B2 First Exam - Information & Structure Of The Exam

Go to B2 First section to find exercises to help you prepare for the exam.

1. B2 First Exam: Overview

The B2 First exam, historically known as the First Certificate in English (FCE), is one of the most widely recognized English language qualifications in the world. Established in the 1930s, it has been a benchmark for English language ability for decades, reflecting a rich heritage in the assessment of English communication skills.

Over the years, the exam has evolved to keep pace with changes in language learning and teaching. Today, B2 First is acknowledged globally by many educational institutions, businesses, and government departments, serving as a proof of an individual's ability to live, work, and study in an English-speaking environment. The international recognition of the B2 First exam underscores its importance.

Paper Content Duration
Paper 1
(Reading and Use of English)
Grammar and vocabulary tasks; reading for detail, opinion, tone, purpose, main idea, implication, attitude. 1 hour 15 minutes
Paper 2
Writing various types of texts, such as essays, reports, reviews, and emails. 1 hour 20 minutes
Paper 3
Understanding spoken materials, such as news programmes, presentations, and everyday conversations. About 40 minutes
Paper 4
Interviews, collaborative tasks, decision-making, and discussion on a wide range of subjects. 14 minutes per pair of candidates

2. Who Takes The Exam?

The B2 First exam is designed for learners who have reached an upper-intermediate level of English proficiency and are ready to prove their ability in a wide range of language situations. It is ideal for students preparing for higher education or seeking employment opportunities where language skills are a prerequisite.

3. Summary of the Exam Structure

The B2 First exam is a comprehensive assessment that encompasses four key language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This certification evaluates a candidate's ability to understand complex English texts, communicate effectively in writing, follow and engage in spoken conversations, and speak with fluency and confidence in a variety of scenarios.

Marks (as % of total)

4. B2 First Exam Format

Paper One: Reading and Use of English

Part Task Questions Marks
1. Multiple-choice cloze A text with multiple-choice questions testing vocabulary knowledge. 8 1 per correct answer
2. Open cloze A text with gaps to fill in with one appropriate word for each. 8 1 per correct answer
3. Word formation A text with gaps where a base word must be altered to fit the context. 8 1 per correct answer
4. Key word transformations Given sentences must be rewritten using a key word to keep the same meaning. 6 Up to 2 marks for each correct answer
5. Multiple choice A text followed by multiple-choice questions to assess detailed comprehension. 6 2 marks for each correct answer
6. Gapped text A single text with gaps to be filled from a choice of paragraphs. 6 2 marks for each correct answer
7. Multiple matching Several short texts with multiple matching questions to test for specific information. 10 1 mark for each correct answer

Paper Two: Writing

Part Task Length Format
1. Compulsory question Write an essay with personal opinions on a given topic and ideas. 140–190 words Compulsory task
2. Situationally based writing task Write a text type such as an article, email/letter, report, or review, based on given content points. 140–190 words Choice of task

Paper Three: Listening

Part Task Questions Marks
1. Multiple choice Listen to short monologues or conversations and answer multiple-choice questions. 8 1 mark for each correct answer
2. Sentence completion Listen to a monologue and complete sentences on the question paper. 10 1 mark for each correct answer
3. Multiple matching Listen to a series of monologues and match to related information. 5 1 mark for each correct answer
4. Multiple choice Listen to an interview or discussion and choose the correct answer from options. 7 1 mark for each correct answer

Paper Four: Speaking

Part Task Duration
1. Interview Answer the examiner's questions individually. 2 minutes
2. Long turn Speak about two photographs on your own. 1 minute per candidate
3. Collaborative task Interact with another candidate to complete a task. 3 minutes for the discussion, plus 1 minute for a decision
4. Discussion Discuss various topics with the other candidate based on the task from Part 3. 4 minutes

5. Scoring/Grading

Scoring for the B2 First exam is aligned with the Cambridge English Scale, which provides a detailed account of the candidate's performance. Each of the four papers carries an equal weight of 20% towards the final score, ensuring a balanced assessment of all language skills. The Reading and Use of English papers are taken together, giving 40% of the overall score.

Candidates receive a score for each paper and an overall score on a scale from 140 to 190. This scale is linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), providing an internationally accepted description of language ability. Achieving a score of 160 or above is indicative of a B2 level on the CEFR.

Cambridge English Scale Score Grade/CEFR CEFR Level
180–190 Grade A C1
173–179 Grade B B2
160–172 Grade C B2
140–159 Level B1 B1
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