First Certificate in English Exam. Why take Cambridge English: First (FCE)?


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Cambridge English: First is an upper-intermediate English language exam. You can use it to help you:

  • study in English at foundation or pathway level
  • work in an English-speaking environment
  • live independently in an English-speaking country.

Cambridge English: First is set at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Reaching the level means you can:

  • understand the main ideas of complex pieces of writing.
  • keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics, expressing opinions and presenting arguments
  • produce clear, detailed writing, expressing opinions and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different points of view.

The First Certificate in English (FCE) is one of the examinations available from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations in England. Its possession proves one’s adequacy in the English language, and its successful completion means that one is able to interact socially efficiently.The FCE examination falls in the grade A2, B1, B2 and C1. Its advantage is that its expiration date is throughout life.

The test consists of five sections:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Use of English
  • Listening
  • Speaking

Reading

In the reading section, the candidate is expected to answer a set of questions based on the context of three texts, which are approximately 350-700 words in length each. Types of questions include multiple choice, multiple matching or gap filling. This part of the exam lasts 60 minutes.

Writing

The Writing section consists of two parts. One is a mandatory task and the other is chosen from a set of four optional tasks. The first task is usually a transactional letter, which has a stricter format, and the second one’s type ranges from discursive compositions to articles, whose format is less stringent. One of the four options includes two questions based on a set of pre-set books. This part of the exam lasts for 80 minutes.

Use of English

The Use of English section includes four tasks, whose types vary, including multiple choice filling, open gap filling, word formation and key word transformation. The error correction task from previous years was removed for the 2008 syllabus. This part of the exam lasts for 45 minutes.

Listening

The Listening section consists of a set of questions based on four spoken texts. The texts vary from news announcements to speeches and dialogues. This section lasts approximately 40 minutes. Some think the Listening section should be done first.

Speaking

The Speaking section consists of a dialogue between you and another candidate. This section tests your ability in communicating. This section is divided into 4 parts. The first is a simple questionnaire between each candidate and the examiner. The second part includes a turn of 1 minute each of the candidates to describe the 2 photos given to them. The third part includes a dialogue only between the two candidates to describe together and talk about the photos given that all of them are related to only one topic. The fourth is similar to the third. This section lasts about 15 minutes (two candidates) and 17 minutes (when there are 3 candidates).

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Comparability

The First Certificate in English is a worldwide recognised language examination. Its level of difficulty is comparable with the TOEFL examination. Whereas the validity of the test results of the TOEFL expires after 2 years, the First Certificate in English has a lifelong validity. The First Certificate in English compares to a TOEFL of between 57 (B1) to 120 (C1).

Grading

The overall FCE grade is based on the total score gained in all five papers. Each paper is weighted to 40 marks. Therefore, the five FCE papers total 200 marks, after weighting. It is not necessary to achieve a satisfactory level in all five papers in order to pass the examination. Certificates are given to candidates who pass the examinations with grade A, B or C. A is the highest. D and E are failing grades. All candidates are sent a Statement of Results which includes a graphical profile of their performance in each paper and shows their relative performance in each one.

You have a lot of flexibility with Cambridge English: First. You can choose from:

  • over 1,100 exam centres internationally
  • different exam dates to suit you
  • paper-based or computer-based versions of the exam.

Once you have your Cambridge English certificate, you hold one of the most valuable English qualifications in the world. It’s an achievement you can be really proud of.

Your Cambridge English: First certificate will be accepted as a qualification in upper-intermediate English by thousands of leading businesses and educational institutions around the world. They include:

  • employers like American Express, Siemens and Procter & Gamble
  • universities and colleges such as the University of Bath and the Universidad de Salamanca.

Success story – Cambridge English: First (FCE

“I am working in an international environment which requires me to continuously improve my English. After the exam I got the motivation to study more English and then decided to enrol in an MBA conducted in English. The certificate helped me to complete my enrolment procedures as a proof of my English level.”

Phan Hoang Hoa
Cambridge English: First candidate

BEBC stock all relevant material to help you pass the FCE exam and you can find it on our website here @ http://www.bebc.co.uk

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