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Cambridge English: First for Schools is an upper-intermediate level qualification. It proves you can use everyday written and spoken English for work or study purposes.

Cambridge English: First for Schools is a version of Cambridge English: First  that is particularly targeted at the interests and experiences of school-aged learners. It is at the same level as Cambridge English: First, and follows the same format.

Because it is based on familiar topics and situations, this exam gives students the confidence to use their English in the real world, and inspires them to move on to further qualifications or to use their English skills for study and employment opportunities.

What level is Cambridge English: First for Schools?

Cambridge English: First for Schools is set at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Reaching this level means a student can:

  • communicate effectively face to face, expressing opinions and presenting arguments
  • write clear, detailed English, expressing opinions and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different points of view
  • follow the news
  • write letters, reports, stories and lots of other types of text.

What is assessed in Cambridge English: First for Schools?

The updated exam (for exam sessions from January 2015) is made up of four papers. The overall performance is calculated by averaging the scores achieved in Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Use of English. The weighting of each of the four skills and Use of English is equal.


Reading and Use of English





1 hour 15 min.

1 hour 20 min.

About 40 min.

14 min. per pair of candidates


7 parts / 52 questions

2 parts

4 parts / 30 questions

4 parts


Students need to be able to understand a range of texts, including how they are organised and the opinions and attitudes expressed in them. The texts will be from sources familiar to school-aged learners, such as magazines, articles, fiction and advertisements, but targeted at the interests of students.

Students’ use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well they can control their grammar and vocabulary.

Students are required to produce two pieces of writing. The first piece is compulsory and will be an essay of 140–190 words. For the second, they can choose from an article, email/letter, essay, review or story of 140–190 words.

Requires being able to follow and understand a range of familiar spoken materials, such as news programmes, public announcements and other sources, but targeted at the interests of school-aged learners.

A face-to-face test taken with one or two other candidates and an examiner. Students have to show how well they can produce spontaneous spoken language, talking with either the examiner, the other candidate, or by themselves.

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