The FCE, commonly called “First”, is without doubt the best known of the Cambridge exams. It allows for official recognition of a superior intermediate level of English (level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
Who is the FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English) for?
The FCE is strongly recommended for anyone who plans to work in international business or to study and/or work overseas.
Generally speaking, the majority of institutions estimate that the FCE is for students who have studied English at school for a period of six to eight years.
In order to sit the FCE, your level of English must allow you:
- to understand the general meaning of texts treating both abstract and concrete subjects.
- to have a technical conversation in your area of speciality.
- to express yourself with ease and spontaneity in a manner that allows you to join in a normal conversation with native English speakers, while respecting the conventions and main forms of politeness and speed.
- to express yourself in a clear and detailed manner on a large number of subjects.
- to be able to develop a simple argument concerning a topical issue.
Preparation for FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English)
A preparatory course is often necessary in order to refresh or consolidate your current language level and to enable you to adapt to the particular demands of the FCE.
There are numerous course options- varying in intensity and duration – available to you in order to prepare for the FCE:
- It is generally necessary to take 12 or 10 weeks to prepare seriously and completely for the FCE.
- Intensive courses of three or four weeks’ duration are also available.
- The “At the teacher’s home” courses also offer a very intensive and “tailor-made” preparation option.
What does the FCE (Cambridge First Certificate in English) involve?
The FCE is made up of five papers:
Reading (Paper 1), 1 hour 15 minutes
This paper assesses your ability to read and understand texts taken from fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines. You are expected to be able to show understanding of gist, detail and text structure, and deduce meaning.
Writing (Paper 2), 1 hour 30 minutes
This paper assesses your ability to write non-specialised text types such as letters, articles, reports, compositions and reviews of 120-180 words covering a range of topics and target readers and also set texts.
Use of English (Paper 3), 1 hour 15 minutes
This paper requires you to demonstrate your knowledge and control of the language system by completing various tasks at text and sentence level. These include filling gaps, transforming words and phrases, and identifying errors in texts.
Listening (Paper 4), 40 minutes (approx.)
This paper assesses your ability to understand the meaning of spoken English, and to extract gist and meaning from spoken text. The texts are taken from a variety of text types including interviews, discussions, lectures and conversations.
Speaking (Paper 5), 14 minutes
The Speaking Test assesses your ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts. It contains four parts, including an interview section, individual long turns of about one minute, a collaborative task and a discussion. You are provided with stimulus material such as photographs and drawings. You will normally take the Speaking Test in pairs.
Like all the Cambridge exams, the FCE is recognised around the world. The FCE validates your English language skills in a precise, reliable and official manner. This exam’s excellent reputation means that your level is recognised by employers, schools and universities in Great Britain and in the majority of anglo-saxon countries. You can consult the list of institutions that recognise the FCE: www.cambridgeesol.org/recognition
Successful completion of this exam is officially recognised with a certificate that will be delivered to you by the ESOL exam centre of the University of Cambridge. Each year, over 270 000 people from over 100 different countries pass the FCE.
If evaluation of your level of English is necessary for your career or your studies, the FCE will be your first academic and professional “passport”.