50 Expressions for the CPE Exam

One of the areas of English which you need to have a good knowledge of to do well in the Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) exam expressions. In both the Reading/Use of English and Listening parts of the exam you will find lots of different expressions (idioms, sayings, similes, metaphors) used on them.

Although some of them that you will find used are quite common expressions and in all likelihood you'll have probably encountered them before, others will not be.

So, to improve your chances of passing the exam, one of the things you really need to do is to improve your knowledge of expressions that are used in English.

In order to help you do this, below you will find a list of 50 expressions for CPE exam. For each of the 50 English expressions in the list, there is a YouTube video for you to watch which will help you learn and remember its meaning and when it is used.

I’m sure that you already know some of these. But even if you do, I think it would be beneficial for you to watch the video for them (it will make it more likely that you will use them in either your writing or speaking in the exam (which is a very good thing to do, if you use them correctly)).

For those in the list you don't know or are unsure about, I would definitely recommend that you watch the video.

After watching the video for each expression, make sure that you use them (write or say one or two sentences where they are used in). Doing this will help you to remember them in the future.

A list of 50 CPE expressions

To watch the YouTube video, click on the expression you want to learn the meaning of.

  1. A last resort

  2. A pain in the neck

  3. A piece of cake

  4. A tall order

  5. Bear in mind

  6. Beyond the pale

  7. Bide your time

  8. Bite your tongue

  9. Bury your head in the sand

  10. By the skin of your teeth

  11. Change your tune

  12. Cost an arm and a leg

  13. Cross the line

  14. Down in the dumps

  15. Draw the line at

  16. Fly off the handle

  17. Get to the bottom of something

  18. Get your just deserts

  19. Get your own way

  20. Give someone the cold shoulder

  21. Have a way with

  22. Have a whale of a time

  23. Have cold feet

  24. Have it in for someone

  25. Hit the nail on the head

  26. Lay in store for

  27. Like chalk and cheese

  28. Make ends meet

  29. Miss the boat

  30. Not be your cup of tea

  31. Not see eye to eye

  32. Once in a blue moon

  33. On the cards

  34. On the spur of the moment

  35. Out of the blue

  36. Out of your depth

  37. Over the moon

  38. Over the top

  39. Over your head

  40. Prey on your mind

  41. Pulling your leg

  42. Ring a bell

  43. Sleep like a log

  44. Speak your mind

  45. Take something with a pinch of salt

  46. The last straw

  47. The spitting image of

  48. The writing’s on the wall

  49. Turn a blind eye

  50. When pigs fly