First (FCE)

WHAT IS FCE?

Cambridge English: First is an upper intermediate level exam and the third level of the University of Cambridge exams in general English. This exam is set at Level B2 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for modern languages.

WHO IS THE FCE EXAM FOR AND WHY SHOULD I TAKE IT?

The FCE exam is suitable for learners who can communicate for practical everyday purposes such as study and business. Candidates should have a wide range of vocabulary and be able to study or work in an English-speaking environment and cope easily as a tourist.

FCE is useful preparation for anyone who wishes to take CAE and CPE at a later stage, and valuable for anyone who wants to work or study abroad.

An FCE certificate has no expiration date. However, some institutions have their own language requirements or policies on how recent they require exam results to be. They may ask you for evidence that you have maintained or improved your level of English since you took your exam. Speak to the institution you are applying to and confirm their individual requirements.

FCE is a truly international certificate, recognised around the world for business and study purposes. Thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise FCE as an Upper Intermediate qualification in English.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT OF THE EXAM?

FCE has 4 papers:

Reading and Use of English: 1 hour 15 minutes

You will need to be able to understand information in fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines. Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you control your grammar and vocabulary.

Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes

You will have to show you can produce two different pieces of writing such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report, a review or an essay.

Listening: 40 minutes

You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including news programmes, speeches, stories and anecdotes and public announcements.

Speaking: 14 minutes

You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in a group of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates, and by yourself.

YOUR RESULT

Reading & Use of English carries 40% and the rest of the tests each carry 20% of the total mark.

Candidates can access their results through the University of Cambridge results website. For paper-based exams, these will be available after 4 to 6 weeks. For computer-based exams, they will be available after 2 to 3 weeks.

From 2015, results will be reported on the new Cambridge English Scale (replacing the candidate profile and standardised scores). You will receive a separate score for each of the five skills (reading, use of English, writing, listening and speaking). These scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam.

There are three Pass grades – A (score between 180 and 190), B (score between 175 and 179), C (score between 160 and 174) – and two Fail grades – Council of Europe Level B1 (140 and 159) and Not Reported (139 and below).

There is no minimum pass mark for individual papers. The grade is based on the total score of all 5 papers.

Certificates are awarded to candidates who score 140 and above and are despatched approximately 10 days after the results release window has ended. For further information about the scores, please visit the Cambridge English website.