts. Items feature short conversations between two people, short comments or questions needing a response, and longer speeches from one speaker. The content covers a variety of listening skills:

  • Global skills that test comprehension of the entire passage, such as asking for the main idea
  • Local skills that test a part of the passage, such as a detail mentioned by the speaker
  • Inferential skills that test comprehension of something that is not explicitly stated in the text, such as drawing a conclusion

The listening section is scored automatically by computer.

Part 1

Short conversations are each followed by a choice of three statements that are based on the conversation.
15 questions

Part 2

Questions or comments are each followed by three printed responses. The questions are not printed in the test booklet.
20 questions

Part 3

Three recorded talks (such as from a radio program) are each followed by five questions. The questions are printed in the test booklet.
15 questions (3 sets)

Total questions: 50

Time: 35-40 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 the one of four words or phrases that belongs.

The ECPE Reading Section content covers a variety of skills similar to those in the listening section: global, local, and inferential. It features four informational reading passages of academic or general interest, each followed by five 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.
40 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.
40 questions


Four reading passages are each followed by five comprehension questions.
20 questions (4 sets)

Total questions: 120

Time: 75 minutes


The ECPE Writing Section offers test takers a choice of two contexts or situations, each followed by a statement of what they should discuss. Test takers explain their viewpoint in an argumentative essay in which they consider both sides of an issue. There is no word limit, but test takers are advised to write one-and-a-half to two pages.

Test takers choose from two topics to write an essay.

1 task
30 minutes


The ECPE Speaking Section lets test takers demonstrate their ability to ask and answer questions; orally explain and paraphrase from 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.

5 stages

30-35 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. 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.

More Information

Highlights about ECPE

Learn about ECPE content, results, format, and more.

Speaking Test Video

Watch a full ECPE Speaking Test.

Revised ECPE Beginning May 2021

Learn more about the revision and important dates.