Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

New Writing Assessment Criteria by Cambridge ESOL

with 6 comments

Most Cambridge English Writing papers are marked using a unified mark scheme that covers different aspects of writing ability. Cambridge ESOL has accompanied the updates that many of its key examinations have undergone over recent years with relevant changes in the way that the Writing paper is assessed. These changes were first introduced in Spring, aiming at an improved and much more fair evaluation of candidates’ papers by the Cambridge ESOL Examiners.

Examiners and marking

Writing Examiners (WEs) undergo a rigorous process of training and certification before they are invited to mark. Once accepted, they are supervised by Team Leaders (TLs) who are in turn led by a Principal Examiner (PE), who guides and monitors the marking process.

WEs mark candidate responses in a secure online marking environment. The software randomly allocates candidate responses to ensure that individual examiners do not receive a concentration of good or weak responses, or of any one language group. The software also allows for examiners’ marking to be monitored for quality and consistency. During the marking period, the PE and TLs are able to view their team’s progress and to offer support and advice, as required.

Please click on the link below so as to read the full description of the newly set Writing assessment criteria.

New Writing Assessment Criteria 2012.Cambridge English Proficiency

Criteria jpg

How are Cambridge English Writing Papers marked? Recorded webinar from Cambridge ESOL

As part of Cambridge ESOL’s new programme of webinars for 2012-13, a webinar on these new criteria, How are Cambridge English Writing papers marked?, was broadcast in September. You can click the following links to watch a recording of the webinar, download the relevant slides and look at the assessment criteria and other features of this mark scheme, learn how it is applied to marking scripts and consider how it can inform your teaching.

This E-Media section of our Teacher Support website also contains recordings of past Cambridge ESOL webinars that you can view. Previous topics include the revised Cambridge English: ProficiencyCambridge English: First for SchoolsCambridge English: Key for Schools and Cambridge English: Advanced Speaking.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

December 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I hear students and parents say that the CPE or the ECPE-any proficiency certificate- is invalid after 3 years and they believe that the exam should not be taken while still at high school but when they go to university or when they are about to go looking for work. What can I advise them to do?

    athanasia merkouri

    February 28, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    • Dear Ms. Merkouri,

      As a representative of Cambridge English examinations I can only comment on the established, life-long validity of the Cambridge English: Proficiency exam, the most recognised C2 level exam globally for both academic and professional purposes.

      As with all other Cambridge English exams, the CPE is valid for life and that is an indisputable fact. You can also visit our recognition page,, to see long lists of the institutions around the world that have in writing recognised the whole range of our exams.

      There has been a huge misconception regarding the life-long validity of our exams and this is a good opportunity to clarify things.

      There have been cases where Universities asked prospective students to sit for a diagnostic test, such as the IELTS, even though those students were CAE and/or CPE holders. The logic behind such requests by academic institutions is for them to determine whether each prospective student does have the required level of English knowledge and skills or not. Out of experience, I can confirm to you that being asked for a diagnostic test is almost exclusively the case with certificate holders that apply to university courses after a considerable amount of time has passed since their success at the CAE/CPE exam. Any CAE/CPE or other Cambridge certificate that has University recognition and is not older than 3 years is normally accepted without any further requests by Universities for proof of up-to-date knowledge.

      This practice by Universities does not diminish in any way the validity of their certificates or their value. It is also a practice that Cambridge English Language Assessment shows full understanding about as every academic institution needs to make sure that their students-to-be have maintained the necessary skills to follow an academic programme long after they were certified by us.

      Should there ever be a case that a student of yours faces similar difficulties upon applying for a University degree, please do not hesitate to communicate with us at as there is a series of actions that we can undertake along with tips we can give you so that an unconditional offer (as far as English is concerned) by the University may be achieved.

      I agree that C1 and C2 level examinations should be taken at an older age than the one that usually the majority of test takers is at when they sit for them but I believe that sitting for these exams at such an early age is a cultural thing in Greece that can hardly be amended overnight. If you run a school and would like so, please email us so that we can explore the possibility of a representative of ours to come over and present to the parents of your students on the issues that they are concerned with in relation to our exams.

      Kind Regards,
      George Papakyritsis
      Marketing Officer Cambridge English SEE

      Cambridge ESOL Greece

      March 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm

  2. I am an oral examiner, how can I become a writing examiner?


    February 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    • Dear Katerina,

      As all papers are sent back to Cambridge for internal and external marking (as per the relevant processes set by the organisation) I do not think that becoming a Writing assessor is an option for any person residing outside the UK. I am not sure of what the necessary skills are, maybe the centre that you collaborate with as an OE has more information to give you on this query.

      Kind Regards,
      Cambridge English SEE

      Cambridge ESOL Greece

      February 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

  3. Where could I get a CPE Revised Handbook from? the British Council Greece ,for example?

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