The B2 first course and Familiarisation with the exam.

FCE First Certificate Course Lesson 1

Dialogue lesson 1

Dialogue 1: Familiarisation with the exam

Emma is a 17-year old girl whose parents have her signed up for the March examination of the FCE. She is getting back into studying as she had given up on it for a while. Now with 3 months to go, she is looking into optimising her preparation time. She has shopped around for the right language school and preparation material. She is also asking around for more advice. As a matter of fact, today, she is seeing her friend Terry who sat the exam recently.

Terry, Emma and Gordon make their way to the local café. They spend over two hours discussing the ins and outs of the FCE. FCE stands for First Certificate of English. It is an exam which covers Use of English, Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing skills. Let’s find out more!

EMMA: Hello Terry! Thanks for agreeing to meet up today. I am so stressed out!

TERRY: No worries Emma! I know how it feels. I only sat the exam 3 months ago. By the way, I hope you don’t mind: I brought a friend along. He is actually an English teacher. He will also be able to advise you on how to prepare for the FCE.

GORDON: Hi there! My name is Gordon. I hope you don’t mind me dropping in like this.

EMMA: Oh God no! By all means, join us! It is nice to meet you Gordon. My name is Emma.

GORDON: Terry has told me all about you. So Emma, when are you taking the exam?

EMMA: I booked the exam for March. So I still have about 3 months to prepare. I am hoping to get a grade B, so 75 to 79%. I don’t want to let my parents down.

GORDON: That is plenty of time! Let’s sit down and draw up a plan. You need to map out your studying time. What grade did you get Terry?

TERRY: I got an A, with 81%!

EMMA: Wow! Sorry to cut in! But an A is between 80 and 100%. That’s truly impressive! Did you stick to a tight schedule too?

TERRY: Yes, indeed I did. Most of my friends only narrowly passed. I was very fortunate, having travelled to many English-speaking countries… I must say my brothers chipped in too. They helped me practise the speaking part.

Vocabulary lesson 1




to agree to

to accept, to consent to, to say yes to


to mind

to object, to be bothered, to care


to sit an exam

to take an exam


to pass an exam

to succeed in an exam


to map out, to draw up

to organise, to design, to outline, to schedule


a grade

a mark, a score


to stand for

to mean, to be an abbreviation of, to symbolise



lucky, blessed with good luck, favoured


to let down

to disappoint


to chip in

to help


to stick to something

to follow, to not move from a subject, to adhere to


to find out

to discover a fact


to be stressed out

to be tense, to be emotionally strained


to cut in

to interrupt


by all means

certainly, of course


to drop in / by / over

to come without an appointment


to shop around

to compare prices


to look into something

to investigate


to sign up (for something)

to commit oneself to a period of education or to a course, to register for something


to get back into something

to become interested in something again


to give up (on something)

to stop trying


to ask around

to ask many people the same question


as a matter of fact

actually, in reality


to narrowly pass an exam

to scrape through an exam


Exam Tips 1


FCE Speaking Test. The day of the exam there are 4 parts in the FCE Speaking test.

This lesson’s exam tip will be about SPEAKING PART 1: in this part the examiner asks you questions. You reply to the examiner, individually (you, then the other student. Or the other student, then you). 

There is no talking with your partner, the other student. Each of you will talk for about 2 minutes. 

This first part is considered a warmer, as it should help you to feel more relaxed for parts 2, 3 and 4 of the speaking test.

To prepare for this part, you can learn vocabulary and set phrases about:

  • Your hobbies: I am keen on… I enjoy spending time…
  • Your work and/or education: my job title is…. I work as a…, I have been with the same company for…
  • Your friends and family: my siblings…
  • Your holidays: vacation…, to travel. 
  • Your sports: I practise sports…, I do sports…, The sports I enjoy are…
  • Your future plans: I would like to…, I am thinking of…, I will…, I am going to…

Useful phrases for asking for clarification:

  • Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean. 
  • I don’t (really) understand.  Can you say that again, please?
  • I’m not (quite) sure what I have to do.  
  • Can I ask a question?/May I ask you something?
  • Do you want me to….?    

Useful phrases for correcting yourself:

  • What I mean is. 
  • What I meant was.  
  • What I’m trying to say is.
  • I would like to rephrase that. I would like to rephrase my statement.
  • Could I rephrase my answer?


  • Do not get stressed.
  • Remain polite: “please”, “may I?”, “could you?”, “thank you”.
  • Ask for clarifications.
  • Use the grammar and vocabulary the examiner uses in his or her questions, i.e: “do you like eating spicy food?” – “Yes, I really like eating spicy food.”
  • How much should you speak? Answer the question then add one or two more details each time.
    Example: “Do you like eating spicy food?” – Yes, I do like eating spicy food. I am keen on hot Indian dishes; one in particular is Vindaloo.”
  • Practise speaking in the weeks leading up to the exam so as to sound natural during the speaking test, and do not use new expressions or grammar structures the day of the exam. Stick to what you know and are comfortable with.

Grammar and Vocabulary recommended Videos

Exercises Lesson 1

Vocabulary Practice

Comprehension Practice

Grammar Practice