Last Updated: June 16, 2021

B2 First

B2 First, formerly known as the First Certificate in English (FCE) is an exam offered by the Cambridge Assessment English in England. When a candidate completes this exam successfully, he or she has proved adequacy in the English language. For non-native English speakers, this is a great way to learn English so that one can interact socially with confidence. The examination is chosen by candidates who want to prove that they can communicate effectively in the language including aspects like following the news and writing in a clear and detailed manner in order to express their views. This exam which is widely compared to the TOEFL has an added advantage in the fact that the score report of B2 First does not expire when compared to the latter
The examination is part of the Cambridge English Qualifications and aligns to a particular level of the CEFR. There are two versions of the examination where one is the B2 First for Schools and the other is the B2 First, for General and Higher Education Adult Learners. Both these examinations have the same format but vary in their content and topics of choice.

Who accepts B2 First?

The B2 First certificate is accepted worldwide by employers, universities, and government departments. The score report of this examination is accepted by undergraduate programs in places that use the English medium, especially in non-English-speaking countries. It is also accepted as a language proficiency test by foundation courses, pre-sessional courses, etc. in English-speaking countries.

However, a lot of the universities in the U.S. have not listed it as one of their admission requirements with TOEFL and IELTS being the preferred choices. The list of institutions that accept the B2 First test has been listed in the Global Online Recognition Database. Candidates are advised to go through the Database in order to figure out if the institutions and universities they apply to accept the test results of the examination before taking the test.

Acceptance in the UK

Candidates who are aspiring applicants to the U.K. will find that most of the universities in the U.K. accept the test scores of the B2 First examination. But at the same time, it can be noted that top universities like the Cambridge University and Oxford University do not accept the same. The more popular exams like TOEFL and IELTS are preferred in a global setting. Candidates are then recommended to take the examination if and only if their institution accepts the test. The list of colleges that accept the examination results in the U.K. has been listed on the official website and can be accessed here.

Acceptance in the US

Candidates who wish to take the test and apply in the US will be surprised to find that a lot many colleges in the country accept the B2 First test including colleges like the Auburn University, Berkeley College, California State University, and the State University of New York. Though the top universities often prefer a more common examination like the TOEFL or the IELTS, the B2 First examination is still quite popular among the other colleges in the country. Candidates can choose to take the examination to stand out from the other candidates and also if they need to attend an examination with a test result that doesn’t expire.

Test Sections in B2 First

The B2 First examination contains 4 sections that are used to test the language proficiency level of the candidate in English. The four sections are Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. The question pattern and section divisions for each of the sections are different.

Reading and Use of English

The Reading and Use of English section of the examination is given a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes. The section contains 7 parts in all with a total of 52 questions and focuses on assessing the confidence with which the candidate can approach different types of texts in the language through a clear understanding of grammar and vocabulary.

The length of the texts that candidates will have to read in the section will be a total of 2,200 words. The texts are usually taken from newspapers, magazines, journals, books, promotional and informational material. This section comprises 40% of the total marks in the test and hence is one of the most important sections of the test.

Writing

The Writing section of the examination is provided with a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes for 2 different parts. The candidate will be required to produce two pieces of writing during the duration of the test which can be in the form of a letter, report, review, and even essay.

The first part of this section contains a compulsory question for which they will have to write 140-190 words. The question will contain an essay title and two ideas that are clearly linked to the title. . The candidate will be expected to write an essay about the topic, often adding other ideas to the two that are already mentioned in order to express their opinion regarding the same.

The second part of the section contains 3 questions out of which the candidate can choose one. It will be a situation-based writing task where candidates will be given a choice between different types of writing and each of the choices will contain the information to be included along with the topic purpose and the target reader. Candidates are required to write 140-190 words for this part of the section.

Listening

The Listening section of the test is provided with 40 minutes in order to both listen to the audio recordings and answer the 30 questions spread across 4 parts of the section. The candidate will have to showcase a certain prowess in understanding spoken materials that can be in the form of news programs, presentations, and even everyday conversations.

This section takes up 20% of the marks for the examination and contains recordings which are monologues including answerphone messages, radio broadcasts, news, public announcements, lectures, discussions, interviews, etc. the questions asked based on the audio clips can be multiple-choice, multiple-matching, and sentence completion.

Speaking

The Speaking section of the test is given a total of 14 minutes per pair of candidates and contains 4 parts in all. Candidates will be required to hold face-to-face conversations communicating effectively during the duration of the same.

This section will take up 20% of the overall score and the candidate will be expected to speak with both the examiner and another candidate. The content of the conversation can range from personal information to information relating to various topics where the candidate will have to state their opinions regarding the same.

Scoring in B2 First

Candidates will receive separate scores for each of the different sections of the test and another score for their use of English in the different sections. The five scores are then averaged to provide the candidate with the final score of B2 First. Candidates will be able to view their scores through the official online portal of Cambridge English.

GradeCambridge English Scale Score (140-190) CEFR Level
Grade A180-190C1
Grade B173-179B2
Grade C160-172B2
Level B1140-159B1

Statement of Result

The score report of the B2 First examination is referred to as the Statement of Results. This will contain their individual score in each of the different sections along with their score in the use of English throughout the paper. The total score will also be mentioned in the Statement of Result with the grade they have received for the test. The report will also contain their CEFR level for the examination.

Receiving the Statement of Result

Candidates will be able to receive their Statement of Result within three months of taking the examination. In order to know the exact date of receiving the results, it is advised that the candidate contact their test center. This score report will not expire, unlike other language proficiency tests that are popular.

There is also an option of receiving the results online that has been made available for the convenience of the candidates. In order to avail of this, candidates are requested to sign up for the Free Online Results Service.


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