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B2 First for Schools Exam format

Exam format

The updated B2 First for Schools exam (for exam sessions from January 2015) is made up of four papers developed to test students' English language skills. You can see exactly what’s in each paper below.

Paper

Content

What’s been updated?

Reading and Use of English
(1 hour 15 minutes) 
See sample paper

7parts/
52
questions

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.

Writing 
(1 hour 20 minutes) 
See sample paper

2 parts

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.

Listening 
(about 40 minutes) 
See sample paper

4parts/
30
questions

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.

Speaking 
(14 minues per pair of candidates) 
See sample paper

4 parts

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.

 

Paper

Content

Marks

Listening 
(about 25 minutes) 

5 parts/ 25 questions 

a maximum of five shields 

Reading and Writing 
(40 minutes) 

7 parts/ 44 questions 

a maximum of five shields 

Speaking 
(7–9 minutes) 

4 parts

a maximum of five shields 

Linked to the CEFR, Can Do statements show what a learner can do at each level. Read the Can Do statements for Starters, Movers and Flyers.

What’s in the Reading and Use of English paper?

The B2 First for Schools Reading and Use of English paper is in seven parts and has a mix of text types and questions.

For Parts 1 to 4, students read a range of texts and do grammar and vocabulary tasks.

For Parts 5 to 7, students read a series of texts and answer questions that test reading ability and show that they can deal with a variety of different types of texts.

Time allowed:

1 hour 15 minutes

Number of parts:

Number of questions:

52

Marks:

40% of total 

Lengths of texts:

2,200–2,500 words to read in total. 

Texts may be from:

Newspaper and magazine articles, reports, fiction, advertisements, letters, messages, informational material (e.g. brochures, guides, manuals, etc.). 

Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)

What's in Part 1?

A text in which there are some missing words or phrases (gaps). After the text there are four possible answers for each gap and students have to choose the correct answer (A, B, C or D). 

What do students have to practise?

Vocabulary – words with similar meanings, collocations, linking phrases, phrasal verbs, etc.

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

1 mark for each correct answer. 

Part 2 (Open cloze)

What's in Part 2?

There are some missing words (gaps). Students have to think of the correct word for each gap.

What do students have to practise?

Grammar and vocabulary.

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

1 mark for each correct answer. 

Part 3 (Word formation)

What's in Part 3?

A text containing eight gaps. Each gap represents a word. At the end of the line is a ‘prompt’ word which the student has to change in some way to make the correct missing word and complete the sentence correctly.

What do students have to practise?

Vocabulary – word-building: the different words which the student can make from a ‘base’ word, e.g. ‘compete’ becomes ‘competition’, ‘competitor’, ‘competitive’, ‘competitively’ or ‘uncompetitive’.

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

1 mark for each correct answer. 

Part 4 (Key word transformations)

What's in Part 4?

A sentence followed by a key word and a second sentence which has a gap in it. Students have to use the key word to complete the second sentence so that it is similar in meaning to the first sentence.

What do students have to practise?

Grammar and vocabulary – rewriting sentences with different words so that they mean the same thing. 

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

Up to 2 marks for each correct answer. 

Part 5 (Multiple choice)

What's in Part 5?

A text with some multiple-choice questions. Each question has four options (A, B, C or D), and students have to decide which is the correct answer.

What do students have to practise?

How to understand the details of a text, including opinions and attitudes.  

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

2 marks for each correct answer. 

Part 6 (Gapped text)

What's in Part 6?

A text with some empty spaces (gaps). After the text there are some sentences taken from the text. Students have to choose the correct sentence for each gap.

What do students have to practise?

How to understand the structure and follow the development of a text. 

How many questions are there?

How many marks are there?

2 marks for each correct answer.

Part 7 (Multiple matching)

What's in Part 7?

A series of questions and a long text or several short texts to read. For each question, students have to decide which text or part of the text mentions this.

What do students have to practise?

How to find specific information in a text or texts. 

How many questions are there?

10 

How many marks are there?

1 mark for each correct answer.