Accepted by thousands of businesses and educational institutions worldwide. It demonstrates that the candidate has the language skills necessary to live and work independently in an English-speaking country or study on courses taught in English.
Pass score:160 points (roughly 60%)
Candidates receive a score for each tested skill: reading, writing, speaking, listening and use of English, as well as an overall score that is an average of all 5. There is also information as to which level on the CEFR the score corresponds to. Notice that reading and use of English are marked separately even though they are tested as one component.
Candidates who score between 140 and 159 points get a certificate stating that their level is B1. On the other hand, the high-flying candidates whose results exceed 180 points are awarded a certificate stating that their level is C1.
The format is fixed – the question types don’t change. It means that the kinds of exercises you see in the past papers or practice test are the same (type) that you will see in the exam.
Total test time: about 3 hours 30 minutes
The certificate never expires – valid for life
1. Reading and Use of English
7 tasks, some testing your ability to understand a written text, others a mix of reading and language test, and one part that tests how well you can paraphrase, using a given structure : key-word transformations, many candidates find it the most challenging one.
Despite the popular belief, the Use of English is not solely a grammar test. A lot of what is tested is vocabulary – collocations, fixed expressions, synonyms and antonyms.
4 parts – a total of 2 longer tracks and 11 short ones. You hear each recording twice, even if you got your answers after the first listening. Admittedly, it is also a test of concentrating for a longer period of time on sometimes tedious tasks. Some of the recordings can be a bit faster than others, there can also be a few different accents present, but they will be ones that are easy understand.
You write 2 texts, one is compulsory – an essay; and the other you choose out of 4 given options. The “optional” texts may include: an article, a review, a letter, an email, an essay, a story (FCE for Schools only), a text based on a set book (FCE for Schools only), or a report (not in FCE for Schools). Each text is marked separately, and your score is a total for both.
This exam is taken in pairs, sometimes in a group of three. There are 4 tasks, some of them you do individually, others with the partner. The test starts with a couple of questions about you and your life that will help you warm up, then you have a task to describe the visual material, discuss a question with a partner and finish off with discussing a few more questions from the examiner.
The exam can be either paper-based, or computer based. As not every centre provides both options, ask which ones they have available.
Who marks it?
Most of the test is scanned and marked by computers – that is why it is so important to fill in the answer sheet correctly. This is also the reason for the requirement to complete most of the answers in pencil.
However, both writing tasks and part 4 of Reading and Use of English are marked by humans.
The speaking component is marked by the one of the examiners you meet – the one who does NOT speak to you or ask you any questions.
You can see a sample test here: