Exam Preparation

B2 First

Exam Preparation

B2 First

Information for candidates

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

Download B2 First information for candidates

Exam format

B2 First is a test of all areas of language ability. The exam is made up of four papers developed to test your English language skills.

1 hour 15 minutes

The B2 First Reading and Use of English paper is in seven parts and has a mix of text types and questions. For Parts 1 to 4, you read a range of texts and do grammar and vocabulary tasks. For Parts 5 to 7, you read a series of texts and answer questions that test your reading ability and show that you can deal with a variety of different types of texts.

This paper accounts for 40% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)
  • A text with some multiple-choice questions. Each question has four options (A, B, C or D) – you have to decide which is the correct answer.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 2 (Open cloze)
  • A text in which there are some gaps, each of which represents one missing word. You have to think of the correct word for each gap.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 3 (Word formation)
  • A text containing eight gaps. Each gap represents a word. At the end of the line is a ‘prompt’ word which you have to change in some way to complete the sentence correctly.
  • 8 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 4 (Key word transformations)
  • Each question consists of a sentence followed by a ‘key’ word and a second sentence with a gap in the middle. You have to use this key word to complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence.
  • 6 questions
  • Up to 2 marks for each correct answer
Part 5 (Multiple choice)
  • A text with some multiple-choice questions. For each question, there are four options and you have to choose A, B, C or D.
  • 6 questions
  • 2 marks for each correct answer
Part 6 (Gapped text)
  • A single page of text with some numbered gaps which represent missing sentences. After the text there are some sentences which are not in the right order. You have to read the text and the sentences and decide which sentence best fits each gap.
  • 6 questions
  • 2 mars for each correct answer
Part 7 (Multiple matching)
  • A series of statements followed by a text divided into sections or several short texts. You have to match each statement to the section or text in which you can find the information.
  • 10 questions
  • 1 mark for each correct answer.

1 hour 20 minutes

In the two parts of the B2 First Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Compulsory question)
  • You’re given an essay title and two ideas clearly linked to the title. You write an essay giving your opinions about the title, using the ideas given. You must also add a third, different idea of your own linked to the title. The title will be a subject of general interest – you won’t need any specialised knowledge.
  • You have to write 140 – 190 words.
  • 1 question
Part 2 (Situationally based writing task)
  • You write a text from a choice of text types – article, email/letter, report or review. To guide your writing, you’ll be given information about context, topic purpose and target reader.
  • One task to be selected from a choice of three.
  • You have to write 140 – 190 words

About 40 minutes

The B2 First Listening paper has four parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Multiple choice)
  • Eight short extracts from monologues or conversations between interacting speakers. There is one multiple-choice question for each extract, and you have to choose A, B or C.
  • 8 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 2 (Sentence completion)
  • A monologue (which may be introduced by a presenter) lasting approximately 3 minutes. You have to complete the sentences on the question paper with the missing information which you hear on the recording.
  • 10 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 3 (Multiple matching)
  • A series of five themed monologues of approximately 30 seconds each. On the question paper, you have to select five correct options from a list of eight possible answers.
  • 5 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer
Part 4 (Multiple choice)
  • A conversation between two or more speakers of approximately 3–4 minutes. You have to answer some multiple-choice questions by choosing the correct answer from three options (A, B or C).
  • 7 questions.
  • 1 mark for each correct answer

14 minutes per pair of candidates

The B2 First Speaking test has four parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners asks you questions and gives you the booklet with things to talk about. The other examiner listens to what you say. Both examiners give marks for your performance. This paper accounts for 20% of the total mark.

Part 1 (Interview)
  • Conversation with the examiner. The examiner asks questions and you may have to give information about your interests, studies, career, etc.
  • 2 minutes
Part 2 (Long turn)
  • The examiner gives you two photographs and asks you to talk about them. You have to speak for 1 minute without interruption and the interlocutor then asks the other candidate to comment on your photographs for about 30 seconds.
    The other candidate receives a different set of photographs and you have to listen and comment when they have finished speaking. The question you have to answer about your photographs is written at the top of the page to remind you what you should talk about.
  • 1 minute per candidate
Part 3 (Collaborative task)
  • Conversation with the other candidate. The examiner gives you some material and a task to do. You have to talk with the other candidate and make a decision.
  • 3 minutes (a 2-minute discussion followed by a 1-minute decision-making task)
Part 4 (Discussion)
  • Further discussion with the other candidate, guided by questions from the examiner, about the topics or issues raised in the task in Part 3.
  • 4 minutes

Choosing your Speaking Test partner

If you would like to be paired together with a friend/classmate, you can request this when you register for the exam. Please note, however, that research has shown that there are both advantages and disadvantages in taking the test with someone you know and that in the end it doesn’t matter. What is important is that the test judges you on your own performance.

Groups of three candidates

Almost all B2 First Speaking Tests are conducted in groups of two candidates. However, if there is an uneven number of candidates at an exam session there will be one test with a group of three candidates, normally at the end of the day or before a long break. The test format is exactly the same but will last a little longer. Please note that you cannot request to take your test in a group of three.

Frequently asked questions
and exam day tips

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

B2 First FAQs  

Exam day tips – paper-based exams

Exam day tips – computer-based exams

Exam day tips – Speaking test

Sample tests
Computer based

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Answer keys

There is no answer key for the Writing paper, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the relevant pages of the B2 First handbook.