FCE Academy – app for studying

The FCE Academy app is for students preparing for the Use of English section of the Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE). It contains 120 exam-style texts with 1,000 individual assessments and closely replicates the FCE exam experience. The content has been written by Michael Macdonald, a teacher of Cambridge exam candidates, and reviewed independently by a Cambridge FCE examiner and senior examiner-trainer.

The app has been produced by former Cambridge University Press staff and the product development process involved iterative user acceptance testing by FCE teachers around the world.

Publisher’s comment: Prosperity Education Ltd is the small Cambridge-based digital publishing team behind the FCE Academy app. Company director Tom O’Reilly says “The FCE is a challenging exam, and the Use of English section is the most difficult part. Students often tell us they feel unprepared for it. That’s why we have worked with a top FCE teacher to create FCE Academy, which has more test practice questions than any other app, website or textbook. Our mission is to help you pass this important exam with the highest possible marks.

The FCE Academy app is useful for all English learners from B1 level and onwards and, specifically, the Cambridge First English exam (FCE). It employs repetitive learning skills using exam-simulated texts to familiarise the user with the Use of English section of any English exam. Teachers can use it to set tests as homework and model classes on the contents of particular practice tests, while students can use it to prepare for their exam.
With more exam practice texts than any other app, website or textbook, the FCE Academy app comprises 1,000 individual assessments and has been designed to reproduce parts 1–4 of the Cambridge First English examination, both in content level and assessment format. Written by an experienced teacher of candidates preparing for the new Cambridge exams, the 120 texts underwent an independent review by a Cambridge examiner during production and the content was peer-reviewed by 20 FCE teachers from around the world.

App content

The FCE Academy app replicates parts 1–4 of the Cambridge Assessment English B2 First FCE examination:

Parts 1–3 each contain 36 texts of approximately 160 words; each text contains 8 assessments; and each assessment carries 1 mark. Part 4 comprises 72 short texts or single sentence assessments; each assessment carries 2 marks.

  • Parts 1–3 (Multiple choice cloze, Open cloze, and Word formation) each contain 36 texts of approximately 160 words; Part 4 (Key word transformation) comprises 72 short texts or single sentence assessments; each assessment carries two marks.
  • Part 1. Multiple-choice cloze: This part of the exam mostly tests vocabulary – idioms, collocations, shades of meaning, phrasal verbs, complementation, semantic precision and fixed phrases. The 36 texts all contain eight blanks, each prompting multiple-choice questions. Each question has four possible answers, only one of which is correct.
  • Part 2. Open-cloze: This section tests candidates’ awareness and control of grammar and, to an extent, vocabulary (the particles/prepositions for phrasal verbs). The 36 texts all contain eight gaps, each gap representing a missing word. No hints are given: you must think of the correct word for each gap.
  • Part 3. Word formation: Here, the focus is on affixation, internal changes and compounding in word formation, and, to some extent, vocabulary. The 36 texts all contain a text with eight gaps, each gap representing a missing word. Beside each gap is a ‘prompt’ word that must be altered in some way to complete the sentence correctly.
  • Part 4. Key word transformation: This part of the FCE exam assesses grammar and vocabulary, specifically comparatives, wish, verbs and prepositions followed by gerunds or infinitives, etc., active voice and direct speech, phrasal verbs, common idioms and the third conditional. The 12 tests each contain six sentences; each sentence is followed by a ‘key’ word and an alternative sentence conveying the same meaning as the first but with a gap in the middle. Use the key word provided to complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence. Each correct answer is broken down in to two marks, replicating the FCE exam assessment format.

App features

By selecting an exam part from the home screen, users are given a choice of texts to work with and information relating to their progress to date. The texts are formatted so that users can interact intuitively by tapping the screen. A timer can be activated to show the time it is taking to complete a text while the ‘information’ button at the top of each screen provides instruction relating to each particular test. By selecting the marks icon when taking a test, right and wrong answers are identified in real time. Alternatively, users can select this feature to reveal overall accuracy upon completion of a test. Records of completed tests and details of scores and time are available at the end of each test and added to the text menu screens. Progress statistics for each exam part are recorded on the home screen, identifying areas in which further practice may be required. There is also the option to share test results on Facebook and Twitter.
Prosperity Education Ltd is the Cambridge-based company of English language teachers and educational digital publishers behind FCE Academy. The commercial aim is to include teachers in the distribution process by asking them to recommend the app to their students and colleagues. For teachers to want to do this, the quality of the app needs to be high. Not just the quality of the content, but the quality of the user experience: the look and feel of the app itself. Already, since the launch of the free Lite app (Android and iOS) in November 2016, several thousand downloads have been made. Company director, Tom O’Reilly, says: “We are genuinely helping students prepare and therefore achieve better results in their English exams. It has been a great journey and something we’re all really proud about. We are confident that FCE Academy is the best available app of its type but admit to have been a little overwhelmed by the response and positive user reviews received to date.”
The free Lite app contains seven texts, so people can decide for themselves whether they should pay to unlock the remaining 113 texts. If they have a discount code from their teacher, students can use this to get the app at a reduced rate.

FCE Academy for Schools i FCE Academy Listening

FCE Academy for Schools contains the same amount of B2 content as FCE Academy, but the texts have been written for a school-age audience. FCE Academy Listening covers the four parts of the Cambridge B2 First (formerly FCE) listening exam, with ten whole tests (170 minutes of audio) in the full app. We produced this one in response to the many messages we’ve received from people (mainly FCE Academy users!) saying they wanted listening practice, too. We’re excited about the new app as the production required a whole new design and functionality, and collaborations with professional actors: it has been fun.

For more information, including user reviews, a walk-through tutorial video and free exam practice resources, visit > ProsperityEducation.net

You can test the Lite version of the app, available from the AppStore or GooglePlay, for free.

You can purchase the complete app at a discounted price (50%) by using a download code available to FCE.pl readers. Promo code: 050ODTE3

(Polish version of the article – FCE Academy / Wersja Polska artykułu – FCE Academy)