Cambridge English: First

Cambridge English: First (First Certificate in English (FCE)) is a qualification offered by Cambridge University for learners of English as second language. It is intended for students of an Upper Intermediate (CEFR B2 Level) to Advanced level of English who normally have studied the language for at least 5 years. FCE is currently the most popular certificate for learners of English and the exam can be sat in most countries around the world. This book aims to provide a guide to students who plan on taking this exam. It will not deal directly with English grammar or vocabulary but instead will concentrate on the background to the exam and what is required for each paper.

For grammar, vocabulary and structure of the English language see the English or English as an Additional Language Wikibooks.

What is FCE?

What are the papers of the FCE exam?

There are 4 papers in the FCE exam. Before sitting the exams, you should find out what is expected of you by practising questions on the Internet or enrolling in a course.

Paper 1 - Reading and Use of English (1 hour 15 min)

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, Wales

The Reading and Use of English paper consists of 7 parts:

  1. Part 1 - Multiple choice
  2. Part 2- Gap-fill
  3. Part 3 - Gap-fill
  4. Part 4 - Key Word Transformations
  5. Part 5 - Multiple choice reading
  6. Part 6 - Paragraph matching
  7. Part 7 - Matching

Paper 2 - Writing (1 hour 20 min)

The Writing paper consists of 2 parts:

  1. Part 1 - Essay (compulsory)
  2. Part 2 - One writing task from a choice of three

Paper 3 - Listening (40 min)

The Listening paper consists of 4 parts:

  1. Part 1 - Multiple choice
  2. Part 2 - Note taking / sentence completion
  3. Part 3 - Multiple matching
  4. Part 4 - Choosing from 2 or 3 answers

Paper 4 - Speaking

The Speaking paper consists of 4 parts:

  1. Part 1 - Interview
  2. Part 2 - Individual long turn task
  3. Part 3 - Collaborative task
  4. Part 4 - Discussion


Candidates who pass Cambridge English: First receive either a B1 Level certificate, a C, a B or an A. Grades C-A are considered to be real passes. Grades C and B are passes at Cambridge English: First level (CEFR B2) while an A grade is equivalent to C1 level.

External Resources

  • RoPeCast - A biweekly podcast for advanced learners of English. Culture, Language, Learning tips.

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