The Ins and Outs of The FCE Reading and Use of English


The Basics

FCE is equivalent to the B2 CEFR level. It’s also what many people consider to be the first level of fluency in a language. Achieving this level means that your students have the following skills;

  • Good knowledge of most English grammar topics. These are fine tuned in the higher levels but from FCE they get the idea and the practice of most key grammar points.
  • Ability to have a flowing conversation on a wide range of topics. Including improvisation on a topic they are not too familiar with.
  • Good listening and comprehension.
  • Ability to write with few mistakes in the syntax.
  • Self awareness, they are able to recognise their mistakes and correct with little prompting.

The B2 is a milestone for students and is no mean achievement!

Reading and Use of English

Made up of 7 parts, and tests their ability to understand and use their grammar and vocabulary effectively. It makes up 40% of the overall mark and they are allowed 75 minutes to complete all sections.

Part 1 – Multiple Choice Cloze

  • 8 questions, each with a multiple choice answer (A,B,C or D)
  • One mark for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes collocations, verb patterns and expressions.

The thief ________ to stealing the diamonds.

A. Denied

B. Wanted

C. Admitted

D. Said

Part 2 – Open Cloze

  • 8 questions, you must think of the answer as there are no options.
  • One mark for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes auxiliary and modal verbs, prepositions, phrasal verbs and articles.

The temperature in Iceland is very cold in the winter and often drops to _____ zero.

Answer; Below

Part 3 – Word Formation

  • 8 questions, each with a given root word the student must use to form a different part of speech to fit the meaning of the sentence.
  • One mark for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes spelling and parts of speech.

In the factory, the conditions are poor and the ______ are expected to work unsociable hours to keep up with demand. Employ

Answer; Employees

Part 4 – Key Word Transformation

  • 6 questions, each with one full sentence and a partial sentence that students must complete to have the same meaning as the first, while also including a given ‘key word’.
  • 2 marks for each correct answer, usually split between the grammar and the vocabulary aspects of the question.
  • Required knowledge includes idioms, expressions, grammar and vocabulary in general.

The last time I went clubbing was in 2012.


I haven’t been clubbing since 2012

Part 5 – Multiple Choice

  • 6 questions, students must read a text and choose the correct option from a list of 4 possible answers.
  • 2 marks for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes reading for detail as well as overall gist, purpose and attitude.

Part 6 – Gapped Text

  • 6 questions, the student must read a text where 6 sentences have been removed and decide from a list of seven possible sentences where to place them. There is one they do not need to place.
  • 2 marks for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes understanding the overall structure and meaning of the text as well as an understanding of pronouns and text markers.

Part 7 – Multiple Matching

  • 10 questions, the student must read several numbered texts on the same topic as well as 10 questions and decide which text each question is referring to.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer.
  • Required knowledge includes picking out specific, key information and ascertaining opinion and attitude.


This paper is marked in to separate sections. Parts 1,5,6 and 7 make up the reading score out of 42, while parts 2,3 and 4 make up the Use of English score out of 28.

On their statement of results, the two sections will appear as separate marks and will have different percentage and point scores.


  1. How many questions are there in total? 52 questions throughout the entire paper.
  2. How much time is allowed? 75 minutes to answer the questions and also transfer them to the answer sheet.
  3. What type of texts are featured in the exam? Texts habitually come from magazine or newspaper articles, books or promotional material.
  4. Is there a word list for students to study? No. Starting at B2 there are no specifications for vocabulary.
  5. Do they lose marks for an incorrect answer? No, they will just receive no mark for that question, the same as giving no answer at all.
  6. Are words like ‘Don’t’ and ‘Haven’t’ counted as two words. Yes, contractions are two words.
  7. If they think of two possible answers, can they write both. No, students must choose the one they at the most confident with and write that, and only that, on the answer paper.

Any more questions? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll be sure to answer any doubts you still have! Happy Teaching!



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