FCE Exam What is it? “Cambridge English: First, also known as First Certificate in English (FCE), is an exam for people who need to prove they can use everyday written and spoken English at an upper-intermediate level for work or study purposes.” Available as a paper-based test and as a computer-based test Source: www.cambridgeesol.org. Adapted. Exam Overview What is in FCE the exam? Paper Content Marks Purpose (% of total) Reading (1 hour) 3 parts/30 questions 20% Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as fiction, newspapers and magazines. Writing (1 hour 20 minutes) 2 parts 20% Requires you to be able to produce two different pieces of writing, such as letters, reports, reviews and short stories. Use of English (45 minutes) 4 parts/42 questions 20% Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you can control your grammar and vocabulary. Listening (about 40 minutes) 4 parts/30 questions 20% Requires you to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as news programmes, presentations and everyday conversations. Speaking (14 minutes per pair of candidates) 4 parts 20% Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. You will take the Speaking test with one or two other candidates. FCE WRITING FCE Writing What's in the writing paper? In the two parts of the Cambridge English: First Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English. Time allowed: 1 hour 20 minutes Number of parts 2 Number of questions: Part 1: one compulsory question Part 2: one question from a choice of five Marks: 20% of total Types of task: article, email, essay, letter, report, review, story FCE Writing Parts 1-2 Part 1 What's in Part 1? Some material to read (up to 160 words). You have to write a letter or email using the information in this material. What do I have to practise? Writing a letter or email. You may have to apologise, compare, describe, explain, express opinions, justify, persuade, recommend, and/or suggest something. How many questions are there? One compulsory question. How much do I have to write? 120–150 words FCE Writing Parts 1-2 Part 2 What's in Part 2? A choice of five questions. The answer you have to write will be one of the following: article, essay, letter, report, review or story. What about Question 5? If you read one of the set books and want to write about it, you may decide to try Question 5. You have a choice of two tasks 5 (a) or 5 (b) for this question. What do I have to practise? Writing different types of text: articles, essays, letters, reports, reviews. Depending on the question, you will have to advise, compare, describe, explain, express opinions, justify and/or recommend something. How many questions are there? One task to be selected from a choice of five. How much do I have to write? 120–180 words FCE Writing Set Texts Set texts for Cambridge English: First in 2014 ● LP Hartley: The Go-Between ● Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm The texts are Graded Readers which have been adapted to the level and are suitable for FCE candidates. FCE Writing DOs and DON’Ts DOs 1.Read the whole question thoroughly and underline important parts. 2.Make a plan for each answer, including ALL points. 3.Expand the points in Part 1 if you can, using relevant ideas and information. 4.Write in paragraphs, whenever appropriate. 5.Use a range of vocabulary, even if you are unsure of the correct spelling. 6.Check tense endings, plural forms and word order in sentences. 7.Check irregular past tenses and question formation. 8.Check irregular past tenses and question formation. 9.Use language that is appropriately formal or informal for the task. 10.Choose a Part 2 question that you feel confident you can write about. 11.Write clearly, so that the examiner can read your answer. DON’Ts 1.Don’t misspell key words which appear on the question paper. 2.Don’t use the exact words from the question paper too much. 3.Don’t mix formal and informal language. 4.Don’t use formal linkers in an informal letter. 5.Don’t waste time writing addresses for a letter, as they are not required. 6.Don’t answer Question 5 if you haven’t read one of the books. 7.Don’t worry if you run slightly over the word limit. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) FCE Writing 1. How many texts do I need to write? Two. You must do the task in Part 1, and you can choose one task from Part 2. 2. How long should I spend on each part? This is up to you. However, remember that each part is worth the same number of marks. You should allow time for planning before you start writing each task, and for checking your own work after you have finished. 3. In what ways is Part 1 different from Part 2? In Part 1 there is one compulsory task, while in Part 2 there is a choice of tasks. In Part 1, before you start writing you will need to read material of up to 160 words, e.g. advertisements, extracts from letters, articles etc., while in Part 2 the instructions are shorter. In Part 1, you always need to write a letter or an email, whereas in Part 2 there is a range of different text types to choose from. 4. 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, Listening, Use of English and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam. 5. Where do I write my answers? In the question booklet. This booklet also contains enough space for you to write your rough work. 6. Are addresses to be omitted ONLY when stated in the task? As a matter of policy, where the genre given is a letter, the instruction 'You do not need to include postal addresses' will be added. Where other genres are given in the instructions (e.g. report, article), candidates sometimes choose to use a letter format to answer the question if appropriate to the task. In no case will the address, if you include it, be subject to assessment, either negative or positive. 7. Do I have to study both the set texts? The set text questions are optional. If you decide to answer the set text, it is only necessary to study one of the books as there is always a question on each of them. FCE LISTENING FCE Listening What is in the Listening Part? Time allowed: about 40 minutes Number of parts: 4 Number of questions: 30 Marks: 20% of total FCE Listening Parts 1–4 Part 1 (Multiple Choice) What's in Part 1? A series of short, unrelated recordings of approximately 30 seconds each. You have to listen to the recordings and answer one multiple-choice question for each. Each question has three options (A, B or C). What do I have to practise? Listening for general meaning (gist), detail, function, purpose, attitude, opinion, relationship, topic, place, situation, genre, agreement, etc. How many questions are there? 8 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Listening Parts 1–4 Part 2 (Sentence Completion) What's in Part 2? A monologue (one person speaking), or a recording with two or more speakers lasting approximately 3 minutes. To answer the questions, you have to complete the sentences on the question paper with information you hear on the recording. What do I have to practise? Listening for detail, specific information, stated opinion. How many questions are there? 10 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Listening Parts 1–4 Part 3 (Multiple Matching) What's in Part 3? A series of statements and short related monologues of approximately 30 seconds each. You listen to the recordings and choose which statement best matches what each speaker says. What do I have to practise? Listening for general gist, detail, function, purpose, attitude, opinion, relationship, topic, place, situation, genre, agreement, etc. How many questions are there? 5 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Listening Parts 1–4 Part 4 (Multiple Choice) What's in Part 4? A monologue or recording with two or more speakers which lasts approximately 3 minutes. You have to listen to the recording and answer seven multiple-choice questions. Each question has three options (A, B or C). What do I have to practise? Listening for opinion, attitude, gist, main idea, specific information. How many questions are there? 7 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Listening DOs and DON’Ts DOs 1.Listen to and read the instructions throughout the test. Make sure you understand what you are listening for and what you have to do. 2.Use the preparation time before each recording is played to read through the question and think about the context. 3.Use the information on the page to help you follow the text. 4.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. 5.Write only the missing information on the answer sheet. (Part 2) 6.Write your answers as clearly as possible. 7.If you have an idea of the correct answer the first time you hear a recording, check that this is correct the second time. 8.Answer all the questions – even if you’re not sure. 9.Make sure you have transferred your answers accurately to the answer sheet. DON’Ts 1.Don’t rephrase what you hear in Part 2; write down the exact word(s) or figure(s) that you hear on the recording. 2.Don’t complicate your answer by writing extra, irrelevant information. (Part 2) 3.Don’t spend too much time on a question you are having difficulty with as you may miss the next question. 4.Don’t rush to choose an answer just because you hear one word or phrase – concentrate on the overall meaning. (Parts 1, 3 and 4) FCE Listening FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 1. What aspects of listening are tested in the Cambridge English: First Listening test? 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. 2. How many times will I hear each recording? You will hear each recording twice. 3. 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. 4. How many marks is the Cambridge English: First Listening test worth? Reading, Writing, Listening, Use of English and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam. 5. Does it matter if I make spelling mistakes? At Cambridge English: First level, minor spelling mistakes are not penalized, 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. 6. Am I supposed to write the words I hear on the recording in 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 on the CD. You do not get more marks for using your own words. 7. Can I wear headphones in the Listening paper? Ask your center whether you can use headphones or not – it depends how they choose to run the exam. FCE SPEAKING FCE Speaking What's in the Face-to-face Speaking Test? Time allowed: 14 minutes per pair of candidates Number of parts: 4 Marks: 20% of total You have to talk: to the examiner to the other candidate on your own FCE Speaking Parts 1-4 Part 1: Interview What's in Part 1? Conversation with the examiner. The examiner asks questions and you may have to give information about yourself, talk about past experiences, present circumstances and future plans. What do I have to practise? Giving information about yourself and expressing your opinion about various topics. How long do I have to speak? 3 minutes FCE Speaking Parts 1-4 Part 2: Long Turn What's in Part 2? The examiner gives you a pair of photographs to talk about and you have to speak for 1 minute without interruption. The questions you have to answer about your photographs are written at the top of the page to remind you what you should talk about. When you have finished speaking, your partner then has to answer a short question from the examiner about your photographs. What do I have to practise? Talking on your own about something: comparing, describing, expressing opinions. How long do I have to speak? 1 minute per candidate FCE Speaking Parts 1-4 Part 3: Collaborative Task What's in Part 3? Conversation with the other candidate. The examiner gives you some pictures and a decisionmaking task to do. You have to talk with the other candidate and make a decision. What do I have to practise? Exchanging ideas, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing, suggesting, speculating, evaluating, reaching a decision through negotiation etc. How long do we have to speak? 3 minutes FCE Speaking Parts 1-4 Part 4: Discussion What's in Part 4? Further discussion with the other candidate about the same topic as the task in Part 3. What do I have to practise? Expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing. How long do I have to speak? 4 minutes FCE Speaking DOs and DON’Ts DOs 1.Make sure you are familiar with what happens, and what skills you need to show, in each part of the test. 2.Practise speaking English as much as possible in groups and in pairs, both inside and outside the classroom. 3.Listen carefully to the instructions and questions during the test and respond appropriately. 4.Speak clearly, so that both the interlocutor and assessor can hear you. 5.Use all the opportunities you’re given in the test to speak, and extend your responses whenever possible. 6.Ask for clarification of instructions or a question if you’re not sure. 7.Be prepared to initiate discussion as well as responding to what your partner says. 8.Make full use of the time so that the examiner who is listening hears plenty of your English. DON’Ts 1.Don’t prepare long answers in advance, or learn and practise speeches. 2.Don’t try to dominate your partner or interrupt them abruptly during the Speaking test. 3.Don’t leave long or frequent pauses. 4.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. FCE Speaking FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 1. How many marks is the Speaking test worth? Reading, Writing, Listening, Use of English and Speaking are each worth 20% of the total score for the Cambridge English: First exam. 2. 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. 3. Do we 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. 4. Do both examiners speak throughout the test? No, only the interlocutor speaks. The assessor is silent except for greeting and saying goodbye to you. 5. 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. 6. What happens if candidates are ‘mismatched’, for example by putting a shy person with an outgoing one? 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. 7. What should I do if I don't understand the instructions? You should ask the examiner to repeat the instructions. 8. What is done when there is only one candidate left at the end of a Speaking test session? The last single candidate will be examined with the last pair to form a group of three. FCE USE OF ENGLISH FCE Use of English What's in the Use of English Part? Time allowed: 45 minutes Number of parts: 4 Number of questions: 42 Marks: 20% of total FCE Use of English Parts 1–4 Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze, i.e. gap-fill) What's in Part 1? A text in which there are some missing words or phrases (gaps). After the text there are four possible answers for each gap and you have to choose the correct answer (A, B, C or D). What do I have to practise? Vocabulary – words with similar meanings, collocations (two or more words that often go together), linking phrases, phrasal verbs etc. How many questions are there? 12 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Use of English Part 2 (Open cloze) What's in Part 2? A text in which there are some missing words (gaps). You have to find the correct word for each gap. What do I have to practise? Grammar and vocabulary. How many questions are there? 12 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Use of English Part 3 (Word formation) What's in Part 3? A text containing 10 gaps. Each gap represents a word. At the end of the line is a ‘prompt’ word which you have to change in some way to make the missing word and complete the sentence correctly. What do I have to practise? Vocabulary – word building: the different words which you can make from a ‘base’ word, e.g. ‘compete’ becomes ‘competition’, ‘competitor’, ‘competitive’, ‘competitively’ or ‘uncompetitive’. How many questions are there? 10 How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer. FCE Use of English Part 4 (Key word transformations) What's in Part 4? A sentence followed by a key word and a second sentence which has a gap in it. You have to complete the second sentence so that it means the same as the first sentence, using a maximum of five words and including the key word. What do I have to practise? Grammar and vocabulary – rewriting sentences with different words so that they mean the same thing. How many questions are there? 8 How many marks are there? Up to two marks for each correct answer. FCE Use of English DOs and DON’Ts DOs 1.Read the words following the gaps in Parts 1 and 2 as they may have an effect on the answer. 2.Make sure that any verb you write in a gap in Part 2 agrees with its subject. 3.Write the prompt word in your answer in Part 4 without changing it in any way. 4.Write between two and five words as your answer in Part 4. 5.Remember that the words you need to write in Part 3 might have to change into a negative or a plural. 6.Check your spelling in all parts of the test 7.Make sure that you transfer your answers to the answer sheet accurately. DON’Ts 1.Don’t write the answers to any of the examples on your answer sheets. 2.Don’t choose your answer in Part 1 before you have read all the options. 3.Don’t write out the full sentence when answering the questions in Part 4. 4.Don’t leave the base word in Part 3 unchanged. 5.Don’t decide on your answer before reading the whole of a sentence in all parts. 6.Don’t give alternative answers for any questions. FCE Use of English FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) How many marks is the Use of English paper worth? The Use of English test is worth 40 marks. 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. SEEN 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. FCE READING FCE Reading Parts 1–3 Part 1 (Multiple choice) What's Part 1? in A text with some multiple-choice questions. Each question has four options (A, B, C or D) – you have to decide which is the correct answer. What do I have to practise? How to understand the details of a text, including opinions and attitudes. How many questions are there? 8 How many marks are there? Two marks for each correct answer. FCE Reading Part 2 (Gapped text) What's in Part 2? A text with some empty spaces (gaps). After the text there are some sentences taken from the text. You have to choose the correct sentence for each gap. What do I have to practise? How to understand development of a text. How many questions are there? 7 How many marks are there? Two marks for each correct answer. the structure and follow the FCE Reading Part 3 (Multiple matching) What's in Part 3? A series of questions and a long text (or several short texts) to read. For each question, you have to decide which text or part of the text mentions some specific information. What do I have to practise? How to find specific information in a text or texts. How many questions are there? 15 How marks are there? many One mark for each correct answer. FCE Reading DOs and DON’Ts DOs 1.Read the sources, titles and subtitles of the texts where given; they are there to help you. 2.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. 3.Remember, the missing word(s) may be forming part of an idiom, fixed phrase or collocation, so always check the words around the gap carefully. (Part 2) 4.Remember, the missing sentence must fit the context of the passage, so always check that the completed paragraph makes sense in the passage as a whole. (Part 2) 5.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) 6.Read the questions carefully and check each option against the text before rejecting it. (Part 2) DON’Ts 1.Don’t try to answer any questions without referring carefully to the text. 2.Don’t spend too much time on any one part of the paper. 3.Don’t forget to record your answers on the separate answer sheet. 4.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. FCE Reading 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. Good luck!