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Embassy Teachers 20 August 2015 - by Agata, Embassy English Brighton

9 things you need to know about Cambridge FCE exam

Unsure whether to take a Cambridge FCE exam? Meet Agata, an English Teacher and FCE specialist at our English School in Brighton.  Agata has helped hundreds of students successfully prepare for their FCE exams and as a past exam candidate herself is the perfect person to provide tips and advice.

Agata Cambridge FCE

1. It’s a short but focussed exam course

The Cambridge FCE exam course is spread over a fairly short time period. (9, 10 or 12 weeks, depending on which Embassy school you choose*) Because it’s a short course we help you really focus to learn the skills you need to successfully pass the exam.

2. It’s great for all-round improvement

Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are all worth an equal amount in your final exam FCE score, so we help you improve and make progress in each area.   You’ll also have the opportunity to broaden and develop your grammar and vocabulary.  (Reading & Use of English  = 40%, and Writing, Listening and Speaking skills are all worth 20%)

3. It can help progress your career

fce for busienss

These days, lots of employers want to see proof of your English level. Passing the Cambridge FCE exam means for the rest of your life you can prove to employers you’re the “right quality”.  American Express, Rolls Royce and L’Oréal (UK) Limited are just a few of the companies who currently accept the FCE exam as proof of your English level.

4. It can help you continue with academic study abroad

The FCE certificate exam is recognised by many of the top universities and colleges around the world as proof of your level of English.  You can find out exactly which ones on the official Cambridge website.

5. It’s good exam taking experience

If you’re planning on going to an international university or college, the FCE exam gives you first-hand experience of what an international exam is like.

6. Practise with past papers

To increase your chance of success, make sure you practise using the official papers from the exam board you’re fully prepared and know what to expect. ( Here at Embassy we use official past exam papers from the Cambridge Examination Board.)

7. Warm-up like an athlete!

Just like an athlete, a warm up, can make a big difference.  This is especially important on the day of the speaking exam.  Make sure you practise speaking English with a friend or another candidate before the exam.

8. Try your best and work really hard!

female student in central london classroom

This sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s the students who are weaker at the beginning, but work really hard, who end up getting the best scores.   For me as a teacher, this is one of the most rewarding things.

9. Stay relaxed on the day of the exam

Remember you’ve covered all you need to know in your Exam Preparation classes.  There are no surprises, so just do your best.

My final tip? If you don’t use it; you lose it! After you’ve left your English school, and are no longer surrounded by English every day, remember to keep your skills fresh.  For example, you could watch films and documentaries in English .  Even if you don’t enjoy reading books or newspapers, read articles on English websites or follow an English celebrity or a brand you like on Twitter.

About the Cambridge FCE exam structure

Part 1 – On the first day, you take the Speaking test (14 minutes in total).  In the Speaking Test, you’ll be tested alongside a partner or in a small group.  Expect to speak with the examiner, interact with the other candidates and speak on your own.   The test itself is 14 minutes, but you should allow 1 hour in total.

Part 2 – On a separate day (usually a week later), you take the Reading & Use of English test (1hour 15 minutes), the Writing Test (1 hour 20 minutes) and the Listening test (approximately 40 minutes.) The writing test has two tasks. The first task is an essay; the second task you can choose to write an article, review, report or a letter.   For listening and reading tests you’ll answer multiple-choice-questions on different recordings and printed materials.

Note: The Speaking Test is usually held separately, usually the week before the Reading, Writing and Listening Tests which are all held on the same day.

 FCE Itensive Exam: Key Facts

  • Suitable for Levels: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate or Advanced
  • *Length of course: 9, 10, 11 or 12 weeks (course length varies by Embassy English school)

Need to improve your English for your career or to get into a college or university? Find out exactly when you can take your FCE exam and where you can take it.

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