Practical advice for the day of your Cambridge Exam

The next sitting of the Cambridge exams is nearly here and our students have been working hard to prepare. While it is important to focus on your English language and skills of course, there are some other practical things you can do to help the day of your exam go more smoothly.  If you forget something or make a mistake on the day, it can distract you and make it more difficult to concentrate on the exam papers.

FCE preparation

Here is our advice based on our experience of running the Cambridge exams for over 6 years.

Before the exam

  1. Read your Confirmation of Entry from Cambridge carefully. You should have received this by email. Read all of the attachments to the email.
  2. Your confirmation shows your exam timetable and the venue of your exams. Make sure you know the time and location of your exam. Sometimes the speaking exam is in a different location to the written papers.
  3. If you don’t know exactly where the exam venue is, take time to find it before the day of your exam.
  4. This email also has an attachment with the rules and regulations. Make sure you know what is and isn’t allowed in the exam.
  5. Make sure your photo ID is up to date and don’t forget to bring it with you to ALL parts of your exam. You must bring an original, not a photocopy.
  6. Register with the Cambridge results website. You will receive your results directly from Cambridge not from your exam centre. The instructions for registering will be on your timetable document.


On the exam day

  1. Arrive early. If the written papers start at 9, we recommend being there at 8.30. This advice seems very obvious but in our experience there is always one candidate who is running to make the start of the exam. And often it’s because they didn’t check the venue!
  2. Be patient. There’s a lot of administration before the speaking exam and before the written papers. It’s important that all candidates arrive early and follow the instructions.
  3. Listen to the instructions before each paper. Of course you will be nervous but make sure you listen to the exam staff. If you have a question, ask, the staff are there to help you.
  4. Read the instructions and questions on each paper carefully. Even the best candidates make unnecessary mistakes because they are rushing.
  5. Transfer your answers to the answer sheets. In the Reading and Use of English Paper you do not have extra time at the end to fill in your answer sheet. You must do this during the exam. Our teachers recommend filling in your answers at the end of each section or as you answer each question.
  6. Stop writing immediately when the invigilator tells you to do so. There will be clock in the room so you can see when the paper will finish.
  7. If you have any problems, tell the invigilator immediately.
  8. If you are disappointed with a paper, for example you thought the Reading was too difficult, don’t panic. Try to forget about it and concentrate on the other parts of the exam. Don’t forget it’s the overall result that counts. Besides, you may be surprised with your result.
  9. When you’ve finished the exam, go and celebrate. You worked hard and your English has improved. Relax until the results are released!


Good luck!

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