Congratulations! You’ve passed your Cambridge B2 First exam. It was a hard road but you did it. Now what’s next? Some people may want to take a break from their English exams. Others might want to throw themselves back in the deep end and start preparing for another Cambridge English qualification.

If that sounds like you – the C1 Advanced is probably your next step. It offers you an excellent way to develop your English and prove your skills to the world. However, for many, it’s a big jump from the B2 First exam and takes a lot of preparation.

So is it the time to make the transition? Read on for what to expect and decide what’s right for you.


Is there much difference between the exams?


The answer is yes! You will need to work a lot harder and be serious about your preparation for the C1 Advanced exam. While the B2 First shows you have a good grounding in English, the C1 Advanced is closer to the level of a native speaker.


What are the main differences between the B2 First and C1 Advanced exams?


The format of the two exams are more or less the same, the main difference is in the level and complexity of the questions. You’ll also find more sophisticated themes – the familiar topics of The Environment, Free Time and Education are still there, but are explored in more depth at C1 Advanced.



At B2 you should be able to understand in detail what is said in standard spoken English. This includes straightforward dialogues. At C1, however, you must be able to follow extended speech even when it’s not clearly structured, and when the speakers opinions are not as obvious.

Another difference is in the structure of the listening paper. In the C1 Advanced exam parts 3 and 4 have been reversed. The long interview or discussion now appears as part 3, and the part where you have to match the speakers comes last. This part is also made more difficult by the addition of a second task which students often find very confusing.

Read our tips for improving your listening at home.


Reading and Use of English

At B2 you are required to quickly read and understand texts, and look for relevant information. By C1 you should also be able to understand more complex reports, analyses and commentaries where different viewpoints and arguments are also crucial.

At this level the texts are also longer and contain a wider range of complex language. There’s also the addition of an extra reading – part 8 – so you’ll need more stamina for the C1 Advanced.

In the Use of English you’ll be faced with some more technical grammar with things like inversion and participle clauses and the vocabulary depends on a strong knowledge of collocations and phrasal verbs.

Explore these nice ideas for improving your reading.



You’ll probably remember the speaking part of your B2 First exam. They’ll have asked you simple questions about yourself and your opinions on common themes. At C1 it gets a bit more difficult as you have to talk about more unfamiliar topics too.

Another change is in part 2. You are now given 3 photos and have to choose 2 to discuss. You still have a time limit of approximately 60 seconds, but you now have to answer two questions about the photos. This means you need to be concise and can’t spend too much time comparing or describing them. Part 4 is also a minute longer.

Fluency is also key! By this level you should be able to talk extensively with little hesitation and while you can still make the odd mistake, you’ll be expected to use both simple and complex language successfully.

Check out these six ways to ace your speaking exam.



In the writing part of the B2 First exam you have to be able to write clear and detailed texts that develop your argument. By C1 however, they want you to express yourself on a wider range of topics and develop your arguments with more evidence.

The language you use should also be more complex. At C1 level you should have nailed the basic grammar. And you need to show your knowledge of collocations, phrasal verbs and idioms. So, stop avoiding them like the plague!

Download this checklist from Cambridge Assessment English and improve your writing at C1 level.


How long does it take to go from B2 First to C1 Advanced?


The number of hours it takes to bridge the gap from one level to another depends on many factors, but Cambridge Assessment English recommends approximately 200 guided learning hours to move from B2 to C1 on the CEFR. That’s a lot of hours so you may want to consider some extra preparation before rushing to sign up for your next exam.

The amount of time it takes will also depend on how well you did in the B2 First exam. To help you decide what’s right for you, let’s look at how the Cambridge English results are calculated.

What’s the difference between the B2 First and the C1 Advanced | The Cambridge English Scale | Oxford House Barcelona

Diagram taken from Cambridge English

Most Cambridge English exams are marked using The Cambridge English Scale. You are awarded a score which is a number and will be equivalent to a letter on the Common European Framework of Reference.

To obtain the B2 level in the B2 First exam you must achieve 160 points or more.

If you scored between 160 and 172 points you will achieve a grade C at B2 Level. If you got between 173 and 179 points you will have a grade B, and if you got between 180 and 190 points you will receive a grade A.

What’s the difference between the B2 First and the C1 Advanced | Cambridge English Scale Score | Oxford House Barcelona

Grade A (180-190)

As you can see from the image above there is some overlap with the grades. A grade A at B2 level is actually the same as a grade C at C1 level. So with this score you will already technically be at C1 level. However, if you need the C1 Advanced certificate for work or study purposes, you will likely have to sit the C1 exam.

If this is the case we’d recommend you take an intensive 32 or 64 hour Cambridge C1 Advanced preparation course.

Grade B (173-179)

If you scored a grade B the leap to passing the C1 Advanced is not too big. If so, you may want to begin preparing for your exam now.

If this is the case we’d recommend you take an extensive Cambridge C1 Advanced preparation course.


Grade C (160-172)

However, if you got a grade C you’ve still achieved the B2 First, so well done! But if it was just scraping by, with one or two marks this might be a sign that you need some more practice before thinking about the C1 exam.

If this is the case we’d recommend you take a C1 General English Intensive or Extensive course.

If you haven’t taken the B2 First exam but would like to start preparing for Cambridge C1 Advanced, we recommend you come to the school, take a level test and speak to one of our expert teachers.

Whatever you decide, good luck!

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

(Throw) in the deep end (exp): to embark on a new and difficult activity.

Grounding (n): knowledge of the basic facts.

Straightforward (adj): easy to understand or simple.

Stamina (n): the mental strength to do something for a long time.

Hesitation (n): a pause when nervous.

To nail something (exp): to be perfect or successful at something.

Avoid something like the plague (exp): to avoid something completely.

Bridge the gap (exp): to connect two things to make the difference smaller.

Overlap (n): when two things have two parts that are the same.

Leap (n): a big jump.

To scrape by (pv): to only gain enough marks to pass.


exp= expression

adj= adjective

n= noun

pv= phrasal verb

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