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What is the FCE Exam, who should take it, and what do you have to do in the exam?

What is the FCE Exam?

FCE stands for First Certificate in English and is the B2 exam from Cambridge. It is one level up from PET and one level below CAE.

Who is the exam for?

The exam is for students of B2 level and is a good option for people wanting to attend an English speaking university (always check which certificates are accepted by the university).

What do you have to do?

The test is divided into 4 parts and these are:

  • Reading and Use of English (seven parts - 75 minutes)

There are 7 parts in the FCE exam paper. Parts 1, 5, 6 and 7 are 'Reading' and parts 2, 3 and 4 are 'Use of English.

  • Writing (two parts- 80 minutes)

The Writing section of the exam has 2 parts. The first part is a 140-190 word essay. The structure of the essay is key in passing this section of the exam. In the second part, you have 3 options from either: an article, a review, a report, an email, and you have to write 140-190 words about one of these.

  • Listening (four parts- 40 minutes)

The Listening section consists of 4 parts. Some test your general understanding of conversations, speeches, presentations etc. while others test your ability to find specific information.

  • Speaking

The Speaking section has 4 parts. The first part is a general chat between yourself and the examiner - they typically ask questions about your family, your hobbies etc. In the second part, you have to talk for one minute about the similarities and differences between the two photos while answering a question about them. In the third part you have to discuss a topic with your partner(s) for 2/3 minutes and then answer a more specific question related to that topic for 1 minute (again with your partner). In the fourth part, the examiner asks you and your partner more questions....generally related to the topic in part 3.

A full breakdown of the test can be found by clicking on the link to the Cambridge website below:

What are some problems in preparing for FCE?

Every student is different so students will have different issues. A common question is which FCE book should I buy? While some good general books are available they are general so lack the detail the many students need. Common problems are with structuring writing, working well in pairs to succeed in the speaking exam and struggling with the Use of English section of the paper. If you are struggling with any part of the FCE exam and would like full, guided support, email to organise a consultation and set up your study program.

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