Should I consider taking the First Certificate in English Exam?

FCE preparation

The Cambridge First Certificate in English Exam is the first exam in a suite of exams catering for different level students. FCE is a B2 Upper Intermediate level exam. Sometimes students have the misconception that this is the first possibility in terms of Cambridge assessment but in fact there are two other possibilities. The Cambridge KET Key English Test which is an A2 Pre-intermediate level exam and the PET Preliminary English Test which is a B1 Intermediate level exam. It is best to choose the test appropriate to your current level in English. For example a student in a B1 Intermediate class will find it very difficult to reach the level required for FCE within a ten week period of preparation. Usually teachers recommend that you have spent time in a B2 or higher level class before attempting the FCE. Talking to your teacher or the academic office will help you in your decision about which Cambridge test is best for you.


The FCE is made up of four papers Speaking, Reading and Use of English, Writing and Listening. Reading and Use of English carries 40% of the overall result while each of the other three papers carries 20%. During an FCE course students practice all parts of the exam and develop strategies to maximise performance and utilise time effectively. The pass grade for FCE is 60% overall. Students often ask if you need to pass all individual papers to pass the overall exam. The answer is no however, if you fail one part it means you need to do exceptionally well in the others to compensate. Consistency across all papers is the best way to ensure success. For more information on the breakdown of papers go to Students can also join a facebook community to take part in English language learning


I am a teacher of FCE at CEC and enjoy teaching exam classes. We use specialised course books and materials for FCE. All class activities are focused towards the exam. There is a lot of work to be done in a short time so students need to take their work and participation in and outside class seriously. For example for the writing paper students need to master many different forms and styles so practice is essential. Students will find that they have at least one if not two pieces of writing to do each week.


I find that usually students are hardworking and committed to passing the exam. There is a co-operative atmosphere in the class whereby students share knowledge and help each other reach their full potential. The teacher is a constant guide offering valuable feedback on progress and offering advice on how to improve the skills needed for all parts of the exam. Although following an FCE course is hard work, we do find time to laugh and have some fun too! Students usually develop strong bonds together and become quite fond of their teachers as they spent a longer time than normal together.




Students from the last FCE class give their views and recommendations on FCE studies at CEC.

Hi my name is SOYOUNG KIM. I’m from South Korea. I’ve been here almost 4 months. I was in a general course before I came to FCE. I need a certificate for summer school in the UK.I heard from many people that it is more practical and helpful to improve my English skills than IELTS. I’m very happy about my choice. My teachers and classmates all work very hard together. I have to study hard to keep up with them. It is our final week together but I wish I had at least two more weeks together. Time flies! If you are in a B2 class or higher I would definitely recommend it to you.


Hello my name is RICARDO. I am 22 and from Brazil. When I first decided to go to an FCE class I was a little bit scared. I thought it would be too difficult but after a few days in the class I realised it was possible .I just needed to work hard. Other students were just like me. When you enter the class you realise you have the same objective as the other students and everything is a bit better. This is the strength of the class. The students are trying to help each other and always searching for improvement. I feel very comfortable to say that since I entered the class my English skills are better and I practiced a lot of grammar which was my weak point. My teachers Miriam and Ankie are always helping us with a smile. I really recommend if you are B2 level to join the FCE class. Take the challenge and do your best!


My name is EMILY. I am Brazilian. After 4 months studying in general classes I decided to change to FCE. My reason for this decision is just because I was looking for something more intensive and more challenging. And I found it! In FCE you follow two chapters of the book per week and you are always given extra exercises related to the book. It is harder than a general and becomes more challenging as time passes. Another good thing is the class atmosphere. All the students have the same objective and the class can be a lot of fun. If you have a long time in CEC and you don’t know exactly what you want, the FCE course could be a good choice for you.


My name is TOMOMI and I am from Japan. In the FCE class we have the same teachers and classmates for 8 weeks. This was good for me. We had a good atmosphere and a lot of fun in class .It was so comfortable. Before I changed to FCE class from general classes I thought my worst point was listening. But I realised that my worst part was in fact vocabulary. I thought except for me all my classmates had good and varied vocabulary. So I tried hard to improve my vocabulary. And my teacher told me my vocabulary has improved! In general classes I never compared myself with my classmates but in FCE I often did this. It was good for me to keep my motivation and to challenge myself with others who were of the same level or sometimes even higher. I’d really recommend changing course to FCE for students who want the challenge of something new or have difficulty keeping their motivation for learning English.


My name is DONGYOON YANG from South Korea. With FCE there are many positives. You can improve your English overall. Unlike TOEIC which is very popular in some countries like mine, there is speaking and writing in FCE. I was able to improve my spoken English as well as my written English. Additionally, the teachers of the class are very competent and they are kind and keen to help you. The sole purpose of the class is to pass the exam and the class is full of students who study very hard. If you study hard like them it is best otherwise you are not just wasting your time but also you are bothering other students who are struggling to pass the exam. I would recommend the FCE if you are ready to cooperate with other students to pass the exam, if not please reconsider. I hope this will help you decide. Good luck!


Hello my name is DAVID from Germany. I decided to do a four week general course at CEC. When I was travelling to Cork I thought about an exam class to challenge myself more. So on my first day it was no problem to change to an FCE course. The staff helped me and they were really nice. The class was already running for 4 weeks and therefore they had already done a lot of practice but it was no problem for me. My English level fit really well into the class level. Unfortunately I couldn’t apply for the exam because the application deadline was passed when I arrived. Right now I am in my last week of the course and I am really satisfied with my improvement. I can definitely recommend this course but better to apply for the exam early!


Hello! My name is ANA. I’m from Spain. I’m 23 years old. I needed to improve my English so I came to CEC. I started a general B2 course but my teacher told me about FCE. Masters programmes in Spain require FCE. So I didn’t have any doubts. We get a lot of homework but my two teachers have made it easier, they always remember not to give us our writing homework together at the same time! I have learned so much and without the course I could not do the exam. It is not easy so you should only do this course if you are really interested in the exam.


Hi my name I SEONGKYU from South Korea. I was a little bored in my general class so when my classmate introduced me to FCE and said it would improve my speaking I decided to change class. I had no real expectations before joining the class. Most students come from B2 or higher levels and therefore they have good English skills. This made me try harder than ever before to follow them. In addition I have a little deafness so I had to spend more time studying than others. This is my last week and I am relaxed about the exam next week. I have improved my English skills and I really appreciate my teachers and classmates who helped me. Even if I fail the exam I will not regret choosing the class. I will prepare another course and try again. I would recommend FCE to people who get bored with general classes and to study more and harder. You will improve your English and have a good time.


My name is DAUAM. I am from Brazil. I’ve studied in CEC since August 2014. I had studied in general classes for a long time and I wanted something with more focus. When I heard about the FCE class I decided to change from B2  + . This course is harder than general and I also work as an au pair in the afternoons and at weekends. So it is a challenge to organise my time between study and work. I’ve managed to come class every day and do all my homework. I get good marks in my tests and I have improved writing skills a lot. The teachers are great, very friendly and helpful. Even though I don’t feel prepared to do the exam now, I think I can improve more and do the exam in June.


Hello my name is LUCIA Martinez. I AM 24 years old and I am from Spain. I am a primary school teacher in Spain and I need English for my job. I arrived in Ireland in September 2014. I am an au pair because I need to earn money to live here. The school recommended that I spend time in general classes before FCE so I did that. When I was B2 level I moved to FCE. Sometimes I don’t have as much time as I would like to study. It has been difficult to juggle my work with my studies. But it is worth the effort. For me the course has been difficult but I have improved my skills. I am going to wait to take the exam in June because I will have more time to practise and will feel better prepared.


I hope this information will help you in your decision.  The next FCE course at CEC begins on the 17th March 2015.If you have any further questions make an appointment to talk to somebody in the academic team. Good Luck.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s