Format and Content of the ALCE

The ALCE™ comprises 30 items for the Listening section, 50 items for the Reading and Use of Language (RUL) section, 1 task in the Writing section, and 3 tasks in the Speaking section.

Short Description 
Number of items





40 minutes approx.

Part 1: Listening for main idea, specific information, inferences, and opinion.

One monologue and one dialogue: each is heard twice, and each is followed by three questions. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.          


Part 2: Listening for the main ideas in a long text.

Interview: one dialogue heard twice, with seven questions relating to the main idea of each part of the interview. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.


Part 3: Listening for the main idea, supporting arguments, contrasting opinions, making connections between texts.

Group discussion: presenter describes a proposal, and 4 speakers express their views on it. One discussion heard twice, accompanied by ten questions. Candidates choose the correct answer choice from three short written options.


Part 4: Listening for specific information & supporting arguments in a long text.

A talk: a monologue heard twice, accompanied by seven questions with three answer choices.


Reading & Use of Language (RUL)


75 minutes

Task 1: Editing.

One text: ten of the sentences in the text may contain a language error. Candidates decide which five sentences contain an error, paying attention to the underlined part of each sentence.



Task 2: Identifying the best grammar / vocabulary / discourse option for gaps in a cloze text.

Two short cloze texts, each with five multiple-choice questions. Candidates complete each gap in a cloze text by choosing from four possible answer choices.



Task 3: Reading for main ideas.

Candidates read one text comprising seven paragraphs. The first seven questions concern the main idea of each paragraph, while the last three compare information from the paragraphs. Candidates choose the correct answer to each question from four answer choices.




Task 4: Reading to understand details.

Candidates read one text, usually on a scientific or academic topic, accompanied by ten questions, each with four answer choices. The questions test detailed understanding of the text, including identifying meaning from context.


Task 5: Reading to understand viewpoints in an argumentative text.

An argumentative text followed by ten multiple-choice questions with four answer choices. The first six questions concern viewpoints expressed in the text, while the last four questions concern discourse features which give the text cohesion.



45 mins

Candidates choose one from a choice of two possible tasks. Both tasks comprise an argumentative essay, in which the candidate argues a case based on at least two of the prompts provided.

1 task


8 mins

Task 1: Warm up

Candidates answer non-sensitive personal questions.


3 tasks

Task 2: Topic questions

Candidates answer two to three questions on a topic, supported by prompts for each question.

Task 3: Arguing a case

Candidates are given the context for a controversial issue, as well as points for each side. They are expected to choose one side and argue their case effectively.

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