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Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE)

FCE booklet Guide for English language teachers

By Estefane Oy Pech ESTEFANE OY PECH 2013

Preface This booklet is designed to help English language teachers who are preparing their students for the FCE exam. It includes general information about the exam. It also includes beneficial advice for your students about what to take into account on the exam day to get the desired result. Contents 

Cambridge First Certificate in English(FCE) 2

Why take the FCE?


About the FCE


Get to know the exam Paper 1 Reading


Paper 1 Reading examples


Paper 2 Writing


Paper 2 Writing examples


Paper 3 Use of English


Paper 3 Use of English examples

12 Paper 4 Listening 13 Paper 4 Listening examples 17 Paper 5 Speaking 18 Paper 5 Speaking examples of pictures


Why take the FCE? 1) Employers worldwide recognise the FCE. This means that the person can use English for small work-related tasks and even undertake an internship. 2) The result can be of support to an application to some degree and diploma courses. 3) Passing the FCE is perfect preparation to take the CAE 4) The certificate you will receive upon passing this exam has unlimited validity. About the FCE FCE (First Certificate in English) is an exam set by University of Cambridge ESOL examinations. The FCE is ideal for people who need to use English for work and study purposes. First Certificate in English is an examination at an intermediate level requiring competence in all the language skills, set at level B2 of the Council of Europe's Common Framework for languages. Speakers of this level are thought as being able to use English adequately in most everyday situations like exchanging basic information, asking and answering questions, for example. To have an idea of the different skills that a user of this level can perform, the Common European Framework provides the following descriptions: Independent user -Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. B2

- Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. - Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a view point on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options


Get to know the exam The exam consists of 5 sections which are commonly known as papers.

There are 5 Grades for the examination: A, B or C are passes but candidates who receive a D or E do not receive certificates. Candidates will receive a statement of results, showing how they performed in each of the five papers. Paper 1 Reading (1 hour) Divided into 3 parts, this paper tests how the candidates read and understand texts taken from fiction and non-fiction books, journals newspapers and magazines. They are expected to be able to show understanding of gist, detail and text structure, and deduce meaning. Part 1: a text with some multiple-choice questions and each question has four options (A, B, C or D) but there is only one correct answer. In this part the candidates show that they have understood the details of a text, including opinions and attitudes. Part 2 (gapped text): there is a text with some empty spaces, commonly known as gaps. Here the candidate has to choose the correct sentence for each gap from a set of sentences given after the text. It is important that the candidates check each option carefully so that the completed paragraph makes sense in the passage as a whole. Here the candidates are tested on how well they can understand the structure and follow the development of a text. Part 3: the candidates will look at a series of questions and a long text or maybe several short texts, to read. For each question they have to decide which text or part of the text mentions some specific information. How to prepare for the FCE Reading test -Read widely texts such as newspaper and magazine articles, reports, fiction, advertisements, correspondence, informational material (brochures, guides, etc.) -Read the instructions carefully before you start -Read all the text before you answer any questions


PAPER 1 READING EXERCISES You are going to read a newspaper article about a day in the life of a footballer. Choose the most suitable heading from the list A-I for each part (1-7) of the article. There is one extra heading which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0). Mark your answers on the separate answer sheet.


Domestic matters


Time off


All players are different


Putting in the practice


Working together


Keeping my standard up


What makes a good player


Not my choice


My day starts


A day in the life of Jim Barber, Scottish Footballer

Paper 2 Writing (1 hour 30 minutes) In this paper, the candidates will show how able they are to produce two different pieces of writing. They will be asked to write non-specialised pieces like letters, articles, reports, compositions and reviews of 120-180 words. The paper contains two parts. In part 1, candidates are asked to complete a compulsory task, in other words, it is a question that all candidates have to answer. Candidates will have to write a transactional letter, which means that it is a response to a letter or email and some notes. So, they will be given input material on which to base their piece of writing. Read carefully each of the questions. Think of the desired reaction on your reader, and the purpose of the letter or email to get started. Be aware of the limit of words which is between 120-150 words. It is preferable not to exceed the limit number but try to get close to the maximum.

In part 2, candidates have the chance to choose only one option. They can choose from question 2 to 4 and write about the following: an article, a non-transactional letter, a report, a discursive composition, a short story. They can also choose question 5 which consists of writing an article, an informal letter, a report or a composition based on reading one book of the five prescribed in a list. Use a variety of words and expressions to link sentences in your writing to create a sequence or show a contrast, for example. Choose an appropriate register and range of vocabulary. Prove you can organize their writing in such a way that is coherent and easy to read. Write carefully and in a clear way, so that the examiner can read their answers without any trouble.

Set texts for Cambridge English: First until December 2013

ďƒ¨ William Thackeray: Vanity Fair (Black Cat or any edition) ďƒ¨ Mary Stewart: This Rough Magic (OUP)


Paper 2 Writing examples WRITING PART 1 You must answer this question. Write your answer in 120-150 words in an appropriately style. Letter of complaint Q: You invited your friend to a fancy restaurant. You found their advertisement in the local newspaper and it looked convincing. Unfortunately, the place did not meet your expectations and you were disappointed. Write a letter to Mrs Talker, the manager of the restaurant, and ask for some money back. Advertisement: Restaurant 'Romantica' is the best place you can meet your friend and spend a nice evening in a good company. The place is designed to ensure lots of privacy. Comfortable armchairs and quiet soothing music in the background make the place perfect for those tired of everyday rush. Discreet service is our first priority. Our menu is created by people who worked for the best restaurants in the world. Great choice of vegetarian dishes. Come and enjoy! Satisfaction guaranteed!

WRITING PART 2 Write an answer to one of the questions 2-5 in this part. Write your answer in 120-180 words in an appropriate style. 2 You have seen this announcement in an international magazine. My best childhood memory Tell us about an unforgettable experience in your childhood and say why it is so important to you. The best article will get a book prize

Write your article 3 A group of American students is going to participate in a workshop organised by the school where you learn English. They have never been in your town before, so their tutor, Mr. Franklin, has asked you to write a report about places that are worth visiting in the area. In your report, you should describe the places and explain why you think they may be of any interest to the group. Write your report 4 You have had a class discussion on students and job. Your teacher has now asked you to write a composition giving your opinions about the following statement: Students should do a part-time job. Write your composition 5 Answer one of the following two questions based on one of the titles below. Write the letter (a) or (b) as well as the number 5 in the question box, and the title of the book next to the box. Either (a) A popular newspaper is looking for the best news story about a sensational event in the book. Write your story telling the event a day after it happened. Or (b) Vanity Fair- William Thackeray After Becky Sharp completed her studies, she is determined to make her way in

ESTEFANE PECH 2013 Write an essay describing how her ambition to be society andOY to live well financially. rich changed her.

Marking system Band 1

Lack of organization, lack of vocabulary, lack of control of grammar, irrelevant answer, question not understood, no understanding of register.

Band 2

Although the task is attempted, communication is limited, many errors make it difficult to understand, poorly organized, register inconsistent.

Band 3

All content points are included, ideas are properly organized, linking words used, correct register is attempted. Errors will be present but will not stop the reader from understanding.

Band 4

Ideas are clearly organized & linked together. All points are included. Shows good range of vocabulary & structure, an understanding of the appropriate register is demonstrated and is consistent. Grammatical or spelling mistakes do not stop the reader from understanding.

Band 5

The candidate’s writing full achieves the task. All points are included and expanded. Synonyms are used showing a wide range of structures and a rich vocabulary. Errors are few, do not stop understanding & are probably due to ambitious attempts at difficult structures. The register is consistent and appropriate to task

Paper 3 Use of English (1 hour 15 minutes) This paper tests candidates’ knowledge of how the English language works. It focuses on grammar and vocabulary tasks. These include filling gaps, transforming words and phrases, and identifying errors in texts. There are four parts. In part 1, candidates will have to look at a text in which there are some missing words or phrases (gaps) and they will have to choose the correct answer for each gap from four possible answers (A, B, C or D). Part 2 is a text in which there are some missing words and the candidates have to think of a correct word for each gap. In part 3, there is a text containing 10 gaps, each gap means that there is a word missing and the candidate needs to complete the sentence correctly by changing the word given (prompt) at the end of the line in such a way that makes sense. Finally, in part 4 of this paper, there is a sentence followed by a key word (sometimes highlighted in bold or in capital letters) and a second sentence which has a gap in it. Here, candidates have to complete the second sentence so that it means the same as the first sentence, using a maximum of five words and including the key word.


ESTEFANE OY PECH 2013 B continue B coming

9 A carry 10 A advancing


In search of orcas


They set off early, but in the first two hours only saw one dolphin, so the guide (8) ……John to turn back. John wanted to (9) ….on trying. However, because he was convinced their patience would be rewarded. Than, suddenly, as they were (10) ….a small island, a pod of around fifteen orcas emerged just a few metres away- a

John was able to (3) ……his lifetime ambition when he visited Canada last year. (4) …….going on a typical whale-watching boat trip, John decided to (5) ….for services of a guide to take him out on a kayak, a small canoe. ‘I must admit that I felt (6)…..frightened at the prospect of being in the middle of a pod of whales, protected only by something that (7) …….me of a plastic bathtub’, said John.

Orcas, also (0)…….as killer whales, have always held a certain fascination for John Clark. It all began when his parents told him stories about sea monsters. His desire to see orcas (1) …….when he learnt at school that they are in (2) ……intelligent, gentle creatures.


12 A away

B over

B threatened

B insisted

8 A suggested


11 A scared

B resembles

7 A compares


B rather

A known B called C named D titled

6 A scarcely


B rent

5 A hire


B By means of

4 A On account of

B reach

B turn

2 A time 3 A fulfill

B increased

1 A rose

Mark your answers on the separate answer sheet.

There is an example at the beginning (0).

For questions 1-12, read the text below and decide which answer (A, B, C or D) best fits each gap.

Part 1

C up

C worried

C moving

C follow

C advised

C reminds

C hardly

C pay

C Except for

C obtain

C particular

C added

D out

D endangered

D approaching

D remain

D persuaded

D appears

D more

D purchase

D instead of

D succeed

D fact

D extended


PART 2 USE OF ENGLISH For questions 16-30, read the text and think of the word which best fits each space. Use only one word in each space. There is an example at the beginning (0). Write your answers on the separate answer sheet. Example:


who The safety razor

who It was K.C. Gillette, a travelling hardware salesman in the USA, (0).……..invented the safety razor. Gillette was shaving (16) ………..morning in 1895 when he suddenly realised that his traditional long-bladed razor was neither efficient (17)……safe. He noticed that only a short length of the opened blade was used, and realised just (18) …….dangerous the razor wasit could easily cut somebody. Also, (19) ………a busy man, Gillette disliked wasting the time it (20) ……..him each day to sharpen his blade. Why not, reasoned Gillette, create a razor blade that never (21) sharpening, was exactly the right size and was cheap (22) ……to be thrown away when it wore (23)…….out? Gillette contacted an engineer, William Nickerson, and (24)……two of them managed to perfect what they called ‘double-edged safety blade’, (25) …… fitted into a specially designed holder with a handle. The steel blades were guaranteed to stay sharp for twenty shaves, and were sold in packs of twelve. Gillette (26) ………. up his Safety Razor Company in 1901 and the first razors went (27) …….. sale in the USA in 1904. The company carried out an advertising campaign in newspapers and gentlemen’s magazines in the USA and Europe (28) …………..that as many people as (29) ……….would be aware of this new invention. By 1906, ninety thousand razors and twelve millions blades (30) ……..been sold.


PART 3 USE OF ENGLISH For questions 35-42, complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence, using the word given. Do not change the word given. You must use between two and five words, including the word given. Here is an example.

(0) A very friendly taxi driver drove us into


town (39) The film will have started, so it’s not worth DRIVEN

going to the cinema now.

We……………………… a very friendly taxi driver


The gap can be filled by the words ‘were

The film will have started,

driven into town by’, so you write:

so........................................ in going to the cinema now.

Example (0) WERE DRIVEN INTO TOWN BY (40) Roberto arrived late this morning because (35) Nobody ever heard anything of David

his train was delayed

again. TIME WAS If the train……………………………………Roberto Nothing…………………………………David again (36) They haven’t finished preparing your food. STILL Your food………………………………….prepared (37) I was not familiar with that kind of computer. WHICH It was a ………………………………………..familiar with. (38) This is the first time he has done something worthwhile. NEVER


would not have arrived late this morning. (41) Although the police chased them, the thieves didn’t get caught. EVEN The thieves managed to get……………………the police chased them. (42) ‘I have an interview tomorrow, so I ought to leave soon,’ Yannis said. BETTER I have an interview tomorrow, so I .................................... soon,’ Yannis said.

PART 4 USE OF ENGLISH For questions 25-34, read the text below. Use the word given in capitals at the end of some of the lines to form a word that fits in the gap in the same line. There is an example at the beginning (0). Write your answers on the separate answer sheet. Example: (0) SELECTION WALKING HOLIDAYS The Real Walkers Company offers a (0)….of small group walking


holidays which explore some delightful hidden corners of Europe, the Americas and Australasia. There is something for everyone to enjoy on these holidays, (25) ……of age or level of (26) ….. The


brochure includes various destinations and a range of itineraries.


These range from sightseeing tours of (27)…….cities to undemanding walking trips in unspoilt coastal and country


regions and, for the more (28) ……..traveller, challenging mountain or hill-walking expeditions.


But it would be (29) ……to give the impression that these are just about walking. According to the brochure, an (30)…..of walking


is often the thing that brings together a group of like-minded people, who share the (31) ……of good companionship in




The company believes that its tour leaders are they to its success.


These people are (33) ……..trained and are particularly keen to (34) …….that each individual traveler makes the most of their





Paper 4 Listening (about 40 minutes) In this section, the candidates listen to an audio recording of, for example, interviews, discussions, lectures and everyday conversations. The test focuses on how well the candidate can understand things like the gist of a conversation, specific information, the speaker’s feelings, attitudes and opinions, etc. The first part of the test contains a series of short unrelated extracts from monologues or exchanges between interacting speakers. There is one multiple-choice question per extract. Part 2 is a monologue or text involving interacting speakers and lasting approximately 3 minutes. The candidates then need to complete 10 sentences. They can listen to the audio twice. Next, we have part 3 of the test. In this part, they will hear five speakers. Each speaker talks about a related topic. They need to read the questions carefully before they listen. The audio will be played twice. Finally, in part 4, the candidates will listen to a monologue or text involving interacting speakers and lasting approximately 3 minutes. There are seven multiple-choice questions given. The audio will be played twice. Some suggestions for your students -As a general tip, read all parts of the question before the listening starts -You can make notes on the question paper if you need -Make sure you fill in the answer sheet carefully -Don’t panic if you don't get everything the first time


PART 1 LISTENING EXAMPLES You’ll hear people talking in eight different situations. For questions 1-8, choose the best answer (A, B, or C) 1. You hear someone talking about blogs on the radio. What are the advantages of blogs? A they provide a more balanced point of view B they are more interesting than traditional media C they give a more honest account of stories 2. You hear someone talking on the radio about lie detection. How is it possible to detect when people are lying? A They signal the lie with their voice B They make small movements C They act differently from usual 3. You hear a teacher talking to a student. Why is the teacher talking to the student? A to give a warning B to correct a mistake C to make a suggestion 4. You hear a woman talking about her job. What does she dislike about her job? A her work is seasonal B she doesn’t get enough time off C she dislikes her boss


5. You hear someone talking about an art exhibition. What is being exhibited? A Marine and Landscape paintings B Cartoons about people’s lifestyles C Historical paintings of a town 6. You hear the weather forecast on the radio. What will the weather be like in the south? A windy with showers B cool and wet C cloudy with sunny spells 7. You hear someone talking about travelling abroad. Which option did he choose? A the cheapest option B the most convenient option C the quickest option 8. You hear someone talking about performing in a singing contest. How does she feel about the contest? A nervous B grateful C proud


PART 2 LISTENING EXAMPLES You will hear a radio report about a new type of air transport. For questions 1-10, complete the sentences. Write no more than three words and/or a number. 9. It will take 37 hours for the new form of transport to travel from London to___________. 10. Unlike crowded jets, the Aircruise will allow passengers to travel in _______________. 11. The Aircruise can travel at low altitudes if there is something ___________________. 12. Hydrogen fuels the airship and also provides_____________ for the people on board. 13. The airship disaster at Hindenburg killed__________________people. 14. Scientists are keen to develop transport options which are both _________________ and environmentally friendly. 15. The Aircruise will carry a total of ________________ passengers. 16. The luxury features on board include private apartments, a bar and a______________. 17. Compared to airports, the Aircruise has the potential to land closer to_____________. 18. The concept is getting a lot of attention from a Korean company which makes _______. PART 3 LISTENING You’ll hear five different people talking about computer games. For questions 1-5, choose from the list of their views on computer games. Use each option only once. There is one extra option which you do not need to use. A the nature of computer games could benefit society B restrictions are discouraging gamers from buying games legally C too many children are addicted to online games D computer games prevent children learning other things E game regulators need to take several things into account

Speaker 1


Speaker 2


Speaker 3


Speaker 4


Speaker 5


F people are unnecessarily worried about the harmful effects of games


PART 4 LISTENING You will hear a radio interview with the actor and film director Charles Martin. For questions 24-30, choose the best answer (A, B, or C) 24 How did Charles feel about acting in the TV series called Cowboys? A worried that he would never play a different part. B delighted to have secure work for some years. C surprised that he was earning quite a low salary. 25 What does Charles say about the first film he acted in? A the work was not as enjoyable as he had expected. B the part involved travelling to a number of different cities. C the role was quite similar to another he had played. 26 Why did Charles decide to play Miguel in a very simple way? A he felt he knew how the character would behave. B he was trying to copy the actors in old silent films. C he had no choice because there was not much dialogue. 27 When Charles played the detective in the film The Good Cop, he A made use of his real feelings in the role B was unhappy about the way his part developed C showed that he could represent strong emotion in his acting 28 In the first film he directed, Charles offered a part to John Dawson because he A hoped to get advice on how to direct it. B thought this would help his friend’s career. C knew John had experience in comedy films. 29 For Charles, working with actors is like conducting an orchestra because A there needs to be a lot of time for actors to practice their parts B it is not easy to get a group of actors to work together well C good actors may interpret their parts in unexpected ways.


30 Why does Charles like to film just one or two versions of each scene? A it leads to a reduction to the overall costs B it makes the team more confident and efficient C it helps the actors to remember their lines better Paper 5 Speaking (14 minutes) The Speaking Test assesses candidates’ ability to interact in conversational English in a range of contexts. It contains four parts, including an interview section, individual long turns of about one minute, a collaborative task and a discussion. Candidates are provided with material such as photographs and drawings. The speaking test will normally be in pairs. Part 1 consists of a conversation with the examiner in which the candidates are asked some questions about themselves. They may have to talk about past experiences, present situations and plans for the future. Part 2 of the speaking test is called ‘long turn’ since in this part the examiner gives the candidates a pair of photographs to talk about. Each candidate has to speak for 1 minute without interruption. The questions that need to be answered are about the photographs and are normally written at the top of the page. When a candidate finishes speaking, as a second task, the examiner asks the other candidate a short question about what her/his partner talked. So, it is important to listen to what the other candidate says. Part 3 is about a collaborative task. It is a conversation between the candidates. The candidates are given some pictures and a decision-making task to do. So, basically, they will have to talk to each other about the pictures and at the end make a decision. To end the test, in part 4 the candidates will have a discussion about the same topic area as the previous task in Part 3. What can you suggest to your students? -If they do not understand a question or are not sure about the instructions, they should politely ask the examiner to repeat it - A range use of vocabulary is encouraged. For example, if the examiner asks you whether you like music, think of words you know that are part of that area of vocabulary and try to use them (e.g. concert, instrument, rock)


-When the examiner asks you a question, you should give full answers, with reasons and examples, do not reply with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Always give reasons to support your opinions. Explain why you think that way. -When interacting with your partner, try to encourage him/her to talk by asking a question. And vice versa, always respond to your partner’s questions. -Try to sound natural and confident while speaking. Paper 5 Speaking examples of pictures



References: _070312.pdf and _Writing_Paper.pdf



Booklet designed to help English language teachers preparing their students for the FCE exam.