|EE-001| B2: First (former FCE)

Hello ExamSeekers,

I’ve been posting about Cambridge English Exams for a while, but some texts needed to be updated. As the years progressed, the exams evolved, and some changes occurred along the way. So today, let’s talk a bit about the B2: First, former FCE.

Cover for FCE - B2 First

Why do I say “former FCE”? Up until 2017, Cambridge used to name the exam that qualified people at a B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) as FCE (First Certificate in English or Cambridge English First). However, they decided to change it, and now it is known as B2: First. I guess they decided on changing to relate the exam to the CEFR. I believe it was a nice change, but people still refer to the B2: First as FCE.

For those familiar with the CEFR table, this is the fourth level out of six. As you can see below.

Candidates who get a B2: First qualification are considered to have the language skills to live and work independently in an English-speaking country or study on courses taught in English.

It is worth considering that now Cambridge gives you a certificate no matter the grade you get. For instance, if you subscribe for the B2: First, but end up getting a lower grade, you will not be left without a certificate – as it used to be before -, but instead, you will get a B1: Preliminary certificate if that is the case. On the other hand, if you get a terrible grade, you won’t get either a B2: First certificate or a B1: Preliminary certificate. The Cambridge website explains it better with the model below:

Pass at Grade A – 180 to190
Pass at Grade B – 173 to179
Pass at Grade C – 160 to172
B1 Level – 140 to159
Fail – 0 to139

So, if you end up getting lower than 140 in your B2: First exam, then it will be a fail. Otherwise, you still have the chance to get a certificate.

STATEMENT OF RESULT

Each person who sits for the exam will have a statement of result. In it, you will find out how well you did in each part, all divided. Besides that, you will also get your average and grade. If your score is appropriate for the level you subscribed for, you will get the Statement of Result and the certificate. The Statement of Result will come out around a month after the exam, and you can check it online, while the certificate usually takes around two months to arrive at the center you sat for the exam.

I had been teaching English for about three years when I sat for my first Cambridge English Exam. This is my Statement of Result. As you can see, back in 2011, they still called it FCE. Also, you can check for the punctuation, the grades, and how well I did in the Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Use of English.

THE TEST FORMAT

The B2 First test is divided into four sections: Reading and Use of English, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. Each section is composed of different parts, and each one carries different marks, as you can see below:

Reading and Use of English consists of seven pieces and has, in total, 52 questions. You have up to 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish the exam. In this part, questions 1-24 and 43-53 carry one mark; questions 25-30 carry up to two marks, and questions 31-42 bear two marks. You will come across exercises such as multiple-choice questions, open cloze, word formation, gapped text, and multiple matching.

Listening consists of four parts, and you need to answer 30 questions related to different types of recordings. The tracks will be played twice before moving on to the following piece, and you will need to answer exercises of multiple-choice, sentence completion, and multiple matching. For the listening section, all questions carry one mark for each correct answer.

Writing consists of two parts, in which you are asked to write two different types of texts. The first one is a mandatory topic. However, for the second part, you are allowed to choose one among three topics. For both parts, you are required to write 140-190 words. You can be asked to write articles, emails, essays, letters, reports, or reviews. You have up to 1 hour and 20 minutes to finish writing both texts.

Speaking consists of four parts and takes an average of fourteen minutes. You will most probably do the exam in pairs – and I say “probably” because if there is an odd number of candidates, one pair will end up being a trio. However, you will not need to speak with your pair all the time. You will be asked individual questions, asked to talk solo for one minute about a picture, compare, contrast and describe photographs, come to an agreement with your partner, express your opinion, etc.

Depending on the center, you will not be able to sit for all parts in one go, and there is a chance that the speaking part will be scheduled on a different day. So, make sure you check all the dates beforehand so that you won’t miss any part of the exam, which can be extremely damaging to your overall performance. Also, the test can be paper-based or computer-based.

INVESTMENT

When you subscribe to B2: First, you will need to pay a fee of around USD 245.00, but it varies depending on the currency and the center. For that reason, on the Cambridge website, you can find a center near you and check all the requirements and values accurately. You can check the website here.

I will be talking more extensively about each part in the following posts. However, should you have any questions about this exam, feel free to leave a comment and ask! I would love to hear from you and help you out with whatever you may want to know about them!

Well, this is it for today. Soon there will be more updated content for you! Also, don’t forget to follow the blog at:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura

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