The Cambridge First Certificate in English examination, or FCE for short, is a qualification in English as a Foreign Language awarded by Cambridge ESOL. The current version of the exam was recently introduced for December 2008 and is sometimes referred to as the 'revised FCE'. It is a popular exam with over 250,000 candidates per year.
FCE is one of five 'Main Suite' examinations offered by Cambridge ESOL. The level of FCE is described as Intermediate. There are two levels before it (KET and PET) and two levels after it (CAE and CPE).
Each part of the exam is called "paper" and consists of several exercises.
Let's have a look at paper
|Part||Task type||Tests ability to||Questions|
|1. Multiple choice||A text followed by multiple-choice questions with four options: A, B, C or D.||understand detail, opinion, gist, attitiude, meaning, tone, purpose and main ideas||8|
|2. Gapped text||A text with missing sentences; candidates choose the sentence order from a jumbled list.||understand text organisation (how language achieves cohesion and coherence)||7|
|3. Multiple matching||One or several texts with prompt questions; candidates match the prompt to the relevant section of the text(s).||understand specific information, detail, opinion and attitude||15|
You can do these exercises online:
Paper 2: Writing
In this part of the test, you'll have to write two compositions. The type of writing pieces your are expected to produce are summarised here:(taken from http://www.flo-joe.co.uk)
|Part||Task type||Tests ability to||Word length|
|1. Compulsory task||Read input information (including adverts, extracts from letters, emails, schedules, etc. of up to 160 words) and write a Letter or Email.||make appropriate use of the input, write for a specific purpose and audience, with accurate language control||120-150|
|2. Choice of one out of five tasks.||2: (Questions 2-4) Candidates write one of the following: Article, Essay, Letter, Report, Review or Story. |
(Question 5. 2 options) Candidates write one of the following, based on one of the set reading texts: Article, Essay, Letter, Report, Review
Note: Question 5 has two options - 5a and 5b. Visit the FCE section of our FAQs page for details of this year's set texts.
|write for a specific purpose and audience, with accurate language control||120|
As you'll have to write at least one letter, let's revise some of the expressions you can use. Visit this site http://www.flo-joe.co.uk/fce/students/writing/express/index.htm and do the exercises.
Paper 3: Use of English
This part takes 45 minutes and consists of 5 exercises. You can practise some of the exercises by following these links
http://www.ompersonal.com.ar/firstcertificate2/exercises/activity1.htm (press the correction bottom at the beginning of the exercise to check how well you've done)
|Part||Task type||Task focus||Questions|
|1. Multiple choice||A text with twelve gaps. Candidates choose the correct missing words by answering twelve multiple-choice questions with four options.||Collocation, phrasal verbs, idioms, phrases||12|
|2. Open cloze||A text with twelve gaps. Candidates fill in the missing words.||Grammatical items||12|
|3. Word formation||A text with ten gaps. Candidates form the missing words from the given stem words.||Prefixes and suffixes, compound words||10|
|4. Key word transformations||Eight separate questions, each containing a lead-in sentence, followed by a 'key word' and a second (gapped) sentence. Candidates complete the second sentence in two to five words, and must include the 'key word'.||Grammar and vocabulary||8|
Paper 4: Listening
This part consists of 4 parts and takes about 40 minutes:
1. Multiple Choice A series of extracts with one or more speakers lasting around 30 seconds each. Candidates answer one multiple choice question per extract, each with three options: A, B or C. pick out general meaning specific information, understand attitude and/or events from the text. (8 minutes)
2. Sentence completion A three-minute monologue or dialogue. Candidates fill in the gaps to complete the sentences. pick out general meaning or specific information from the text. (10 minutes)
3. Multiple matching A series of related monologues lasting around 30 seconds each. Candidates match the extract to the correct option from a list of six. pick out general meaning specific information, understand attitude and/or events from the text. (5 minutes)
4. Multiple choice A three-minute monologue or dialogue. Candidates answer multiple choice questions with 3 options: A, B or C. pick out general meaning or specific information from the text.( 7 minutes)
Practise by following this link:
This part takes about 15 minutes and is carried out in pairs.
|Part||Task type||Tests ability to||Time|
|1. Conversation between Interlocutor and each candidate||Candidates take it in turns to answer spoken questions that focus on interactional and social language.||give personal information and talk about past, present and future experiences||3 minutes|
|2. Individual 'long turn' (1 minute) and response from second candidate (20 seconds)||Each candidate is given a pair of photographs and asked to talk about them, using the prompt questions on the page. The second candidate gives a brief response. Tasks focus on: comparing, describing and expressing opinions.||speak for a long turn using appropriate language||1 minute/20 seconds|
|3. Two-way conversation between candidates||Candidates are given spoken instructions, along with visual and written prompts, and work on a decision-making task. The focus is on sustaining the interaction by: sharing ideas, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing, suggesting, speculating, evaluating and negotiating to reach a decision.||give opinions, agree & disagree, make suggestions etc; take turns||3 minutes|
|4. Discussion related to the task in Part 3||Candidates answer spoken questions that focus on: expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing.||give and justify opinions, agree & disagree, take turns and explore topics||4 minutes|