ECPE

The Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE) is a standardized English as a foreign language (EFL) examination. It is recognized in several countries as official proof of advanced proficiency in the English language and can be used for academic and professional purposes. The ECPE is accepted by some universities as evidence of proficiency in English if the score has been received within the past two years.

Level

The ECPE is aimed at the C2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and is valid for the lifetime of the recipient. Language users at this proficiency level:

  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express [themselves] spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

(Council of Europe, 2001: 24)

Format

The ECPE is a test of general language proficiency in a variety of contexts. The four component skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking are evaluated through a combination of tasks.

Section Time Description Number of Items
Speaking 30–35 minutes Test takers participate in a semistructured, multistage task involving two examinees and two examiners. 5 stages
Writing 30 minutes Test takers write an essay based upon one of two topic choices. 1 task
Listening 35–40 minutes Part 1 (multiple choice)
A short recorded conversation is accompanied by three printed statements. Test takers choose the statement that conveys the same meaning as what was heard, or that is true based upon the conversation.
50
Part 2 (multiple choice)
A recorded question is accompanied by three printed responses. Test takers choose the appropriate response to the question.
Part 3 (multiple choice)
Three recorded talks, such as those that might be heard on the radio, are each followed by recorded comprehension questions. The questions and the answer choices are printed in the test booklet. Test takers choose the correct answer from the choices.
Grammar
Cloze
Vocabulary
Reading
75 minutes Grammar (multiple choice)
An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of words or phrases to complete it. Only one choice is grammatically correct.
40
Cloze (multiple choice)
Two passages with 10 deletions each are followed by choices of words and phrases to complete the text. Test takers must choose the option that best fills each blank in terms of grammar and meaning.
20
Vocabulary (multiple choice)
An incomplete sentence is followed by a choice of words to complete it. Only one word has the correct meaning in that context.
40
Reading (multiple choice)
Four reading passages are followed by comprehension questions. Test takers choose the correct answer from the printed answer choices.
20

Taking the ECPE

The ECPE is offered at different times during the year. You can take the ECPE each time it is offered. Contact your local test center for more specific information about test dates.

Using Alternate English Accents or Spellings

During the speaking or writing sections of the ECPE, you are allowed to use alternate English accents or spellings. You will not be penalized.

Scoring

The listening and grammar, cloze, vocabulary, and reading sections of the ECPE are scored electronically at Michigan Language Assessment using an advanced mathematical model based on Item Response Theory that ensures the ability required to pass a section, or to receive a high score, remains the same from year to year.

Read more about scaled scoring in Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Scaled Scores.

The speaking and writing sections are graded according to rating scales established by Michigan Language Assessment. The speaking ratings are assigned by trained raters who conduct the speaking section of the exam (see Speaking Test Examiner Qualifications). The writing ratings are assigned by raters trained and certified according to Michigan Language Assessment standards. All writing responses are scored by at least two raters.

Test taker scores on the four sections of the exam are taken into consideration in determining who passes the exam and receives a certificate.

Procedures for Reporting Scores

ECPE test takers who achieve an average score of 650 or higher will be awarded a certificate. Additionally, those who achieve a score of 840 or higher in all four sections will be awarded a Certificate of Proficiency with Honors. An ECPE qualification is valid for life.

Scaled Score Per Section
Honors (H) 840-1000
Pass (P) 750-835
Low Pass (LP) 650-745
Borderline Fail (BF) 610-645
Fail (F) 0-605

The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) includes six common reference levels, ranging from basic user to master as defined by the Council of Europe (2001). The ECPE is aimed at the C2 (Mastery) level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Language users at this proficiency level:

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express [themselves] spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations. (Council of Europe, 2001: 24)

Therefore, ECPE certificate holders are expected to be comfortable engaging with abstract ideas and concepts. They are interactive oral English speakers; they contribute to the development of a discussion, can generally understand conversational questions, can grasp both the gist and details of a conversation delivered in Standard American English, and can understand extended spoken discourse. They should also have a wide-ranging and flexible vocabulary as well as a sound grasp of English grammar. They can understand written materials that are encountered in both general and specialized professional contexts as well as in university-level reading. Additionally, they are able to communicate in standard written English with good expression and accuracy.

When interpreting an ECPE score report, it is important to remember that the ECPE estimates a test taker’s true proficiency by approximating the kinds of tasks that may be encountered in real life. Also, temporary factors unrelated to an test taker’s proficiency, such as fatigue, anxiety, or illness, may affect exam results.

Rescoring

If you wish to have your ECPE rescored, a rescore request is available online.

  • You have up to one month after your test results have been issued to request a rescore
  • You will receive your rescore after the request has been processed

ECPE Test Results

The test center where you took the exam will notify you of your results. You will typically receive your results within two months after taking the exam. The ECPE examination report shows your overall performance (Honors, Pass, or Fail) as well as numerical scores for each test section. Certificates are sent to the test centers for distribution to successful test takers. Find out more in the ECPE results section.

Michigan Language Assessment does not issue duplicate certificates, copies of exam reports or provide replacements for lost certificates. You can order a Michigan Language Assessment Certifying Statement online. The statement will include official confirmation of the performance by a test taker. You may also contact your center to request a letter specifying the test you took, when you took it, and the final result.

ECPE Certificates

ECPE test takers who achieve an average score of 650 or higher will be awarded a certificate. Additionally, those who achieve a score of 840 or higher in all four sections will be awarded a Certificate of Proficiency with Honors. An ECPE qualification is valid for life.

A great assessment that can be used for academic or professional purposes!