Cambridge University's First Certificate Examination (FCE) is probably the most widely respected English learning certificate outside of the United States. Examination centres around the world offer the First Certificate Exam twice a year; once in December and once in June. In fact, the First Certificate is only one of a number of Cambridge examinations aimed at levels from young learners to business English. However, the FCE is certainly the most popular. The tests are given in Cambridge University approved exam centres using Cambridge University approved examiners.
Studying for the First Certificate Exam usually involves a long course. At the school where I teach, a First Certificate preparation course lasts 120 hours. It is a difficult (and long) exam which contains five "papers" including:
- Use of English
Up until now, there have been few resources on the Internet for First Certificate preparation. Luckily, this is beginning to change. The purpose of this feature is to provide you with FREE study resources currently available on the Internet. You can use these materials to prepare for the exam or to check to see if your level of English is right for working towards this exam.
What is the First Certificate Examination?
Before beginning to study for the First Certificate, it is a good idea to understand the philosophy and purpose behind this standardized test. To get up to speed on test taking, this guide to taking tests can help you understand general test taking preparation. The best way to understand the specifics of the FCE is to go straight to the source and visit the introduction to the exam at Cambridge University's EFL site. You can also download the FCE handbook from Cambridge University. For information about where the First Certificate is placed on the European 5-level scale you can visit this informative page .
Now that you know what you will be working towards, it's time to get down to work! The following links lead you to various free practice resources on the Internet.
Use of English
- Spotlight on Paper 3 (Use of English) from Flo Joe
- The Wordbank also from Flo Joe's site
- Sentence Transformation Excercises at ESL.about.com
Listening is a bit of a problem as I haven't been able to find any FCE specific listening practice exercises on the Internet. I would highly recommend you visit the BBC's audio and visual page and listen to or watch various ABC programs using the RealPlayer. The exam is purely British English, so it's best to listen to this classic British radio station.
Finally, here are some links to use to download an entire practice examination.
- Flo Joe's Practice Tests
- Ready for First Certificate (a FCE preparation book published by MacMillan) provides free practice tests of Papers 1, 2 and three emailed to you three times a year.
I hope these resource can help you get an excellent start towards the FCE. For information about other types of Cambridge University English Exams, just visit the site .