FCE First Certificate in English

FCE is an exam for people who can use everyday written and spoken English at an upper-intermediate level. It is an ideal exam for people who want to use English for work or study purposes.

Who should take FCE?

  • Understand texts from a wide variety of sources
  • Use English to make notes while someone is speaking in English
  • Talk to people about a wide variety of topics
  • Understand people talking in English on radio or television programmes

Benefits of FCE:

  • FCE certificate is valid for life
  • FCE is truly international, recognized around the world for business and study purposes
  • Thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognize FCE as a qualification of upper-intermediate English
  • FCE gives you a pathway to higher qualifications such as the CAE and CPE
  • Because FCE focuses on the four communication skills- Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening- it will gives you the confidence to use English in real situations

FCE is at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). At this level you would expect the user to be able 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.

What is involved in taking the FCE exam?

FCE has five papers:

  • Reading: 1 hour
    You will need to be able to understand information in fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines.
  • Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes
    You will have to show you can produce two different pieces of writing such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report, a review or an essay.

  • Use of English: 45 minutes:

    Your use of English will be tested by tasks, which show how well you control your grammar and vocabulary.

  • Listening: 40 minutes

    You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including news programmes, speeches, stories and anecdotes and public announcements

  • Speaking: 14 minutes

    You will take the Speaking Test with another candidate or in a group of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates and by yourself.

As part of the Cambridge ESOL’s certificates, there is a wide range of support available for you to prepare for you exam. Many private language schools and universities in many countries offer preparation courses. There is also a wide range of materials including short booklets, information for candidates and sample papers, which include sound files for the listening parts of the test. There are also a wide range of books and other aids available for those wanting to take part in a FCE exam.


Each part of the exam accounts for 20% of the total marks Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the test centres. Results can also be accessed through the Cambridge ESOL Results Online website. There are three Pass grades, A, B and C- candidates reaching these grades are awarded a certificate. Candidates achieving grades D or E do not receive a certificate. Cambridge ESOL exam centres will be able to help candidates learn more about how to register, fees and the dates of the exam and any other arrangement. Entries cannot be made directly to Cambridge ESOL.

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