First Certificate in English (FCE), also known in some places as Cambridge English: First or B2 First, is an English language examination conducted by the Cambridge Assessment English. The primary purpose this exam fulfils is to show that the candidate is comfortable and fluent enough in an English-speaking environment, whether it be work or study, that he or she can successfully transmit and receive messages in the said language.

The exam has worldwide recognition in the fields like commerce and industry, and it takes around 500 hours on average for a regular secondary school student to prepare for it. Much research is done to make the test and its result fair and make the material relevant to your linguistic needs.

Why Should You Bother Taking B2 First (FCE) Exam? 

Are you confused about taking the FCE exam and don’t know whether it will be worth your time and benefit you in your professional world? Well, we’ve got you covered; let’s look at some reasons you should consider taking the exam.

1. Worldwide Recognition 

Suppose you’re a student or an employer currently planning on getting admission or working overseas. In that case, it’s a brilliant way to recognise yourself as having enough English skills to study or work there. Wherever you go, FCE will be highly respected, and nobody will think of you as lacking communication skills.

2. Flexible Study Routine

Learning a new language can be pretty tough, especially if you’re a high school student having tough schedules and already have the burden of tons of subjects on your shoulders. This is where the schedules of the FCE exam shine! They are happening throughout the year, and you’re the one with the steering! Go as slow as you like and take the exams whenever the time suits you.

3. Comprehensive Study

 FCE is not just your ticket to studying or working abroad; rather it’s something that covers all aspects of your general English speaking as well. It covers everything from reading, writing, listening and speaking. So you can polish your linguistics with a great deal! And if you want to continue after the FCE, the choice is yours. You can continue deeper with courses like the Cambridge Advanced English Exam too!

4. Lifetime Recognition 

Unlike other English Proficiency exams like IELTS and TOEFL, FCE doesn’t come with an expiry date, and you get the tag for life. This is an important aspect that makes it stand out from others as such tests are quite expensive and take quite a time to prepare, so having to retake them could be frustrating.

 Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

B2 First (FCE) Exam Overview

FCE is offered in two versions, one mainly targeting the interests and experiences of school-aged students, called the FCE for Schools, and the other just referred to as FCE. However, the syllabus, format, and difficulty level of both exams are entirely the same, and there is no difference in the awarded certificate. The format of the exam is given below.

The exam comprises four major parts: reading, writing, listening, and speaking; details are as follows.

1. Reading

This section of the FCE Exam consists of a total of 7 parts, having 52 questions. Candidates are tested to see how well they can deal with usual things like fiction, novels, newspapers, and magazines. Vocabulary and grammatical mistakes of students are also analyzed.

2. Writing 

Based on two parts, one where the candidate has to write an essay, and in the other, they have to opt one from a letter, email, article, or report. Both parts should be 140-190 words each.

3. Listening 

It typically has four parts divided into 30 questions. Candidates are made to hear some usual conversations, TV shows, or news and are tested if they can follow and understand the material thoroughly.

4. Speaking

 Based on four parts, candidates are made to be indulged in conversations with one another and are tested if they can communicate effectively.

How Do You Prepare? 

As mentioned before, on average, a candidate takes around 500 hours to complete the preparation for the FCE exam; hence you should never take this lightly and be fully prepared in advance to keep yourself from reappearing hence wasting your fortune.

Get to know about everything that will appear on the exam day so you know what to expect before the exam day. Do a lot of past papers and keep track of time while preparing for specific sections. Start using English in your daily life and involve it in your everyday tasks like having conversations with people around you, listening to English songs, and watching Hollywood movies.

However, doing all this and even doing the past papers is not enough to pass the FCE exam. You need to focus individually on all the sections in the exams and get into the details of preparing in the best possible ways. Some of the tips are given below.

First section

You should practice vocabulary and grammar in depth. You should know terms like idioms, phrasal verbs, shades of meanings, etc. When reading newspapers & magazines, you should know the tone, purpose, and idea of the writer while understanding the structure and development of the text and knowing how to extract targeted information from a piece of writing.

Second section

The second section of the FCE Exam requires in-depth knowledge of using English the way you want. You should confidently represent your idea, express yourself easily while justifying your hypotheses and opinions, and know the standard formats of writing official letters and emails.

To ace the listening exam, you should identify the tone and attitude and extract the real meaning behind the speaker’s words. You should also be able to extract the details and differentiate between the opinions and facts of the speaker.

Prepare how to express yourself when you’re face to face with someone. Your ideas and opinions about a specific topic should be visible to the listener. Giving out information and justifying what you speak is what you should put focus on.

Getting The Results

On the result day, usually, four to six weeks after the test, you would be awarded your Statement of Results online, where you will be told about your overall grade and the individual grades you earned in all four sections.

The overall result is given out in the form of grades. Grade-A means your English skills are excellent and higher than FCE (B2) level, while Grade B or C means you passed on the B2 level. However, if you’re performance is worse but is still above B1, you are awarded a Cambridge English Certificate showing that your ability is at B1 level.


We hope this article on B2 First (FCE) Exam was helpful. Make sure also to check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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