Hi Andrew!

I have my exam next week and I am nervous! But I have a question.

How do I calculate my score in my practice tests? I want to check my progress.

Yours sincerely,



Hi S.,

It's not so easy!

The Basics

The first thing to know is that there are 5 sections in the exam (Speaking, Reading, Writing, Listening, and Use of English) and each is worth 20% of the total.

You can get a bad score in one part of the exam and still pass.

This is what your results look like:

This student scored 172 points overall (1) but her Writing was her weakest area (2).

In this article I will tell you how to calculate some of your scores, but for Speaking and Writing you will need feedback from a real teacher. (I suggest you book some lessons with a teacher on italki.)

The Cambridge Scale

In the old system you needed to score 60% overall to pass the exam. Now everything is rated according to 'the Cambridge Scale'.

The score you need to pass is 160. Look at this graphic:

As you can see, grades C and B cover the B2 level, while an A at First Certificate is at the lower end of C1. 

You can also see that an A at FCE is similar to a C at Advanced level.

So How Do I Calculate My Score?


Parts 1 and 7 of the Reading test are worth 1 point. Parts 5 and 6 are worth 2 points. Add up your points and use this table to estimate your Cambridge English Scale score.

You will probably have to take a guess at your score. Example - if you score 20 points in the practice test, give yourself a Scale score of 150.

Use of English

Take 1 point for every correct answer in parts 2 and 3. In part 4 answers are worth 2 points, but you can score 1 point by getting the answer partially correct.


This one is easy - 1 point per section.

Take the Average

Okay so hopefully you have 3 scores now. Simply add them up and divide by three. Is that number higher than 160? If so, you're on track to pass Cambridge English: First!

Want More Info About the Scale?

Final Word

If you find the new Cambridge Scale too confusing, don't use it! Just go with the old 60% rule. It's still a good guide.


Jennifer Thomas, language school owner and director (in Andalusia), Cambridge examiner and Trinity inspector, sent me a table with all the percentages and their probable Cambridge Scale equivalent.

I have turned it into a Google Doc which you can see here: