• Cambridge English

    • Cambridge English Language Assessment is the new name for University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

      The new name and new logo will be introduced gradually during 2013, and our exams, certificates, statements of results and other official documentation, will change from November 2013.

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  • How to prepare for Cambridge English: First (FCE)

    Who accepts Cambridge English: First (FCE)?

    These are just a few of the leading organisations that will accept your certificate

    • Hewlett-Packard (HP)
    • KPMG
    • IBM
    • Sony
    • University of Bath
    • Universidad de Salamanca
    • UK Border Agency
    • Vietnam National University

    Find out more

    Official Cambridge English exam preparation materials

    To support teachers and help learners prepare for their exams, Cambridge English Language Assessment and Cambridge University Press have developed a range of official support materials including coursebooks and practice tests. These official materials are available in both print and digital formats.

    See our official preparation materials

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    To help you feel really prepared for Cambridge English: First, there is a huge range of exam preparation resources and services.

    Reading paper – Tips and FAQs

    • Read the sources, titles and subtitles of the texts where given – they are there to help you.
    • Read each text carefully before you answer the questions to get an overall impression and understanding of it. This includes Part 3, the multiple-matching task.
    • Check the words around the gap carefully. Remember, the missing word(s) may form part of an idiom, fixed phrase or collocation. (Part 2)
    • Check that the completed paragraph makes sense in the passage as a whole. Remember, the missing sentence must fit the context of the passage. (Part 2)
    • Keep an overall idea of the development of the text. You will need to check that the sentences chosen to fit the gaps in the base text fit the progression of the argument or narrative as a whole. (Part 2)
    • Read the questions carefully and check each option against the text before rejecting it. (Part 2)
    • Don't try to answer any questions without referring carefully to the text.
    • Don't spend too much time on any one part of the paper.
    • Don't forget to record your answers on the separate answer sheet.
    • Don't assume that if the same word appears in the text as well as in an option, this means you have located the answer.
    FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

    What aspects of reading does the Reading paper test?
    You will need to show that you can understand specific information, main idea, text organisation and structure, tone, gist, opinion, attitude, detail and purpose. You will also need to be able to deduce meaning (work out the meaning of unknown vocabulary).

    How many marks is the Reading paper worth?
    Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam.

    How long should I spend on each part?
    Within this 1-hour paper, there is no time limit for each task. Some tasks may take longer than others and you should be aware of how long you need for different tasks. However, remember that each of the three parts is worth approximately the same number of marks overall.

    How do I write my answers for the Reading paper?
    In this paper, you need to put the answers on an answer sheet by filling in boxes in pencil.

    What is the range of text types in each part of the Reading paper?
    It is possible for any of the following text types to appear in any part of the paper: newspaper and magazine articles, reports, fiction, advertisements, letters, messages, informational material (e.g. brochures, guides, manuals, etc.).

    Make sure you are familiar with all these text types and with the different test focuses for each part. Appropriate tasks are selected to suit the individual text.

    What if I make a mistake on the answer sheet?
    You should be careful when filling in your answer sheet. If more than one lozenge (box) has been completed for one question, the computer rejects the answer sheet, which is then dealt with on an individual basis. Checks are in place to identify incomplete answer sheets, which are also then checked.

    Cases where all the answers have been entered incorrectly, e.g. by putting Answer 1 to Question 2, Answer 2 to Question 3, etc., cannot be identified.

    Writing paper – Tips and FAQs

    • Read the whole question thoroughly and underline important parts.
    • Make a plan for each answer, including ALL points.
    • Expand the points in Part 1 if you can, using relevant ideas and information.
    • Write in paragraphs, whenever appropriate.
    • Use a range of vocabulary, even if you are unsure of the correct spelling.
    • Check tense endings, plural forms and word order in sentences.
    • Check irregular past tenses and question formation.
    • Use language that is appropriately formal or informal for the task.
    • Choose a question you feel confident you can write about in Part 2.
    • Write clearly, so that the examiner can read your answer.
    • Don't misspell key words which appear on the question paper.
    • Don't use the exact words from the question paper too much.
    • Don't mix formal and informal language.
    • Don't use formal linkers in an informal letter.
    • Don't waste time writing addresses for a letter as they are not required.
    • Don't answer Question 5 if you haven’t read either of the books.
    • Don't worry if you run slightly over the word limit.
    FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

    How many texts do I need to write?
    Two. There is one task in Part 1, and a choice of tasks in Part 2.

    How long should I spend on each part?
    This is up to you. However, remember that both parts are worth the same number of marks. You should allow time for planning before you start writing each task, and for checking your work after you have finished. Overall the paper lasts 1 hour 20 minutes. 

    In what ways is Part 1 different from Part 2?

    Part 1 Part 2
    • One compulsory task
    • Before you start writing you will need to read material of up to 160 words, e.g. advertisements, extracts from letters, articles, etc.
    • You always need to write a letter or an email
    • A choice of tasks
    • The instructions are shorter
    • There is a range of different text types to choose from

    How many marks is each part of the Writing paper worth?
    Each part of the Writing test is worth the same amount of marks. Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam.

    Where do I write my answers?
    In the question booklet. This booklet also contains enough space for you to write your rough work.

    How is the Writing paper marked?
    Your Writing paper will be marked by a trained examiner working with a Team Leader, all guided and monitored by a Principal Examiner. Each examiner is randomly given tests to mark from all the entries. In this way, examiners will be assessing scripts from a variety of centres and countries.

    How are extended responses in Writing assessed?
    Examiners mark tasks using Assessment scales developed with explicit reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The scales,
    which are used across the Cambridge English General and Business English Writing tests, are made up from four subscales: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organisation and Language:

    Content focuses on how well the candidate has fulfilled the task – if they have done what they were asked to do.
    Communicative Achievement focuses on how appropriate the writing is for the task and whether the candidate has used the appropriate register.
    Organisation focuses on the way the candidate puts together the piece of writing, in other words, if it is logical and ordered.
    Language focuses on vocabulary and grammar. This includes the range of language as well as how accurate it is.

    Each response is marked from 0 to 5 on each of the four subscales and these scores are combined to give a final mark for the Writing test.

    What if I write too little/too much?
    We are looking for evidence that you have achieved the Cambridge English: First level in Writing skills. You are given guidelines about how much to write to help you plan your writing. If you write too much, you will only lose marks if you include things that are not relevant or would have a negative effect on the intended audience. If you write too little, but still include all the information required, you will not lose marks.

    Is the report format obligatory for the 'report' in the Writing paper?
    Reports should be clearly organised and may contain headings. The report format is not obligatory, but will make a good impression on the target reader if used appropriately. The mark awarded for the report will, however, depend on how the report meets the requirements.

    Are addresses to be left out ONLY when stated in the task?
    If you are asked to write a letter, the instruction 'You do not need to include postal addresses' is added. If you are asked to write something else (e.g. a report, an article), you may choose to use a letter format to answer the question if appropriate to the task. Whether you do or don’t include an address will not affect your marks. 

    Do I have to study both the set texts?
    The set text questions are optional. If you decide to answer on a set text, you only have to study one of the books as there is always a question on each of them. The suggested editions are Graded Readers which have been adapted to the level that is suitable for Cambridge English: First candidates. You should be aware that the language level in other editions may be less accessible.
    Find out what the set texts are for Cambridge English: First

    Use of English paper – Tips and FAQs

    • Read the words following the gaps in Parts 1 and 2 as they may have an effect on the answer.
    • Make sure that any verb you write in a gap agrees with its subject in Part 2.
    • Write the prompt word in your answer in Part 3 without changing it in any way.
    • Write between two and five words as your answer in Part 4.
    • Remember that the words you need to write might have to change into a negative or a plural in Part 3.
    • Check your spelling in all parts of the test.
    • Transfer your answers accurately to the answer sheet.
    • Don't write the answers to any of the examples on your answer sheet.
    • Don't choose your answer in Part 1 before you have read all the options.
    • Don't write out the full sentence when answering the questions in Part 4.
    • Don't leave the base word in Part 3 unchanged.
    • Don’t decide on your answer before reading the whole of a sentence in all parts.
    • Don't give alternative answers for any questions.
    FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

    How many marks is the Use of English paper worth?
    The Use of English test is worth 40 marks: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam.

    Will I lose marks for incorrect answers?
    No. You will not lose marks if you give an incorrect answer. If you give a wrong answer, it is the same as giving no answer – you get no marks for that question. If you’re not sure about an answer, it is better to guess than to leave the question blank.

    How do I record my answers?
    Make sure you fill in the answers clearly. Write your answers on the answer sheet provided by filling in boxes or by writing words (between two and five words are allowed for answers in Part 4). Your answer sheet will be scanned onto a computer. You must transfer your answers within the time given for the paper (45 minutes).

    How important is spelling in the Use of English paper?
    All spelling must be correct in this paper. You will not get a mark for answers which are not spelled correctly.

    If I think there are two possible answers to one question, can I write them both?
    You should write only one answer for each question.

    In the Use of English paper, are words like 'doesn't' and 'isn't' counted as one or two words?
    To count the number of words, the full form should be taken into account, e.g. 'didn't' = 'did not' = two words.

    What happens if I miss a negative in the transformations, thereby giving the opposite meaning to the original?
    The instructions state that the second sentence must have a similar meaning to the first. However, in the mark scheme the answer is divided into two parts (see below). The two parts of the sentence (either side of the dividing lines) are always treated separately, so you will receive one mark for correctly completing one part of the sentence, even if a negative has been omitted from the other part.

    e.g. The last time Enrico saw Gloria was the day they left school.

    Enrico has ............. the day they left school.
    n't / not seen Gloria ][ since.

    How is the word formation task evaluated when the form of the word is right, but it should be plural instead of singular, or the other way round?
    A singular in an answer where a plural is required is marked as incorrect (and the other way round). You are expected to look at indicators in the text to decide whether a singular or plural form is appropriate. The same applies for positively/negatively prefixed adjectives.

    Listening paper – Tips and FAQs

    • Listen to and read the instructions throughout the test. Make sure you understand what you are listening for and what you have to do.
    • Use the preparation time before each recording is played to read through the question and think about the context.
    • Use the information on the page to help you follow the text.
    • Look carefully at what is printed before and after the gap in Part 2 and think about the kind of information that you are listening for.
    • Write only the missing information on the answer sheet. (Part 2)
    • Write your answers as clearly as possible.
    • Check your answer the second time you hear a recording if you have an idea of the correct answer the first time round.
    • Answer all the questions, even if you're not sure.
    • Transfer your answers accurately to the answer sheet
    • Don't rephrase what you hear in Part 2; write down the exact word(s) or figure(s) that you hear on the recording.
    • Don't complicate your answer by writing extra, irrelevant information. (Part 2)
    • Don't spend too much time on a question you are having difficulty with as you may miss the next question.
    • Don't rush to choose an answer just because you hear one word or phrase – concentrate on the overall meaning. (Parts 1, 3 & 4)
    FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

    What aspects of listening are tested in the Cambridge English: First Listening paper?
    You will be tested on your understanding of gist, main points, detail and specific information, and your ability to deduce meaning. You will listen to monologues and interacting speakers from a variety of sources.

    How many times will I hear each recording?
    You will hear each recording twice.

    How do I record my answers?
    You must write all your answers on a separate answer sheet. You may write on the question paper as you listen, but you must transfer your answers to the answer sheet. You will have 5 minutes at the end of the test to do this.

    How many marks is the Cambridge English: First Listening test worth?
    Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam.

    Does it matter if I make spelling mistakes?
    At Cambridge English: First level, minor spelling mistakes are not penalised, but your intention must be clear. You will not be asked to spell words which are above Cambridge English: First level. However, where a word has been spelled out letter by letter, e.g. a proper name, and where this would actually be a test of your ability to follow the spelling, the spelling must be correct.

    Am I supposed to write the words I hear in the recording in my answers to Part 2, or do I get more marks if I use my own words?
    You should try to use the actual words you hear in the recording. You do not get more marks for using your own words.

    Can I wear headphones for the Listening paper?
    Ask your centre whether you can use headphones or not – it depends how they choose to run the exam.

    Speaking paper – Tips and FAQs

    • Make sure you are familiar with what happens, and what skills you need to show, in each part of the test.
    • Practise speaking English as much as possible in groups and in pairs, both inside and outside the classroom.
    • Listen carefully to the instructions and questions during the test and respond appropriately.
    • Speak clearly, so that both the interlocutor and assessor can hear you.
    • Use all the opportunities you're given in the test to speak, and extend your responses whenever possible.
    • Ask for clarification of instructions or a question if you're not sure.
    • Be prepared to initiate discussion as well as responding to what your partner says.
    • Make full use of the time so that the examiner who is listening hears plenty of your English.
    • Don't prepare long answers in advance, or learn and practise speeches.
    • Don't try to dominate your partner or interrupt them abruptly during the Speaking test.
    • Don't leave long or frequent pauses.
    • Don't worry about being interrupted by the examiner. This shows you have spoken enough. The tests have to keep to the time limit for administrative reasons.
    FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

    How many marks is the Speaking test worth?
    Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam.

    Can I do the Speaking test with another student from my school?
    This depends on the centre. In some centres, candidates from the same school do the Speaking test together. In other centres, where candidates from several different schools do the exam at the same time, you may have a partner from another school. Check this with your exam centre.

    Do my partner and I speak to each other as well as to the examiner?
    Yes. In Parts 1 and 2, you speak to the interlocutor (the examiner who speaks to you) but in Part 3, you must discuss something with the other candidate. In this part, you must speak to each other and NOT to the interlocutor. In Part 4, you can speak to the interlocutor or to your partner, or to both.

    Do both examiners speak throughout the test?
    No. Only the interlocutor (the examiner who speaks to you) speaks. The assessor is silent except for greeting and saying goodbye to you.

    Does knowing your partner make it easier to do well?
    There is no evidence that knowing your partner helps you to perform better, or worse, in the Speaking test. Some people feel more relaxed and confident when they do the test with someone they know, but other candidates may find this situation difficult or unnatural. In both cases, the examiners are trained to give all candidates equal opportunities to show their abilities.

    What if the two candidates have very different personalities, e.g. one is very shy and one is very outgoing?
    Examiners are trained to manage this situation and ensure that everyone has an equal chance to show their abilities during the test. However, you must try to make the best use of the time to show the examiners your language skills without dominating your partner.

    What should I do if I don't understand the instructions?
    Just ask the examiner to repeat the instructions.

    What happens when there is only one candidate left at the end of a Speaking test session?
    In this case, the last candidates would be examined as a group of three.

    Free support materials

    Sample papers

    Paper-based exam 

    Download sample papers for Cambridge English: First

    Computer-based exam 

    This computer-based sample test allows you to see what a full computer-based Cambridge English: First exam will be like, and shows the types of questions that appear in the live exam.

    You will need to use the Firefox browser, which you can download Firefox for free here. Once downloaded, open Firefox and use the links below to view the three tests.

    Watch this tutorial before you try the practice test below, this will help you understand what you need to do.



    Use Of English


    Check your answers as you do the test – once the test has finished you will not be able to check them.

    Use the answer keys below.

    Listening Answer Key
    Reading Answer Key
    Use of English Answer Key

    There is no answer key for the Writing Paper, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the Cambridge English: First Handbook.

    Examiner’s comments on a Cambridge English: First Speaking test
    A document containing detailed comments on the student performances, seen in this video. It also includes information on the format of the Speaking test and how it is assessed.
    Download examiner's comments

    Information for Candidates
    A guide to the exam, with an overview of what’s involved, advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.
    Download Information for Candidates

    Summary Regulations for Candidates
    All the important information you need to know when taking the exam.
    Download Summary Regulations for Candidates

    Official Cambridge English preparation materials

    You can find a wide range of official Cambridge English support materials from Cambridge English Language Assessment and Cambridge University Press. Support materials include coursebooks and practice tests and include materials in both print and digital formats.
    Find preparation materials for Cambridge English: First

    What to expect on the day of your test

    Find out exactly what to expect on the day you take your exam.

    Exam day tips – paper-based exams
    Exam day tips – computer-based exams

    Where to find books for study

    Find coursebooks, practice tests and learning resources from independent publishers to help you prepare for your exam.

    Find books for study

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    • Cambridge English Language Assessment organises hundreds of events worldwide every year. The events range from seminars for teachers, attendance at local, national and international English language teaching events, and the organisation of the major testing and assessment conferences. We also run a very well-attended programme of webinars throughout the year.

      Event schedule

  • Social Networking

    Social networks

    • Cambridge English Language Assessment offers you lots of ways of using online communities to get the most out of learning or teaching English.

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