The Cambridge English First examination is part of a suite of general English examinations produced by Cambridge English Language Assessment. Within the five levels, Cambridge English First is at level B2 in the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The Cambridge English First examination is widely recognised in commerce and industry, as well as in individual university faculties and other educational institutions.
The structure of Cambridge English First
The Cambridge English First examination consists of four papers.
Reading and Use of English (1 hour 15 minutes)
This paper consists of seven parts, with 52 questions. For Parts 1 to 4, the test contains texts with accompanying grammar and vocabulary tasks, and separate items with a grammar and vocabulary focus. For Parts 5 to 7, the test contains a range of texts and accompanying reading comprehension tasks.
Writing (1 hour 20 minutes)
This paper consists of two parts which carry equal marks. In Part 1, which is compulsory, candidates have to write an essay of between 140 and 190 words, giving their opinion in response to a task. In Part 2, there are three tasks from which candidates choose one to write about. The range of tasks from which questions may be drawn includes an article, an email / letter, a report and a review. In this part, candidates have to write between 140 and 190 words.
Listening (approximately 40 minutes)
This paper consists of four parts. Each part contains a recorded text or texts and some questions, including multiple-choice, sentence completion and multiple-matching questions. Each text is heard twice. There is a total of 30 questions.
Speaking (14 minutes)
This paper consists of four parts. The standard test format is two candidates and two examiners. One examiner takes part in the conversation while the other examiner listens. Both examiners give marks. Candidates will be given photographs and other visual and written material to look at and talk about. Sometimes candidates will talk with the other candidate, sometimes with the examiner, and sometimes with both.
The overall Cambridge English First grade is based on the total score gained in all four papers. All candidates receive a Statement of Results which includes a profile of their performance in each of the four skills and Use of English. Certificates are given to candidates who pass the examination with grade A, B or C.
Candidates who achieve grade A receive the Cambridge English First certificate stating that they demonstrated ability at Level C1. Candidates whose performance is below Level B2, but falls within Level B1, receive a Cambridge English certificate stating that they have demonstrated ability at Level B1. Candidates whose performance falls below Level B1 do not receive a certificate.