Cambridge First exam contents

What does the Cambridge First examination include?

Cambridge English: First ( previously called “First Certificate” or FCE)  is an upper-intermediate (CEFR B2) level qualification. It proves you can use everyday written and spoken English for work or study purposes.


This examination is currently made up of four papers, developed to test your English skills.  It is available in a computer-based format as well as paper-based tests.

Candidates taking the computer-based version take the Reading and Use of English, Writing and Listening parts of the test on screen.

The face-to-face speaking test is the same for both the computer-based and paper-based versions of Cambridge English: First.

There is also a version for young learners, First for Schools. From 2015, Cambridge English: First for Schools exam has had only one set text (recommended reader).

The exam was updated in 2015 and now has:

  • four papers instead of five. Reading and Use of English has been combined into a single paper assessing language knowledge and reading skills, 1 hour 15 minutes in total.
  • an essay task in Writing Part 1 (the informal email option is now an optional task in Part 2)
  • shorter Speaking Part 1 (two minutes, not three).
    Speaking Part 3 (the collaborative task with your examination partner) now includes text instructions but no pictures/photographs.


    Click here for new Cambridge First brief exam guide.

Click here for more information about the CEFR language levels.

(Cambridge English teacher

What is there in the Cambridge First examination?

Paper Content Marks
(% of total)
Reading &
Use of English
(1 hour 15 mins)
7 parts
(3 reading,
4 UoE),
52 qns in total
40% Shows you can deal confidently with different types of text, such as fiction, newspapers and magazines.  Tests your use of English grammar and vocabulary.
(1 hour 20 minutes)
2 parts 20% Requires you to be able to produce two different pieces of writing, such as letters, reports, reviews and short stories.
(about 40 minutes)
4 parts/
30 questions
20% Requires you to be able to follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as news programmes, presentations and everyday conversations.
(14 minutes per pair of candidates)
4 parts 20% Tests your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. You will take the Speaking test with one or two other candidates.

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