General Exam Information

General Exam Information


FCE = B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)


Expectations at B2 LEVEL

At B2, according to the CEFR, users are expected to:

  • ·         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.
  • In order to reach B2 level, you are expected to have studied approximately 500-600 hours of English from beginner level. 



Overview of the FCE exam


There are two version of the FCE exam available to students: Cambridge English: First and Cambridge English: First for Schools. They are both identical in format and level but the exam for schools is particularly targeted at the interests and experience of younger learners. 


Cambridge English: First will be updated in 2015. Therefore it is important that you become familiar with the new format after this time.   


At present, there are 5 papers. Here’s a brief overview of the papers:







3 parts / 30 questions

1 hour



2 parts / 2 questions

1 hour 20


Use of English

4 parts / 42 questions

45 minutes



4 parts / 30 questions

40 minutes (approx.)



4 parts

14 minutes



Once you have taken the FCE and passed, it is important to note that Cambridge English First certificates do not expire. The certificate is recognised around the world and can be used for business and study purposes. 


Where to take the FCE exam

There are around 2700 centres around the wold which offer Cambridge English exams. If you want to take the FCE exam, then you should find a centre near you and register to take the exam. Look on the University of Cambridge, FCE website.   


Exam dates

Exams take place every month of the year. The exam can be paper-based or computer-based (choosing one or the other will affect the date you take the exam).


You take the Reading, Writing, Use of English and Listening papers on the same day.


The centre you register with will arrange the date of your speaking test. Generally, you take the Speaking test a few days before or after the other papers.  


In the exam

Please note that you are not allowed to use a dictionary during the exam. 

You must write in pen and you are not allowed to use correction fluid. 

If you use contracted forms when writing, then they will count as the number of words they would be if they were not contracted. For example, I’m = two words. 



You will receive a statement of results which shows:

  • ·         Your result based on the total you receive from all 5 papers.
  • ·         A display of your performance in each paper (Exceptional – Borderline – Weak)
  • ·         A score out of 100 which has set values for each grade

Please note that you don’t have to pass all of the components/papers in order to pass the exam. In fact, it is not possible to pass or fail an individual paper. The final mark is based on the aggregate score of all of the papers. Therefore, a candidate that does not score well on one paper, can compensate by performing well on another. 


For more information, please visit the official Cambridge Website:  


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