Cambridge English: First, commonly known as First Certificate in English (FCE) is an exam for people who need to prove they can use everyday written and spoken English at an upper-intermediate level for work or study purposes.
Cambridge English: First is set at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. B2 is the level of English needed to:
- start working in an English speaking environment
- study at an upper intermediate level - such as foundation or pathway courses
It shows that you are becoming skilled in English.
For example, at B2 level typical users can be expected to:
- understand the main ideas of complex pieces of writing
- keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics, expressing opinions and presenting arguments
- produce clear, detailed writing, expressing opinions and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different points of view.
Preparing for Cambridge English: First will give you these kinds of practical language skills.
- Cambridge English: First is a truly international exam, recognised by thousands of industrial, administrative and service-based employers as a qualification in upper-intermediate English.
- It is also accepted by a wide range of educational institutions for study purposes.
- Companies such as American Express, Agfa-Gevaert GmbH, Siemens and Procter & Gamble all recognise the value of Cambridge English: First in their overseas offices.
Format of the exam
Cambridge English: First has five papers:
Reading: 1 hour
You will need to demonstrate ability to read and understand information in fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines.
Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes
You will have to produce two different pieces of writing such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report, a review or an essay.
Use of English: 45 minutes
You will be tested on how well you control your grammar and vocabulary.
Listening: 40 minutes
You will 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 one or two other candidates, and you will be required to demonstrate different types of speaking, including by yourself and in discussion with the examiner and other candidates.
Cambridge English: First gives detailed, meaningful results. All candidates receive a Statement of Results. Candidates whose performance ranges between CEFR Levels C1 and B1 will also receive a certificate.
Statement of Results
This document outlines:
- Your candidate result. This result is based on your total score in all five papers.
- A graphical display of your performance in each paper (shown against the scale Exceptional – Good – Borderline – Weak).
- A standardised score out of 100 which allows you to see exactly how you performed. It has set values for each grade, allowing comparison across sessions of the exam.
- Cambridge English: First – Level C1
Exceptional candidates sometimes show ability beyond B2 level. If you achieve a grade A in your exam, you will receive the First Certificate in English stating that you demonstrated ability at Level C1.
- Cambridge English: First – Level B2
If you achieve grade B or C in your exam, you will be awarded the First Certificate in English at Level B2.
- Level B1 Certificate
If your performance is below Level B2, but falls within Level B1, we will recognise your achievement with a Cambridge English certificate stating that you demonstrated ability at B1 level.