A MESSAGE FROM ANDREW GIRARDIN, CREATOR OF FCE EXAM TIPS

On this page I'll link to the books I use in my First Certificate classes and tell you about some smartphone apps you might like.

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Best Books for FCE students

 

Ready for First

The best FCE coursebook is Ready for First by Roy Norris. (It used to be called Ready for FCE but Cambridge changed the name of the exam.) It teaches all the grammar and vocabulary you need, plus the exercises are formatted exactly the same as in the exam. That means you're getting exam practice while you're learning English. Perfect! I use this with all my FCE students and I even use it with students who don't want to take the exam, because the reading texts are interesting and there's great variety in the topics.

If you can afford it and you have the time to do extra work, buy the workbook as well. (You'll see it listed on Amazon when you follow the link.)

Coursebook + Workbook = pass the exam.

If you just want to improve your grammar (and don't need the listening exercises) you can get Destination B2, which is awesome.

 

Cambridge Compact First Second Edition

I prefer Ready for First to this one, but if you've only got a few weeks before the exam, this is a good option. Cambridge say you can finish the book in 50 hours, and at the end you'll be quite well-prepared for the exam.

 

Cambridge Exam Books: First 1

Sometimes you just need to take some practice exams and see if you're ready. That's when you buy this book. It has 4 complete exams inside, and it's published by Cambridge so you know you're getting REAL exam practice with this one.

The only problem is that there is no CD included - you'll have to pay extra unless you know a friendly English teacher who can help you out.

 

Holes

One of the best ways to improve your English is to read books.

Most of my students don't like reading in English because they have to look up so many words, and that might be true on page 1. But by page 100 it all goes much faster! And in the meantime you learned a lot of vocabulary and experienced a lot of grammar.

I recommend Holes to everyone regardless of age, job, interests. It's one of the most perfect stories every written and you'll love reading it.


Listening Practice

AUDIOBOOKS 

I love audiobooks. If you've never tried one, you can use this link to sign up with Audible.com and get two free audiobooks (which you can keep if you don't want to continue using Audible).

With this offer, you get a free 30-day trial. Audible has websites for different countries, but you should sign up at the American one because then you'll get two free audiobooks. In other countries you only get one.

Sign up for Audible and get any two audiobooks for free

PODCASTS

If you have an iPhone there is an app called 'Podcasts'. Open it, go to 'search' and type 'learn English'. You'll find hundreds of free podcasts. Why not give one a try?

Start with one called Planet Money and, of course, 6-Minute English from the BBC.

If you don't have an iPhone, don't worry. Android and Windows phones have podcast apps too. You might have to download one, but it's worth a minute of your time.


Recommended Apps

GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Not everyone likes this, but I use it every day. Take a look at the video to see why.