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 basic purpose this exam fulfills is showing that the candidate is comfortable and fluent enough in a totally 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. A lot of research is undergone for making the test and its result fair and making the material relevant to your linguistic needs.

Why Should You Bother Taking FCE Exam? 

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


1. Worldwide Recognition 

If you’re a student or an employer and are currently planning on getting admission or working overseas, it’s a brilliant way to let yourself be recognized as having enough English skills to study or work there. Wherever you go, FCE will be highly respected, and nobody would 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 really covers all aspects of your general English speaking as well. It covers everything from reading, writing, and all the way to listening and speaking. So you can polish your linguistics with a great deal! And if you want to continue further 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 take them again could be frustrating.

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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 one just referred to as FCE. However, the syllabus, format, and level of difficulty of both the exams are entirely the same, and there is no difference in the awarded certificate as well. The format of the exam is given below.

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


1. Reading

This section of the FCE Exam consists of a total of 7 parts having 52 questions in total. 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 a report. Both the parts should be 140-190 words each.


3. Listening 

Has typically four parts divided into further 30 questions where 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 between one another and are tested if they can communicate effectively.


How Do You Prepare? 

As it already has been 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 re-appearing hence wasting your fortune.

Get to know about everything that will appear on the exam day, so you know what to expect prior to 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 in it 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 and you need to focus individually on all the sections in the exams and get into the details preparing in the best possible ways. Some of the tips are given below.

For the first section of reading, you should practice vocabulary and grammar in depth. You should clearly know terms like idioms, phrasal verbs, and 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 given and knowing how to extract targeted information from a piece of writing.

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 common formats of writing official letters and emails.

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

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


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 that your English skills are excellent and higher than FCE (B2) level while Grade B or C means that you passed on 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.


I hope that this article on FCE Exam was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!