So you’ve decided to take the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam.
Maybe you are doing it to get a job promotion or to get a placement at a university.
Maybe you are doing it for personal satisfaction.
Whatever your reasons, you want to pass the C2 Proficiency exam. Preferably with an excellent score.
But there are dark storm clouds looming on the horizon.
Lately you’ve been reading about this prestigious exam on the internet.
And it reads like a horror story.
Every website warns you that C2 Proficiency is ‘difficult’, ‘hard’, and ‘tough’. You know all the synonyms.
You start thinking: ‘Is it really that bad? What if I fail?’
I hear you.
You are under enough pressure already.
You don’t have much free time.
You may have invested a lot of your time and money to get to the level where you are now.
You wonder if it’s worth spending more time and money on this devilishly difficult exam.
Especially if you already have a good certificate, like Cambridge C1 Advanced.
You wonder why you would risk the disappointment of failing, and denting your confidence,
You might even start to think that you’re not good enough to pass C2.
If that’s the case, you’re in the right place.
This article will help you shift your mindset to set yourself up for success.
Yes, it’s true. The C2 exam is quite hard. But here’s the thing:
I’m convinced you can pass C2 with flying colours.
You might think: ‘Yeah, right!’
I get it.
You feel pressure. You are worried.
You probably also have a “voice of reason” in your head that tells you not to be silly and to aim lower than a pass at grade A.
Well, I want you to stop listening to that reasonable voice.
Because I guarantee you — if you start believing in yourself, you can pave the way to an amazing result.
To help you marinate your mind in positivity, here are 10 rock-solid facts that prove you can pass the C2 exam with flying colours.
Fact 1: Reaching C2 is not more difficult than reaching any other level.
This is very important to remember. Each level takes a similar amount of effort to complete.
So, the next step of your journey isn’t going to be more difficult than the last step, as long as you don’t skip any steps.
If you keep building on to your skills, you will eventually reach proficiency. The trick is just to not stop.
If you are at B2 level, you are already most of the way there. You just need to conquer two more levels. If you are at C1 level, you are really, really close to reaching proficiency.
Fact 2: Reaching proficiency doesn’t take forever.
I often hear students say that their progress slows down when they reach a higher level. I understand why it feels that way.
As a beginner, learning 15 new words seems to make a huge difference, because you don’t know many words yet. At advanced level, learning 15 new words seems to make very little difference. But it only seems that way because you already know 8000 words.
Actually, you can speed up your progress when you reach a higher level. You can digest much more material, because you read faster and you understand more.
You don’t need to translate much and you can use an English-only dictionary.
Reading books and blogs and watching TV and films in English gets less tiresome when you understand enough to really enjoy it.
When you’ve got to C1-level, you could reach C2 proficiency in a matter of months, depending on how much time you spend on learning, and how well you immerse yourself in English.
Fact 3: C2 vocabulary is not more difficult.
It’s true that you need to know a lot of vocabulary to pass your C2 exam. But don’t worry, the words that you need to learn, are not more difficult than the words that you have already learnt so far.
Think of learning how to count. Learning to count upwards from one hundred isn’t more difficult than learning the first one hundred numbers. In fact, once you get the hang of the system, it gets easier and easier and you can count to infinity.
To expand your vocabulary, set a realistic target of words and phrases to learn. For example, 15 words a day, five days a week. That’s around 300 words a month.
Download a list of topics to organise the words you learn, and revisit them regularly to keep them active in your memory. Try to use the words in your speaking and writing, until you really ‘own’ them.
Remember that increasing your vocabulary helps you excel at reading, listening, writing and speaking!
Fact 4: There is no new grammar for C2.
That’s right. You learn a lot of grammar points up until C1 level. But for C2, there are no new concepts, or new grammar tenses to grapple with. You just need to get more comfortable with your grammar and you need to learn some exceptions to the rules.
Let’s say, you’ve already learnt that certain verbs combine with gerunds, and other verbs with infinitives. For C2, you learn that there are a few words that combine with either the gerund or the infinitive, each with a different meaning. So for example, you learn to distinguish between try to do something and try doing something.
You can get more comfortable with your grammar by doing lots of reading. Focus on one particular grammar point each time, like the use of gerunds and infinitives. Underline all the examples you can find, and pay close attention to how and why they are used to deepen your understanding of this grammar point.
Fact 5: The C2 tasks are realistic and achievable.
All the tasks in the C2 exam are designed to resemble real life as much as possible.
You are asked to read different types of text, such as fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and manuals.
You have to write texts, such as an essay, a letter, a report or a review.
You need to be able to understand lectures, speeches and interviews.
And you need to communicate in a face-to-face situation.
This seems daunting at first, but when you put in the work, you can do them. Millions of students and professionals do these types of tasks every day.
Fact 6: READING – Your weakest point is your greatest opportunity.
Nobody likes to linger on their flaws. But if you want to pass the C2 exam, you have to embrace your mistakes. Your weak point is where you can improve your grade the most. How do you do this in the reading part of the exam?
Take several mock C2 reading exams, and locate in which reading section you make the most mistakes. Focus extra on improving that point, and you will drastically improve your score.
If you make many mistakes in part 6 for example, you need to get a better understanding of text structure. You can score 14 points in part 6, which is the most points of all of the 7 parts of the reading exam.
Fact 7: WRITING – Four ways to score points.
Many students lament that writing is the hardest skill to improve. True, it takes a lot of practice to craft words and sentences into great prose. But don’t worry if this is not your strongest point.
Your use of language — vocabulary and grammar — account for only a quarter of your total score. You can still get a good grade if you score well in the other three areas.
Here is how the 20 points for each of the two writing tasks are awarded.
Content: 5 points
Read the instructions really carefully and make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you. Do you have to compare, describe, or explain something? If you do what you are asked to do in your writing tasks, you get full marks here.
Communicative Achievement: 5 points
If you can bring across your point convincingly, you can bring home a good score. For example, to make your argument stronger, you can quote a famous person to support your idea.
Organisation: 5 points
Learn to connect your ideas logically. Practise using discourse markers such as However, Consequently, Yet, Whereas, and So, to score good points for organisation.
Use of Language: 5 points
This is the part that deals with your range and accuracy of vocabulary and grammar. You score well if you use a variety of grammar structures and a wide range of vocabulary.
As you see, you have four chances of getting points. It’s not just about constructing long, complex, and error-free sentences. You get just as many points for the other three aspects.
Fact 8: LISTENING – You don’t need to understand every single word.
Don’t freak out if you can’t always keep up when you are listening to English speakers. This is totally normal. You can’t control the speed of the speakers, and nothing is repeated, so it is almost impossible to catch every single word that is spoken.
Just try to make sense of what you caught, and don’t worry about what you may have missed. You understand more than you think.
Practice listening for key words, and for signal words such as Because, However, and Also.
Use your common sense to complete a sentence. Like this one: ‘Butterflies the size of a ___________ were observed by the team.’ It has to be a singular noun, and it’s something bigger than a butterfly.
Trust that with these skills, you can still score all your points, even if you missed some parts.
Fact 9: SPEAKING – ‘Proficient’ does not mean ‘perfect’.
Don’t get hung up on the idea that you can’t make any mistakes during your speaking exam. That’s not what proficiency is about. It is about using the English language in a natural way, like millions of people do all the time. And nobody is perfect.
During your speaking test, it’s alright if you ask the examiner for clarification if you don’t understand the question. This would happen under normal circumstances too.
Use phrases like: ‘Could you repeat the question, please?’ and ‘Do I understand correctly that..?’ You will still score good points if you give a great answer to the question.
You could also rephrase the examiner’s question to get started with your answer. Just make sure you don’t repeat the question word by word.
Fact 10: If they can do it, so can you.
Over the years, millions of candidates have passed the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. And if they can do it, so can you.
Remember that it’s a skills test. And skills can be learnt. You just have to put in the work to reach your goal.
So take on a positive attitude and set your mind to achieving your dreams. Look at the exam as a challenging opportunity that will open the doors to great prospects for the rest of your life.
Where do you go from here?
If you are still reading, I bet you are going to pass the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam.
You know you can definitely make it happen.
This year, you will hold that certificate in your hands that shows you speak English at the highest level.
You can start living your dream life.
Still have some doubts?
Don’t kick yourself if your confidence cracks once in a while.
Nobody said it was easy.
Nobody can do it all on their own.
We all need some emotional support sometimes.
If you feel you could use some help, scroll down to the bottom of this page to get our free 7-day email course and learn how to become unstoppable when preparing for the C2 exam.
You have nothing to lose, and only your dreams to win.