The Cambridge English: First (FCE) examination is for candidates who can use every day written and spoken English confidently at an upper-intermediate level.
FCE is the right exam for you if the following criteria apply to you:
- Your first language is not English.
- You can understand texts from a wide variety of sources.
- You can use English to make notes while someone is speaking in English.
- You can talk to people about a variety of topics.
- You can understand people talking in English on radio and television programmes.
FCE has five papers – Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. Each paper contributes 20% towards the final result.
Reading (Paper 1)
The paper has three parts, with a range of texts and accompanying comprehension tasks. The style and content of the texts is based on the types of material that candidates can expect to encounter in everyday situations and may include newspaper and magazine articles, reports, fiction, advertisements, correspondence, messages and informative material.
Candidates are expected to be able to understand the main points in a text, deduce meaning, identify text structure and extract specific details.
Writing (Paper 2)
1 hour 20 minutes
Candidates are required to write two texts: 120-150 words for Part 1 and 120-180 words for Part 2. The task in Part 1 is compulsory and takes the form of writing a transactional letter; Part 2 provides a choice of tasks. Each task gives candidates a clear context and an intended audience, and candidates are expected to take these into account in the content and form of their response. Two set texts will also be included, with one text-specific question on each.
Use of English (Paper 3)
Candidates complete a variety of tasks which test their ability to recognise and use grammatical structures and vocabulary. The tasks include multiple-choice cloze, open cloze, word formation and key word transformations.
Listening (Paper 4)
approximately 40 minutes
Candidates listen to a number of recorded texts such as commentaries, instructions, speeches, reports, conversations and more. They are not expected to be able to understand the recordings word for word; they are tested on their ability to understand the main points and extract details from the recordings.
Speaking (Paper 5)
approximately 14 minutes
Candidates are normally tested in pairs by two locally-based examiners on their ability to speak and interact with the interlocutor and the other candidate. Tasks include an interview section where candidates give basic personal information about themselves; an individual ‘long turn’, which lasts one minute; a collaborative task involving the two candidates; and a discussion of topics related to the previous task.
Exam Schedule and Fees
Cambridge English Language Assessment Exam
Click here for the latest exam schedule.
The Speaking paper is held within specified periods, and special arrangements are made at the discretion of CEFL Headquarters, taking into account the needs and conditions of CEFL Member Institutions.
Click here for more information.
With the exception of Paper 5, all exam scripts are returned to Cambridge English Language Assessment for marking and grading.
Five or six weeks after the exam, all candidates receive an enhanced Statement of Results, showing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ performance in each of the papers by means of a graphical profile. In addition, the statement will show a standardised score out of 100 to give candidates a clearer understanding of their exam performance so that they can determine how much additional preparation will be needed for CAE.
The overall grade is based on the candidate’s total score in all the papers. There are three Pass grades: A, B and C. The minimum successful performance which a candidate typically requires in order to achieve a Grade C corresponds to about 60% of the total marks. Successful candidates are awarded the Cambridge English Language Assessment FCE certificate approximately 10 weeks after the exam. This certification is valid for life. Candidates judged not to have reached the required standard for FCE receive the D or E Fail grades.
If you have any questions about your results, contact the CEFL centre where you registered for the exam.
Click here to contact the Cambridge English Language Assessment Centre Exams Manager for the actual exam dates, especially for Paper 5, and the latest fees if you are a walk-in/external candidate or feeder school representative.
Click here for further information on the CEFL FCE course.