Guide to Cambridge English Examinations

International Exams

A Guide To Cambridge English Examinations

Posted 20 December

The Cambridge English Exam

So you have reached a plateau in your English learning and general classes are not challenging you enough... Then maybe one of the Cambridge English examinations is for you. 

There are a few to choose from: CAE, FCE and PET. GCI run all of these quite regularly. It will definitely improve your knowledge and use of English and will make communication easier and will generally increase your overall confidence in English.

We run different versions of the Cambridge Exam Preparation courses at different levels of intensity. This means that you will be able to select the speed that you wish to learn at. Depending on your circumstances, you could do 4, 6, 9 or 12 week course.

Please remember that doing a 4 week course is very intensive and is more suited to people who need to refresh not learn the grammar and vocabulary from scratch and also the workload is immense. Expect to eat, sleep and think only about the Cambridge English Examinations for the 4 weeks.

A 6 week course is less intense but again is more suited to people who are at a comfortable level and a 12 week course is for people who want a slower pace of learning, taking their time to learn at their own pace and having the teacher go through everything in minute detail and still have time to enjoy their life in Galway and explore Ireland.

Our blog Which Exam Preparation Course do I choose will give a more detailed insight of the various length of courses available. 

But be aware whatever course you do you will have to work very hard and while teachers do everything they can to keep to you motivated and focused please remember that there will be times when you want to give up or think that you won’t pass. This is totally natural, talk to your teacher and they will help you to overcome the difficulty.

Guide to Cambridge English Examinations

Guide to Cambridge English Examinations

Cambridge English Exam: Preliminary Certificate (PET) / B1

The Preliminary English Test (PET) is directed at the 12 to 18 year-old demographic who are still in school or studying before college.
The Cambridge PET Preliminary Certificate exam consists of three papers:

  • Reading and Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking

The Reading and Writing is a test of how you understand the main points in language from signs, newspapers, magazines. It shows that you will be able to identify and use grammar from these. In the Listening, you are tested on recorded spoken material and how you can discuss topics about everyday life. In the Speaking, you will be tested on how good your spoken level of English is by asking and answering questions and talking on various topics. You will be in a conversation with two other candidates and two examiners. For more information on the format of the exam, click here.

If you're interested in enrolling in an exam preparation course for PET in Galway follow this link! We are also a certified testing center for the Cambridge English Examinations, so you can take your test here at the school!

Cambridge B1 Preliminary Exam Preparation Course [PET]

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Cambridge English Exam: First Certificate (FCE) / B2 First

There are a few different Cambridge English Examinations to get your head around. The most common of which would have to be the First Cambridge Examinations or FCE. The FCE, like all Cambridge English qualifications is an globally recognised qualification. The FCE grants its holder greater employment prospects in English-speaking counties and further afield.

This is the most popular of all the Cambridge English Examinations and accepted as a standardised level of English accepted by businesses and educational institutions worldwide.

The hardest thing about the new revised FCE is timing for Paper 1. You have to be ruthless in your time keeping so during whatever course you decide to take, you need to constantly time yourself when doing exam practice. Be aware of where you gain time and spots that you are prone to losing it.

The format of the exam is as follows. It consists of four seperate exam parts:

  • Reading and Use of English
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking 

For more details on the format of the exam, go to the Cambridge Website.

Cambridge B2 First Exam Preparation Course [FCE]

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Cambridge English Exam: Advanced Certificate (CAE) / C1 Advanced

Next, the Cambridge Advanced Examinations (CAE) are a little bit more tricky to conquer. The CAE is for students who are looking to pursue a higher level of English language. They might need the CAE because they’re looking to live long-term in an English-speaking country.

The Advanced Certificate (CAE) is a thorough exam that tests all areas of your language ability. It consists of four papers;

  • Reading and Use of English
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking (Face to Face)

In the Cambridge Advanced Certificate (CAE) Reading and use of English paper, you will demonstrate how you can confidently deal with different types of text. You will be able to understand fiction, newspapers and magazines. It will test your English grammar and vocabulary through various types of grammar and vocabulary. 

The Writing exam will involve some longer form writing such as essays, letters, emails, reports and reviews.

The Listening paper will involve you listening to spoken materials and answering questions on the topics. 

In the Speaking exam, you will have a conversation with another candidate and test your ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations.

Cambridge C1 Advanced Exam Preparation Course [CAE]

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GCI is an authorised Cambridge testing centre and you can take the exam in our school.

We run several Cambridge exam preparation courses throughout the year and we have more than 30 starting dates for our Cambridge exam preparation courses. Students can choose between various numbers of lessons per week (20 lessons, 30 lessons or 36 lessons per week) or several lengths of courses (4 weeks, 6 weeks, 9 weeks or 12 weeks). 

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