Cambridge FCE B2 exam

The First Certificate in English (FCE) is an exam to assess the knowledge of candidates with an intermediate or high level of English. It is the one that follows the Preliminary (PET), and it is also one of the most popular, since it is usually the minimum requirement of universities in English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. It has its equivalent to B2, according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

It is used to assess your communication skills in different contexts, both daily, academic, or work, and it is one more step for other higher-level Cambridge English assessments.

The FCE is responsible for examining your level of fluency in English, both in conversations, reading and writing various types of texts, as well as your ability to express and defend points of view on various topics both in everyday situations and in professional settings.

The candidate is intended to show his ability to express himself not only fluently but also naturally.

FCE consists of the following parts

The FCE examines the four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Likewise, it is made up of four parts, with a certain time, tasks and activities:

- Reading Comprehension (75 minutes) : focuses on grammar and vocabulary, made up of 52 multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank and column relationship questions.

- Written expression (80 minutes) : you are asked to write two texts, between 140 and 190 words; the first is an essay; the second, a letter, article or review.

- Listening comprehension (40 minutes) : short speeches, dialogues or messages in English should be listened to, and questions related to these audios should be answered. The recordings are played twice and this part is made up of 30 questions.

- Oral expression (14 minutes) : this section must be done in pairs, and sometimes on different days from the previous parts of the test depending on the exam center. In the oral test, there are four subsections: in the first two, you speak alone, and in the other two, with your partner or the other candidate. In this part, there are two examiners.

How is the FCE evaluated?

The FCE score, like all Cambridge English exams, is assessed on a scale ranging from 140 to 190 points. If you reach 160 points or more, you are considered "fit", which will give you the Cambridge First Certificate , corresponding to level B2 of the CEFR. And if you get 180 points or more, you are awarded the Cambridge First Certificate corresponding to level C1. 

The first part of the exam (Reading Comprehension) gives 40% of the grade.

The second, third and fourth (written expression, listening comprehension, oral expression) are 20% each.

The evaluation results are broken down according to the four language skills to be evaluated, and an overall result is also given, as well as the one corresponding to the CEFR. The FCE certificate is valid for life.

Tips to prepare for the First Certificate in English exam

Taking an exam always generates some expectation, nervousness, and even some stress. However, to avoid bad times it is best to prepare very well. Here are some tips so that you can arrive with a good foundation for the exam.

-  First, find a date when you think you will have enough time to prepare for your exam without setbacks. It can be one, two or three months in advance. This will help you make a schedule and progressively study each day.

 Download the sample exams that are available on the Cambridge Assessment English website, as well as various educational institutions that offer simulators of this assessment. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the format of the exams, it is an important part to pass them successfully.

-  For the Speaking phase, prepare some common phrases and key vocabulary, you can memorize some connectors or simple sentences, as well as the phrasal verbs that shape your intervention, this part of the exam is sometimes difficult for the candidates.

-  The organization of study materials is essential for all preparation for an exam. Remember to separate the notes or bibliographic material for each part of the FCE.

What books should I consult for the FCE exam?

There are books that are the  official guides for  Cambridge exams , such as the one corresponding to the FCE:  Objective First for Spanish Speakers Self-Study Pack .

If you want to strengthen your  grammar and vocabulary, Grammar and Vocabulary for First and First for Schools is the right book.

Another very helpful bibliographic material is the Cambridge First Certificate in English. For Updated Exam, as it summarizes versions of previous FCE exams, it will help you to do mock exams and have good preparation, and familiarize yourself with the exam format.

In addition to the "official" books, it  is also highly recommended to read other texts or books and spend at least 10 minutes a day reading three additional books on various topics in English. They can be articles on a topic of your interest, stories, novels, or even the news in the newspapers.

Now that you know what the FCE is about, we can only wish you great success. But, before saying goodbye, we must clarify that, although the First Certificate in English (FCE) does not have an expiration date, it is very likely that some universities or organizations will request this recent certificate or with a maximum of two years old . 

Below you can check the dates and places available to do it here