I took the CIPLE exam, AMA

I took the CIPLE test today and I want to let others know how it went and offer some advice. I am assuming you already know the format of the test and have read the material on the CAPLE website.

There are 3 parts to the test that I will describe separately.

Compreensão do Oral

The Oral part was scheduled for me at 10am. This info was in the email I received about 2 weeks prior to the test. Oral at 10am, the rest of the test at 3pm. It said to show up 20 minutes before. The checkin, however was 2 dudes from SEF I believe. They flashed badges at me and looked at my ID which they compared to a list. I waited around 45 minutes, they were already running late.

Two candidates at a time are called. The instructors spoke clearly and slowly. First we had to sign a waiver related to the video recording. Then the instructor asked us questions, taking turns with us. how old are you? what do you do for work. how do you get around. I answered by bike, then she asked, why do you like riding a bike? she asked what my home was like and whom I lived with. she asked me how I get my kids to school when that came up. Just simple personal questions.

Then we each were given a sheet with a picture on it. mine was a pantry, the other student had an open refrigerator. we both had to talk about the pic for two minutes. The beans and legumes in the pantry was tough for me as I could not remember the word for lentils etc. I was glad from PP that I knew the word for pantry in Portuguese. The instructor asked me if my pantry looked like that. I talked about how I preferred fresh vegetables, fruit and meat in my diet.

Then for the student dialog, we had to play like I was a vendor of fruits and veggies and she was the shopper. We were suppose to talk for 6 minutes. We were given a page with pictures of the veggies and fruits we could sell-buy and given a minute to prep. I could write things down on a piece of paper. I knew most of then names except for the squash. I had to offer prices and give her a total. It went pretty well, possibly because I already had been talking to her in the waiting area for a while. She was so good at Portuguese I missed quite a bit of what she said but I think I faked it well enough.

I do recommend getting there early and to find out who has the same time slot you do and talk to them a bit in Portuguese. I was 45 minutes early and there were about 5 students waiting. more showed up later. I was able to talk to 2 students and I was lucky to have found the one with the same dialog time.

Compreensão da Leitura e Produção e Interação Escritas

I had about a 4 hour break before the text, writing and audio portions of the test. All of the students took this part of the test together. They start to call you abut 20 minutes before the appointed time. You are called one by one and then seated in assigned seats. The answer sheet has no name but your candidate number. You are given a single piece of scrap paper. This is helpful for writing your essays first before you copy it (in pen) onto the lined answer sheet provided. There is one answer sheet with bubbles for the multiple choice answers, one lined sheet for the essay answers and the test booklet, which you can of course write in. The bubbles must be filled in with pencil.

Similar to the sample test I saw, I had to write an email. It was supposed to be 25 to 30 words and I was to send a friend a recipe for my preferred or favorite dish.
The second essay was tricky. I am not sure I understood the question well. It said something like “Mudou tua vida. conheceu pessoas novas. escreve sobre uma pessoa conheceste.” I took that to mean I was to write about someone I knew since moving to Portugal but I was not sure. it also said to describe them physically, psychologically (!) and describe why I liked them. I spent about 40 minutes of the test writing these essays and trying to make sure I wrote what was asked. Not sure why it took me that long. Before I knew it I was told I had 5 minutes to finish. I brought a watch, but they also had a countdown timer on a screen you could see.

The multiple choice was just like the sample test. There are 3 text messages and you are supposed to pick the one that most matches the summary in the question. Then there are 2 longer texts to read and multiple choice questions about them. These are just like the ones on the sample. It took me 30 minutes to carefully answer all the multiple choice. That gave me 45 minutes for the essays. If you can pump out your essay and proof it quick then you could have time to review the multiple choice part, but I did not.

Compreensão do Oral

This was the hardest part for me. I listen to the news, I try to listen to podcasts, but I only get the gist of what is being said. People just talk too fast for me to translate in my head. To study for this I listened to the audios available on the publisher Lidel website for several books including Passaporte Para Portuguese, the A1-A2 and the B1 book. But I think these audios are too easy. In the test there was one news type audio, a reporter introduces a biologist who just wrote a book and the author says a few sentences about the book. I could not understand the author well enough to answer correctly. So I guessed. Another audio was from the start of an episode of the podcast “Portuguêses no Mundo”. She said something like, the guest had lived in Australia since 2011, for more than 8.5 years. The multiple choice options included: she has been in Australia “since the start of 2011” and “for around 8.5 years”. She talks pretty fast so that is a good podcast to help you prep. These two audios were samples from real content as apposed to the produced material I was studying.

There were easier audios, where I understood everything, like the woman buying a pass for the metro and bus in Lisbon. But most of them were hard, harder than the samples you can find on the CIPLE website.

All in all, I am hoping for a Bom. I wanted a Muito Bom but the audio portion I know I did poorly on and will be happy if I score 50% on that.

Reading and writing is 45%, hopefully I scored Muito Bom
Speaking is 25%, I think I used some Spanish words, oops, maybe Bom
Audio-Listening is 30% I do not know if I passed this part. When I did the sample test I got many of them right by careful guesses, but I found the real test harder.

Prep

The publisher LIDEL has a CIPLE test prep book. On their website you can download a sample of the book. The book covers several tests but the sample you download is about 14 pages of CIPLE prep. They also have the audios you can download. If you don’t want to buy the book then the samples still give you a lot of good material. The sample test material available from CAPLE is a good start as well. The week leading up to the test I scheduled about 5 italki lessons so I could chat for 45 minutes in Portuguese to give me confidence. Although I completed an A2 class last June, I do not think it was sufficient to prepare me for this test. I needed the extra time I spent on my own writing essays, listening to podcasts, the news etc, and all the work I did on the PP site.

The material on the Practice Portuguese website is great and I used it extensively to prepare for the exam. But I think the audios on PP might be a little too easy. You need more challenging audio material in addition to PP dialogs. And you need to practice writing on different subjects. And practice talking about simple things with someone, like introducing yourself, talking about who you are, where you come from, why you are learning Portuguese etc.

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Thanks for your honest assessment.

Thanks for this, @chris.mcnally!

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Thank you for this. I take the exam in 2 weeks (in Toronto).

I hope you pass!

I hope you pass too, Patti. I do recommend using Italki or having someone to chat with leading up to the test, made me feel more relaxed. I hope my report is helpful.

It was super helpful! I’ve been trying to gather as much info as I can so I have an idea of what to expect. I’ve been working one-on-one with a Portuguese tutor (I’m in the US) which has been hugely helpful. I don’t expect to do well on the oral comprehension as they speak too fast and drop too many letters and I am a bit slow in translating. Hopefully, I will do well enough on the other two sections to get me across the 55%. Thanks again for your post.

Any suggestions on when or where to apply to take the test? I went to the Centro de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira website and found that no test are being offered (at least in the Lisbon area).

@mcguirejajm, I registered in March for the October exam. You need to either keep checking the CAPLE site, or check /r/Portuguese on Reddit or other Portuguese language forums to see when they open the registration for the next CIPLE exams. Someone may alert when they open up.

The A2 test, CIPLE, is very popular because it is the minimum needed for citizenship. It does sell out. However my wife just recently registered for the November 9, B1 test in Leiria. So if you are very confident you could see if that test is available.

I have read somewhere, either here or Reddit, that planes fly over the Lisbon site and people found it interfered with the audio portion. You might consider the Leiria test site. It is a 15 minute walk from the Rodoviária, and there are good restaurants and a nice walkable downtown near the test for you to enjoy your free time.

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Obrigada,
I really appreciate this information . Very helpful!

Thank you Chris. I’ll keep up the search.

Obrigado. Very useful information