How is the First Certificate structured?

Here is an explanation of the different sections and topic you’ll encounter and need to understand the day of the exam! Below are the different types of problems you’ll find on the exam:

How many different parts are on the exam?

The First Certificate is made up of 5 parts:

Reading: section that tests your ability to read a variety of different types of passages in English (e.g. literature, news. . .)

Writing: part of the exam which evaluates your ability to write in English

Use of English: in this part you’ll need to demonstrate that you know how to construct and/or complete sentences in English to get an idea of whether you know how to use the language correctly.

Listening: listening test

Speaking: this is the part where you’ll need to demonstrate your skills in spoken English.

Each part contributes 20% of your final score.

Reading Test

In this section you need to read 3 different types of passages and answer related comprehension questions. You’ll respond to a total of 30 questions divided into 3 parts, reading a total of about 2000 words (around 500 to 700 in each part):

Part 1 Multiple Choice – each question has 4 possible answers to choose from (A, B, C or D).

Part 2 Gapped Text – you’ll complete a phrase which is missing at least one word, selecting the best word from the list provided.

Part 3 Multiple Matching – you match a question with the appropriate paragraph.

Writing test

In this section you’ll be presented with two different types of problems:

Part 1: first you’ll read a brief passage of about 160 words and then write a letter or an email, using bits of information mentioned in the initial excerpt. You’ll need to demonstrate that you know how to describe things and situations, express opinions, pardon yourself, thank others, justify your behaviour, compare, persuade, or make suggestions.

Part 2: you’ll write 150-180 words, given the choice between a persuasive piece, a newspaper article, a literary analysis, a business letter, a fantasy story, or possibly something else.

Use of English Test

This portion is composed of 4 parts:

Part 1: multiple choice clause, gap-fill, or fill-in-the-blank, choosing from 4 possible words provided.

Part 2: short answer or fill-in-the-blank.

Part 3: word formation requires you to fill in 10 blanks in a passage, using the derivative of a word (based on its root), shown in parenthesis at the end of a sentence.

Part 4: key word transformation offers a sentence followed by a keyword, and a second sentence with a blank you need to fill in. Maintaining the same meaning as the first sentence, re-write the second sentence using 5 words or less.

Listening test

Here are the types of problems you’ll find on the listening portion:

Part 1: multiple choice, where you’ll listen to a series of different 30-second recordings, and then answer a multiple-choice question, choosing between 3 options (A, B, or C).

Part 2: sentence completion, where you’ll listen to a 3-minute monologue or dialogue and then complete sentences with the information you heard.

Part 3: multiple matching. You’ll listen to statements and monologues each lasting 30 seconds. You’ll then need to indicate which speaker said which statements in the recording.

Part 4: multiple choice where you’ll listen to a 3-minute dialogue and answer 7 multiple-choice questions.

Speaking test

The speaking portion consists of 4 parts and is done in pairs, so you’ll be assigned a partner from among your peers.

1- Interview. The examiner asks you questions about yourself and you answer.

2- Long Turn. The examiner gives you two photographs and you talk about them with your partner for 1 minute. Afterwards the examiner asks you questions about what you’ve said to your partner.

3- Collaborative Task: You’ll talk to your partner, basing the conversation on the photographs you’ve been given, and you’ll make a decision together about the topic you’re presented with.

4- Discussion: the discussion you began in the 3rd part with your partner continues and is eventually brought to a close by the examiner.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.