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The Cambridge First Certificate Examination in English has four papers:

1. Reading and Use of English
2. Speaking
3. Writing
4. Listening

The Reading and Use of English paper is worth 40% of the marks, and each of the other papers is worth 20%. This means that if you get a bad mark in one paper, it is still possible to pass the exam by getting an above average mark in another paper.

The pass grades are ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. The fail grades are ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘U’. ‘U’ stands for ‘unclassified’, and it either means that your English is very bad, or you overslept, stayed in bed and forgot to take the exam.


There are seven parts in this paper. For parts 1 to 4 you read texts which have grammar and vocabulary questions. There are also separate exercises on grammar and vocabulary.

For parts 5 to 7, you read different texts and answer comprehension questions.

There are 52 questions in total and you have 1 hour and 15 minutes to do this part of the exam.

Here are the different parts:-

Use of English

Part 1) Multiple-choice cloze.

A text with 8 gaps. You have to choose which is the best word for the gap from a selection of four words. The focus here is mainly on vocabulary (words with meaning like nouns, verbs and phrasal verbs, idioms, adjectives, adverbs, fixed phrases etc).

Part 2) Open cloze.

Similar to multiple-choice cloze, but without the choice. 8 gaps in a text, and you have to think of a word to fill the gap. This mainly tests grammar but there could be some missing vocabulary too (think about auxiliary verbs, articles ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’, prepositions, phrasal verb particles, conjunctions etc).

Part 3) Word formation.

Here you have a text with 8 gaps. You are given a root word and you have to change it to a verb, adjective, adverb etc. in order to complete the text. This tests vocabulary, particularly prefixes, suffixes and word changes.

Part 4) 'Key' word transformations.

There are 6 of these and you have to make a sentence which means the same as the one before, using the ‘key’ word which is given in the question. You must complete the sentence using two to five words, including the given ‘key’ word. This part tests grammar, vocabulary and collocation.


Part 5) Multiple Choice

You read a text and answer 6 multiple-choice questions. Each question has 4 options.

Part 6) Gapped Text

Deciding where sentences or paragraphs belong in a text. The sentences, or paragraphs, have been removed, and you have to put them back again in the correct place. There are 6 questions in this part.

Part 7) Multiple Matching

There is text or several short texts, preceded by multiple-matching questions. You must match a prompt to elements in the text. There are 10 questions in this part.

You must answer two questions in this paper. You have one hour and twenty minutes, and you are asked to write between 140 and 190 words for each question.

The paper is divided into two parts, and you must answer the question in part one.

In part one you write an essay giving your opinion on the essay title and using the ideas given in the question. You must give reasons for your opinion.

In part two you have a choice of three and you choose one. The choices are from:

   • A letter/email
   • An article
   • A report
   • A review
   • An essay


There are four parts to the listening exam, and thirty questions in all. You hear the listening texts twice and the exam lasts for about forty minutes.

Expect to hear some different accents (Irish, Australian, American, London, Scottish, Welsh etc), and different texts (phone calls, lectures, radio programmes, quizzes, interviews, plays etc).

It’s a good idea to expose your ears to as much English as possible, and as much variety as possible, before the exam. Listen to songs, interviews, podcasts, English news, film soundtracks and TV series in English.

Part One – 8 questions

There are eight short extracts in the first part, and they are not connected. You have to answer a multiple choice question about each one. You may be asked about how the speakers are related, how the speaker is feeling (angry, upset, exited etc.), the general subject of the text or the purpose of the conversation.

Part Two – 10 questions

Here you have to complete sentences and fill in missing information while you are listening to a monologue or conversation which lasts for about three minutes. Remember, you hear every text twice.

Part Three – 5 questions

You hear five different people speaking about a related topic, and you have to match the speakers to written information on your question sheet. The different people speak for about thirty seconds each.

Part Four – 7 questions

This is a fairly long monologue or conversation which lasts about three minutes. You have to select answers to questions related to the text. The questions may be true or false, yes or no, multiple choice etc.

The speaking test has four parts and lasts for about 14 minutes. There are usually two exam candidates and two examiners. One examiner asks the questions and explains the tasks. The other examiner only listens to your English.

Part One – Conversation

This lasts for two minutes, and the examiner will ask questions about where you are from, if you work or study, your family, hobbies and interests, future plans, likes and dislikes etc. This part of the test is supposed to help you to relax and stop being nervous.

Part Two – Talking about photographs

This lasts a total of four minutes. You speak for a minute about two photographs. You compare and contrast the photographs, give your opinion and try to relate the photographs to your own experience. Your partner then comments on your photographs, and /or what you have said, for about 30 seconds. Then your partner speaks for one minute about two different photographs, and you comment after for about 30 seconds.

Part Three

This part lasts for four minutes and you should only speak to your partner. The examiner will tell you what to do and give you a paper with written information. You should discuss the information with your partner. The focus is on some, but not all of the following: exchanging ideas, agreeing or disagreeing, sustaining an interaction, justifying your opinion, suggesting, speculating, evaluating and reaching a decision through negotiation.

There will be a 2-minute discussion followed by a 1‑minute decision-making task. The total time for Part 3 is 4 minutes.

Part Four

This section continues the theme or topic from part three. The examiner will ask you some questions related to part three to develop and widen the conversation. This part lasts for four minutes.

El presente material es de utilidad para la preparación de FCE. El material online es una pequeña parte de un completo Curso de FIRST CERTIFICATE disponible en CD Rom y para su Descarga Online. Si deseas conocer si tu nivel actual es adecuado para preparar el examen, puedes realizar también una prueba de nivel.


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