The Cambridge B2 First exam was formerly known as the FCE exam and is an Upper Intermediate English language qualification. Passing the B2 First exam shows that students have mastered the basics of English and should have the necessary language skills to live and work in an English-speaking country or be able to study there at college or university. It demonstrates that students are able to follow the news, express opinions, write letters and compile emails in English. The exam is accepted globally by numerous employers, educational establishments and government departments. It is recognized around the world as a reputable Upper Intermediate qualification in English. There are options of taking the exam online or on paper.
How is the B2 First exam organised?
There are 4 sections related to reading, use of English, writing, listening and speaking and the test takes about 3.5 hours in total.
The ‘Reading’ and ‘Use of English’ sections are combined into 1 exam paper and this section lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are 7 parts to this section. Parts 1, 5, 6 and 7 are ‘Reading’ and parts 2, 3 and 4 are related to ‘Use of English.
The Reading and Use of English paper in the B2 First examination includes multiple choice gap fills where students have to choose correct words from four similar words provided. Another part of this section is word formation where test takers have to use the correct word to fill the gap in a text when a root word is also provided. The Key Word Transformations part is where students have to use key words to complete sentences so that they mean the same as the original sentence. In parts 5 to 7 of this paper students read a series of different text types and answer questions related to them.
A key words transformation question would be something like this:
Despite being cloudy, the weather was surprisingly warm. EVEN
- The weather was surprisingly warm …………………………………. were clouds in the sky.
Do you know the answer? You’ll find the correct answer in the details about GlobalExam near the end of this article!
What are the other sections like?
The listening section of the B2 First exam has 4 parts and lasts about 40 minutes. There are 30 questions and candidates have to try and understand a range of audio recordings of news programmes, presentations and everyday conversations.
The writing section is in 2 parts and requires that candidates produce two pieces of writing which could be letters, reports, reviews or essays.
The B2 First Speaking test has four parts which is done with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners asks you questions and the other examiner listens and makes notes. Be polite to the second examiner as they are the one that have more say on your final score!
How is the test scored?
The score received will be in the form of A, B, C, D, E or U (Fail). A B2 First A grade is required for entry to some universities and a candidate needs to achieve a score of 180–190 in the exam to get this grade. They will then receive the First Certificate in English stating that they demonstrated ability at Level C1. Scores between 160–179 (B to C grades) will be awarded the First Certificate in English at Level B2. Scores between 140 to 159 are awarded a B1 grade. Scores below 139 do not receive a certificate.
Does it matter when or where I take the test?
The paper-based test usually has dates available in March, May, June, August and December and the online test can be taken in February, April, July, August and November. Some test centres only do the paper-based test and similarly with the online version so that will be a factor when choosing a test centre. Other factors to consider are the cost. Differences in price can vary a lot depending on the location of the test.
How much does it cost to take B2 First exam?
Fees are set by individual test centres, but candidates should expect to pay in the region of 220 Euros at some centres in Paris, 170 in London, 215 in Brisbane, Australia and about 210 Euros in Hong Kong.
When do candidates get their test results?
Successful candidates receive a statement of results and a certificate. Universities, employers and other institutions may ask for these as proof of a student’s level.
Results are available to candidates online about a month to six weeks after the paper-based exam and two weeks after the online exam. Candidates scoring above 140 usually receive their certificates within two to three months of their exam.
How should I train for the B2 First Exam?
Students should make sure they thoroughly understand the format and question types of the B2 First test and then do practise tests to ensure they will be confident on the day of the test. They should try to identify any weak areas long before the exam so that they can work on improving their scores but also choose the best resources to practice on. Like any exam, preparation and practise is vital. There are online resources available to get started and companies such as GlobalExam provide practise exercises and mock exams. If you prefer a more traditional method, you can also study using books.
Why choose GlobalExam?
GlobalExam will help prepare candidates taking the B2 First exam by helping organise a study plan and provide the necessary materials for practise. It’s important to have a clear purpose when preparing so GlobalExam will put you on the right path and guide you along the way. With authentic materials, personalized services and realistic, timed practice tests, test takers will have everything they need to do well in the B2 First Exam. You’ll find some key word transformation exercises there too. The answer to the example mentioned earlier in this article is: The weather was surprisingly warm even though there were clouds in the sky.
Motivation is an important factor when getting ready for an exam and GlobalExam provide motivational messages along with our personalized follow-up and progress tracking. In addition to these features, there is a multi-device solution as we realize that our clients may want to study with their smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops depending on their location.
GlobalExam offer free sample materials to give students a sense of the quality of the content in the premium plans. There are free vocabulary and grammar study materials for the B2 First exam. Try out the free materials first and once you are happy to proceed, simply sign up for one of the premium plans to gain access to the full array of tests and practise exercises.
Premium plans offer the following content and services:
- Vocabulary and grammar study sheets
- 48 sample exercises
- 15 training hours
- 3 practice tests under realistic timed test conditions
- A study plan based on your exam date
- Progress tracking with statistics
Come and visit the GlobalExam site right away to start your B2 First exam training!