Updated for January 2015
To make sure exams are up to date with the latest research in language learning and teaching, Cambridge English Language Assessment Centre reviews them regularly. The revision of Cambridge English: First (FCE) is now complete commenced use in January 2015. We’ve also introduced changes to the way results are reported. The Cambridge English Scale is able to give you clearer and more detailed information about your performance, both overall and in the individual elements of the exam.
Here are the main changes to the Cambridge English: First exam that started in January 2015:
Since January 2015, Cambridge English: First results have been reported on the new Cambridge English Scale (replacing the previous candidate profile and standardised scores). The results given on the Cambridge English Scale give you a detailed understanding of your performance. You receive a separate score for each of the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and use of English. These scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam. All results for Cambridge English exams are reported on the same scale, so it is also easy to measure progress from one exam to another.
Cambridge English: First is for learners who have an upper-intermediate level of English, at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It is recognised worldwide by thousands of employers, as well as colleges and universities, as proof that you can use every day written and spoken English for work or study purposes.
If you answered positively to these questions, or if you are improving in the above mentioned competences, then the FCE exam is the right one for you.
Cambridge English Language Assessment is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking FCE:
‘I am working in an international environment which requires me to continuously improve my English. To pass the FCE at Grade B is certainly a commitment to that. After the exam I got the motivation to study more English and then decided to enrol in an MBA, conducted in English.’
Phan Hoang Hoa — FCE candidate
‘The course was so useful for me. My English writing and reading is much better and when I go back to my country it will be helpful for getting a new job.’
Maria Fernandez Rechsteiner — FCE Candidate
FCE Cambridge English Advanced is at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which was also consulted by Cambridge English Language Assessment. This framework uses six levels to describe language competence ranging from A1 to C2. Sentences beginning with “Can Do” are used to characterise these levels more closely, reflecting real language skills.
For example, level B2 users are expected to:
During your preparatory course for the FCE exam, you will attain all the above mentioned language competences.
Reading and Use of English: 1 hour 15 minutes (40% of total marks)
This part tests your reading skills and your knowledge as well as use of vocabulary and grammar. You will be assessed on how well you can use a range of vocabulary and grammar and a range of reading skills, including reading for detail, understanding opinions and feelings, understanding how a text is organised and understanding the main idea.
Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes (20% of total marks)
The Writing paper has two parts. The first is compulsory, and you must write a letter or email which responds to a text and some notes. Then you have a choice of five questions, and you must choose one. Two of the questions are always about a set text (a story or film), which you can read or watch and prepare before the exam.
Listening: 40 minutes (20% of total marks)
This paper tests different real-life listening skills, such as listening for information, opinion or detail, or listening for the general meaning of the whole text.
Speaking: 14 minutes (20% of total marks)
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.
As with all of Cambridge English Language Assessment certificates, there is a lot of support to help you prepare for your exam.
Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge English Language Assessment for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the test centres.
If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) it may be possible to ask for Special Arrangements to be made when taking the exam.