First Certificate in English (FCE)

FCE is an exam for people who can use everyday written and spoken English at an upper-intermediate level. It is an ideal exam for people who want to use English for work or study purposes.

Is FCE for you?

Can you...

  • understand texts from a wide variety of sources?
  • use English to make notes while someone is speaking in English?
  • talk to people about a wide variety of topics?
  • understand people talking in English on radio or television programmes?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then FCE is the right exam for you.

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What will FCE do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking FCE:

'I am working in an international environment which requires me to continuously improve my English. To pass the FCE at Grade B is certainly a commitment to that. After the exam I got the motivation to study more English and then decided to enrol in an MBA conducted in English.'
Phan Hoang Hoa - FCE candidate

'The course was so useful for me. My English writing and reading is much better and when I go back to my country it will be helpful for getting a new job.'
Maria Fernandez Rechsteiner - FCE Candidate

What will taking FCE help you do?

FCE is at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) - an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. 'Can Do' statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real skills with language.

For example, at B2 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • understand the main ideas of complex pieces of writing
  • keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics, expressing opinions and presenting arguments
  • produce clear, detailed writing, expressing opinions and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different points of view.

Your preparation for FCE will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

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What does FCE involve?

FCE has five papers:

Reading: 1 hour
You will need to be able to understand information in fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines.

Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes
You will have to show you can produce two different pieces of writing such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report, a review or an essay.

Use of English: 45 minutes
Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you control your grammar and vocabulary.

Listening: 40 minutes
You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including news programmes, speeches, stories and anecdotes and public announcements.

Speaking: 14 minutes
You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in a group of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates and by yourself.

Supporting you

As with all of Cambridge ESOL's certificates, there is a lot of support to help you prepare for your exam.

Most candidates prefer to take the preparation courses run by language schools and universities.

You can access a variety of support materials from the Resources area of our website. These include a short booklet, Information for Candidates, and sample exam papers, which include sound files for the Listening test materials.

Many publishers have produced a wide choice of books and other aids to help you prepare for taking FCE. Ask your local bookshop for details.

To help you prepare for FCE, we provide teachers with their own website so they can download sample exam papers, handbooks, and other teaching support material.

Why free class?
  • This way you can see our school, teachers, books, materials etc.
  • It will also mean we can get a clear idea of your level and exactly what you need to improve about your English.
  • Free class gets you 100% risk free, after that you can book course, and be aware of that what you are buying

Resources available

A world of opportunities - worldwide recognition

  • FCE is a truly international exam, recognised by thousands of industrial, administrative and service-based employers as a qualification in intermediate English.
  • It is also accepted by a wide range of educational institutions for study purposes.
  • Companies such as American Express, Agfa-Gevaert GmbH, Siemens and Procter Gamble all recognise the value of FCE in their overseas offices.

Find more details on the organisations and universities that recognise FCE.

English for your future

  • FCE offers a clear pathway to higher qualifications such as the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).
  • FCE's 'Can Do' skills enable you to use English in real situations with confidence. FCE exams use real-life situations and are especially designed to help you communicate more effectively in your own life and to focus your language learning on the skills you will actually need.
  • Because FCE exams focus on all four communication skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking) plus the use of English, you increase your confidence in using English in everyday situations.


Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the test centres.

Your results

Each component of the exam carries 20% of the total marks.

Candidates can access their results through the Cambridge ESOL Results Online website.

There are three Pass grades, A, B and C - candidates reaching these grades are awarded a certificate. Candidates achieving grades D or E do not receive a certificate.

Information on changes to the FCE Statement of Results (PDF 331Kb)

If you have any questions about your results, you should contact the centre where you took the exam.

Exam dates

FCE can be taken in March, June and December.

From December 2008, when the updated FCE exam is introduced, there will be two set texts with one text specific question on each.

December 2008 - December 2009

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Macmillan or any edition)
Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera (Penguin or any edition)

Next steps

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If you are studying English at the moment, speak to your teacher about how to enrol.

If you are not studying at the moment, your nearest Cambridge ESOL exam centre will be able to advise you about how to register, fees, the dates of the exam and other arrangements. We have more than 2,000 centres in 130 countries. Please note that centres may set registration deadlines that are earlier than those published.

Entries cannot be made directly to Cambridge ESOL.

Already registered? Visit the Candidate Support site for exam preparation help.

If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) it may be possible to ask for Special Arrangements to be made when taking the exam.

Get access to your better English!

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