How to pass the first certificate (FCE) reading test

The FCE reading test lasts 1 hour and consists of three parts. The texts are from newspapers, magazines, reports, fiction, websites and informational material (e.g. brochures, guides, manuals, etc.).


“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free” — Frederick Douglass

Let’s see the reading test step-by-step:

  • Part 1, Multiple choice: 8 questions with 4 possible answers from which to choose one.
  • Part 2, Gapped text: 7 questions. It is probably the most difficult part of the exam. You have to place 7 texts extracted from the main one in their correct place.
  • Part 3, Multiple matching: 15 questions. You have to decide which part of the text every question is talking about.

What can you do to pass this part? Here is our advice:

  • Read as much as possible: articles on a variety of topics, brochures, guides, reports, etc. Train your comprehension.
  • Do practice tests to get used to the format of the exam. There are many free websites where you can do so; below we have listed a few of them.
  • Read the questions before reading the text. They give you clues about the text and it will be easier to find the right answer.
  • Read carefully and make sure you understand the questions you are being asked. Don’t think that you are going to find exactly the same words in the text; it is more likely that you find synonyms.
  • It is usual that the questions follow the same order as the text. Keep it in mind.
  • In the gapped text, look for continuity between the topic of the previous and subsequent paragraphs: does the complete text make sense?
  • Manage your time: you have to read three texts and answer 30 questions. If you are struggling with one question, continue to the next one; you can come back to it when you have finished the rest of the exam. But if you are not sure about your answer, no worries, give it in anyway. They don’t deduct points.

From our research: