This is an important question because taking a Cambridge exam takes time and money. That is why when we finally decide to take the exam, we want to pass it the first time. There are certain signs which we can consider which will help us predict the outcome of our exam.

The first way is obvious; practising at home by doing exercises is a good way to know how well prepared we are. It is not enough to just about pass the exercises. We must bear in mind that nerves can play a factor in taking an exam. Normally we should expect our exam result to be 10-20 points lower than what we get at home. Once we pass 3 or 4 mock exams in a row, we have a high probability of passing. The criteria for passing are the following:

 

English Qualifications — The Cambridge English Exams

 

TITLE MARK LEVEL
FCE 160 — 172

173 — 179

180 — 190

Grade C (pass) / Level B2

Grade B (v.Good) / Level B2

Grade A (excellent) / Level C1

CAE 180 — 192

193 — 199

200 — 210

Grade C (pass) / Level C1

Grade B (v.good) / Level C1

Grade A (excellent) / Level C2

CPE 200 — 212

213 — 219

202 — 230

Grade C (pass) / Level C2

Grade B (v.good) / Level C2

Grade A (excellent) / Level C2

 

We recommend practising until you get 10-15 points more than is required to pass the exam (recommnded FCE 175, CAE 195, CPE 215).

 

The clock and the scales

One very important thing that keeps many people from getting their certificate is time management. Not only is it important to practise taking exams and passing them, we must see how long it takes us to do them. Time management is especially important in ‘reading’ and ‘writing’; the other aspects are more guided and therefore we don’t have as much control over time.

 

Title Qualifications Total Time Exercises Time
FCE Reading

Writing

1h 15m

1h 20m

7

2

10-11 minutes

40 minutes

CAE Reading

Writing

1h 30m

1h 30m

8

2

11-12 minutes

45 minutes

CPE Reading

Writing

1h 30m

1h 30m

7

2

12-13 minutes

45 minutes

 

Title Qualifications Total Time
FCE Listening

Speaking

40m

14m

CAE Listening

Speaking

40m

15m

CPE Listening

Speaking

40m

16m

 

With this data in mind, we can calculate the time we need to do each exercise. Again, you have to take nerves into account. You have to control your nerves and not waste too much time on a single exercise. If we get stuck on an exercise, it is better to continue with the exam and come back to it when we have finished. It is better to answer the other questions and not waste all our time on it.

 

In conclusion, practise is our ally whereas nerves are our enemy. If we manage to control them and we have several exams behind us, the certificate is practically in our hands. Cambridge English Exam CourseCallan School of English.

 

Jordi N.
Callan Team

Referencias:
. Saez C. 2013. ‘Superar el estrés de los exámenes’ — La Vanguardia
. Furlan, L., Sánchez-Rosas, J., Heredia, D., Piemontesi, S., Illbele, A. & Martínez, M. (2012). ‘Estrategias de aprendizaje y afrontamiento en estudiantes con elevada ansiedad frente a los exámenes’. Anuario de Investigaciones de la Facultad de Psicología, 1(1), 130-141.
. Arias, J.L. 2019. ‘Consejos para aprobar el First Certificate Exam (B2)’. Blog — Callan School of English.