The Cambridge 'First Certificate in English' (FCE) is an upper intermediate level examination for learners of English, which is taken each year by 250,000 people in over 100 countries. The FCE is at level 3 of Cambridge examinations.

At this level, students should be able to interact comfortably as tourists in an English speaking environment.

As with all Cambridge examinations, FCE covers the main language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as grammar and vocabulary. FCE also recognizes the student's ability to communicate in English in real situations.

Employers count on Cambridge English: First (FCE) for recruitment.

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Students taking the FCE will have to deal with 5 papers: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. Each paper accounts for 20% of the final grade.

-Paper 1 Reading (1 hour)
This test consists of three parts, each based on different texts and corresponding comprehension tasks.

It is expected that students will be able to understand the main points of the texts, identify and extract specific information.

-Paper 2 Writing ( 1 hour 20 min)
Candidates must write two texts of approximately 120-180 words each. The first text is a transactional letter. The second will be chosen by the student.

-Paper 3 Use of English (45 min)
Students will carry out a series of tasks that will assess their ability to identify and use grammar structures, as well as vocabulary in English.

-Paper 4 Listening (Approximately 40 min)
Students will hear a series of taped texts, short dialogues and monologues. This paper tests the students´ ability to understand essential information as well as extract information from the recordings.

-Paper 5-Speaking (Approximately 14 min)
Candidates are interviewed in pairs. Two examiners are present. One examiner (the interlocutor) carries out the interviewer whilst the second (the assessor) focuses on the candidate's performance. There are four parts to the test. In the 1st part, the examiner will ask some 'getting-to-know-you' questions, in the 2nd candidates are given two photographs. You have to speak about your two photos without interruption for about 1 minute and also answer a question about your partner's photographs when he or she has finished their long turn. In part three the examiner will give both candidates instructions and a set of pictures and the candidates will have to try to reach some form of agreement about the questions asked related with the pictures. In part 4 the examiner will join both candidates in a discussion about the general topic that appeared in Part 3.


Examination is available six times a year on fixed dates in March, May, June (twice), November and December. PET may only be taken at Cambridge official testing centers. There are more than 2,400 authorized centers in more than 130 countries.

In order to enroll for the test, candidates must contact the authorized test center at least 10 weeks in advance. It is no possible to register through UCLES.


Once the examination finished, all exams scripts are sent back to Cambridge for marking. The examiners are specialists in the teaching of the English language with years of relevant experience in the proper level. While marking the tests, the examiners, who have previously been trained, are guided and supervised by examiners of greater seniority who are highly experienced.

There are five possible grades for FCE:

  • A, B, C (Passing grade)
  • D, E (failed)

Five or six weeks after the test, all candidates get an Exam Report that reflects their total results and a chart showing the performance of the candidates in each of the tests.

The Certificates for candidates who pass the test successfully will be available approximately 10 weeks after the test.

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