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FIRST CERTIFICATE IN ENGLISH

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What is the First Certificate in English?

The Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) is Cambridge ESOL's upper-intermediate level exam.

FCE is at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This framework uses six levels to describe language ability: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

The FCE is internationally recognised for business and study purposes. And the FCE is valid for life, you will never need to take the exam again.

 

What is the examination like?

The FCE examination has five papers.

  • Paper 1: READING (1 hour) - 30 questions - 3 parts

    Part 1: A text, followed by 8 multiple-choice questions. Students must choose one answer from four options.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to identify gist, detail, opinion, attitude, tone, main idea, purpose, meaning from context, text organisation, exemplification, comparison, reference.

    Part 2: A text from which sentences have been removed and placed in jumbled order after the text. Students must identify the correct sentences for each gap.
    How many questions? 7.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to identify text strucuture, cohesion and coherence.

    Part 3: A text or several short texts preceded by multiple-matching questions. Students must match prompts to elements in the text.
    How many questions? 15.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise how to understand the structure, development and global meaning of a text.

    Try our Reading Comprehension Exercises


  • Paper 2: WRITING (1 hour 20 minutes) - 2 questions - 2 parts

    Part 1: Some text to read (around 160 words). Using the information in this material, students must write a a letter or email.
    How many questions? 1 (you must write 120-150 words).
    For this part, you should practise writing a letter or email, focus on advertising, apologising, describing, explaining, comparing, expressing opinions, justifying, persuading, recommending and suggesting.

    Part 2: Students are given four subjects to write about. One option is to write about one of the two set books that students have to read before the exam. Students must write a letter, an article, an essay, a review or a report.
    How many questions? 1 (you must write 120-180 words).
    For this part, you should practise writing the types of texts specified above.


  • Paper 3: USE OF ENGLISH (45 minutes) - 42 questions - 4 parts

    Part 1: A text with 12 gaps. Students must fill in the gaps by choosing one answer from four options.
    How many questions? 12.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary.

    Part 2: A text with 12 gaps. Students must fill in the gaps by writing a single word (no options given).
    How many questions? 12.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise vocabulary and word-building.

    Part 3: A text with 10 gaps. Each gap corresponds to a word. The stems of the missing words are given beside the text and must be changed to form the missing word.
    How many questions? 10.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary.

    Part 4: Eight questions, each with one sentence, a key word and then a response sentence with a gap. Using the key word given, students must complete the response sentence in 2-5 words so that it means the same as the first sentence.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get two marks for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise grammar and vocabulary.

    Try our exercises for the First Certificate in English


  • Paper 4: LISTENING (40 minutes) - 30 questions - 4 parts

    Part 1: Some short, unrelated recordings lasting 30 seconds each. Students must answer one multiple-choice question for each recording. Each question has three options.
    How many questions? 8.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for gist, function, detail, topic, purpose, situation, genre, place, attitude, opinion, relationship.

    Part 2: A monologue or a recording with interacting speakers lasting 3 minutes. Ten sentences with some gaps. Students must write one to three words to fill each gap.
    How many questions? 10.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for specific information.

    Part 3: Five short, related monologues lasting 30 seconds each. Students must answer five questions about the recording. Each question has six options.
    How many questions? 5.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for gist, function, detail, topic, purpose, situation, genre, place, attitude, opinion, relationship, agreement.

    Part 4: A monologue or a recording with interacting speakers lasting 3 minutes. Students must answer seven multiple-choice questions. Each question has three options.
    How many questions? 7.
    How many marks? You get one mark for each correct answer.
    For this part, you should practise listening for agreement, disagreement, stated and non-stated opinion.

    Try our Listening Comprehension exercises


  • Paper 5: SPEAKING (14 minutes per pair of candidates) - 4 parts

    Part 1 - Interview: Conversation between the examiner and each candidate. The examiner asks questions to each student in turn, about everyday life, work experience, interests or travel. Students are asked to talk about themselves.
    How long? 3 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise giving information about yourself, general interactional and social language.

    Part 2 - Long turn: The examiner gives each student a pair of pictures to look at. One student must talk about the pictures (or compare them) for 1 minute. Then the other student is asked a question and must talk for 20 seconds. The same process is repeated with the other candidate.
    How long? 4 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise organising a larger unit of discourse, comparing, describing, giving an opinion.

    Part 3 - Collaborative task: The examiner gives spoken instructions and written and visual material. Students must have a conversation between them.
    How long? 3 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise exhanging ideas, expressing and justifying an opinion, agreeing / disagreeing, suggesting, speculating, evaluating, reaching a decision through negotiation, listening and understanding other students.

    Part 4 -Discussion: The examiner asks questions about a topic and leads a discussion with them.
    How long? 4 minutes.
    For this part, you should practise expressing and justifying an opinion, agreeing / disagreeing, listening and understanding other students.
  • Summary of the FCE Exam

    Paper Content Time Marks
    Paper 1: Reading 3 parts
    30 questions
    1 hour 20%
    Paper 2: Writing 2 parts
    2 questions
    1 hour 20 minutes 20%
    Paper 3: Use of English 4 parts
    42 questions
    45 minutes 20%
    Paper 4: Listening 4 parts
    30 questions
    40 minutes 20%
    Paper 5: Speaking 4 parts 14 minutes 20%

     

    How is the exam marked?

    Each paper carries 20% of the total marks. 

    There are three Pass grades: A, B and C. A is the top mark. Students that reach these grades are awarded a certificate.

    There are two Fail grades: D and E. Students that get these grades will not receive a certificate.

     

    Try our exercises for the First Certificate in English

     



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