How to pass the First Certificate English exam


The Cambridge First Certificate English exam can be very difficult, here are some tips to help you succeed!

Enroll in a preparation course

Even if you have studied English for a long time and feel fairly confident in your use of the language I would still highly recommend enrolling on a course.To pass the First Certificate exam, students need to not only demonstrate their level of English is good enough but they must also learn how to pass the exam. This may sound obvious but the way in which First Certificate exams test students can be very tricky, even for native speakers because often a question can seem to have several answers which are factually true but are not the one specific correct answer 

 Also, to pass the First Certificate class you need to really show off your English skills, using a range of grammatical structures, specific vocabulary and the ability to correctly use formal or informal language. A teacher will help you demonstrate your ability to do this.

 Listen to a range of accents

The First Certificate listenings often use a large range of British accents. If you can understand someone from London but have never heard a Welsh or Scottish accent before  then you will find it very difficult to understand the First certificate listenings. Why not listen online to regional British radio stations and try and and get used to some accents you haven’t heard before. Here you can find a directory of radio stations in the UK

 Buy a learner dictionary

The First Certificate readings will incorporate a great deal of vocabulary you may not be familiar with. When reading try to guess the meanings of new words first before looking them up in your learner dictionary (an english-english dictionary-no translations!) Then copy down the new vocabulary into a notebook along with some synonyms. 

 Develop different types of reading

In the exam you won’t have time to read every text in detail you will need to be able to:
-Scan read - move your eye quickly over the text, looking for key works or phrases, this will help you know where to find the answers.
-Skim read - read quickly to get the main points but skip the detail.
-Detailed reading - read every word to learn from the text, you should skim read first as it might help you understand more.

Before your exam, make sure you practice reading lots and try to get faster!

 Practice exams

You can buy or download practice exams online, the more practice exams you have, the more prepared you will be, but also the more confident you will feel. It is important to time yourself when practicing as this will help you get used to the time constraints. 

 Don’t just say what you see!

In the speaking exam students often have to compare two different pictures, for example two different classrooms. Too many students just say what they see...

“there is a man, he is wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans”

STOP! Wait, are you really answering the question??

You need to compare or talk about your impression of the image not just describe it! If you feel very nervous about the speaking part why not watch some youtube videos of other people doing their exam, so you can see what it will be like.

Be imaginative!

 If the examiner asks you a question and your mind goes empty don’t panic! The speaking questions can vary a great deal, maybe you have never thought about “if computers will replace TV in the future” but you still need give a good answer. You can always be a little inventive if it helps, the examiner is not testing if your telling the truth, they’re testing your English!

Be careful with slang!

It’s great if you know some real native language, and you can use some slang but make sure it’s grammatically correct and appropriate and this includes spelling. Even if your native friends use certain words it won’t necessarily mean they’re correct and can be used in your exam. Also remember to think carefully about the question, should you be using formal or informal language? Only ever use slang when writing informally. 

i hope you have found this helpful, if you follow this advice and study hard you are sure to succeed! Good Luck!