The First Certificate in English or FCE (First Certificate in English) is a certificate of general knowledge of the English language given by the University of Cambridge in case the exam of the same name is passed.
In the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (which divides the knowledge of a language into six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) the FCE is at level B2, that is to the fourth level over six. By importance comes the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), penultimate livello, and then the Preliminary English Test (PET). It is part of the Cambridge in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) exams, that is Cambridge in English for speakers of foreign languages.
As for all other Cambridge exams, it qualifies it, once it is achieved, it is not revoked anymore. The speaker level that the FCE has achieved is upper-intermediate (over-itermedio). It is, as the name implies, the first certificate of proficiency in the English language and normally acts as preparation for the next two exams, the Certificate in Advanced English and the Certificate of Proficiency in English.
The exam has 5 parts:
- Reading (1 hour)
- Writing (1 hour and 20 minutes)
- Use of English (45 minutes)
- Listening (approx 40 minutes)
- Speaking (14 minutes per couple)
Each section contributes 20% of the final grade. There are three promotion grades (A, B and C). Candidates who obtain grade D or E do not pass the exam. It is not obligatory to obtain the sufficiency in each one of the five parts to obtain the diploma.
The Reading test (in Spanish: Reading) is divided into three parts:
- Multiple choice (8 terminations): in this part you have to answer the multiple answer questions that have to do with a track;
- Gapped text (7 endings): of text given in this test some steps have to be removed, choosing from a list but containing one more step with respect to those that must be used;
- Multiple matching for short texts (15 endings): a track is divided into more paragraphs and the student has to point, next to the questions posed, to which the paragraph refers.
The Writing test (in Spanish: writing) is divided into two parts:
- Compulsory (limit words: 120-150): the candidate, in this part of the test has to write a composition of a type chosen by the University of Cambridge, for that exam session, between a formal letter and an informal one .;
- Optional (limit words: 120-180): the candidate has to write a chosen composition of a newspaper article, argumentative text, informal letter, letter to request a job, report, fantasy story (in each examination session the University of Cambdrige selection 3 among the previous types of compositions) or analysis of a book of the proposed cast.
Use of English
The Use of English test (in Spanish: use of English) is divided into four parts:
- Multiple-choice cloze (12 terminations): this part consists of completing a track from which 12 words have been removed. For each empty space, the candidate has to choose the exact word among the 4 different options;
- Cloze (12 endings): in the proposed track 12 words are missing that the student has to insert;
- Word building (10 terminations): consists of inserting words that have been removed from the proposed text, using the derivatives of the given words;
- Key word transformation (8 terminations): the candidate has to rewrite each given sentence in another with simile, using from 2 to 5 words, following the guidelines already written.
The Listening test (in Spanish: Listen) is divided into four parts:
- Multiple choice (8 terminations): the candidate has to listen to 8 conversations and answer 8 multiple-choice questions;
- Note taking or blank filling (10 terminations): this part of the exercise consists of writing short notes in the blanks of the text that have to do with the track heard during this test;
- Multiple matching (5 terminations): the student has to listen to five speeches and choose from a list of 6 descriptions (one more, therefore, of those to be used), the one that is best adapted to each speech heard;
- Three-options multiple-choice questions (7 terminations): the candidate must listen to a clue and answer 7 multiple-answer questions.
The Speaking test (in Spanish: Discussion) is divided into four parts:
- Interview (duration: plus or minus 3 minutes): the candidate has to answer personal questions made by the person who is examining him;
- Individual long turn (duration: plus or minus 4 minutes): each one of the candidates who take the exam has to analyze in two minutes or more two color images and then compare the images;
- Two-way collaborative task (duration: plus or minus 3 minutes): the two students have to work as a couple making decisions based on the visual stimuli;
- Three-way discussion (duration: plus or minus 4 minutes): the previous discussion is continued with the examiner.
- The FCE is composed of 5 tests. Each test counts 40 points. Total score: 200 points. There are five possible notes for the FCE: A, B and C indicate that the candidate has been promoted (the candidate has obtained 60% or more of the total score, the A grade is the best)
- D and E indicate that the candidate has been rejected.
- The note is based on the overall score made by the candidate in all tests.
Costs – Venues
The cost to sustain this test varies from center to center. To find out where the venues are, visit the site www.cambridgeesol.org