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How to practice & improve vocabulary? | B2 First (FCE)

Level: B2
How to practice & improve vocabulary? | B2 First (FCE)

If you would like to succeed at the B2 First (FCE), you should focus on learning specific types of vocabulary. Looking at the past exams, there are several topics which are often used.

We suggest focusing mainly on the topics listed below:

The environment
vocabulary connected to the weather, climate change, pollution, recycling, animals, plants, different types of habitats (deserts, sea, urban (e.g. towns and cities) etc…
vocabulary connected to different types of jobs and places of work, applying for a job, what people do in work etc…
vocabulary connected to the internet, social networks, using computers etc…
vocabulary connected to films/movies, books, music, concerts etc…
vocabulary connected to ways of travelling, going on holiday, problems related to travelling etc…
Social activities and hobbies
vocabulary connected to sports, hobbies, restaurants, shopping etc…
vocabulary connected to studying at school and university
Family and relationships
vocabulary related to family, friends and other types of relationships

What else can you do to improve your English vocabulary?

Reading is the quickest and most effective way to learn new vocabulary and phrases. It may include reading articles or doing specifically prepared vocabulary exercises.

Although you can learn new vocabulary by listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos, such exercises are not as efficient as reading.

The more vocabulary you see, the better

If you see or hear a word or phrase in English multiple times, you are more likely to understand its meaning and context in which it’s used.

Therefore, if you read more in English, your knowledge of English vocabulary improves. So get into the habit of regularly reading in English (twice a week).

Read articles and essays

When taking the B2 First (FCE) exam, you should improve your knowledge of English vocabulary on various topics. It seems to be slower to do so by reading novels or books (which are generally devoted to one subject).

Reading articles (as well as reviews and essays) is more effective in expanding your vocabulary on different topics. It will increase the possibility that the vocabulary you know appears on the exam.

Besides reading articles, you can also do vocabulary exercises (either online or in books). Similarly to the articles, do exercises on topics and types of vocabulary commonly used during the exam.

Search for materials to read

Finding articles to read in English on common topics used in the exam isn’t difficult. Nevertheless, finding articles at the right level both for you and the exam might be challenging.

For instance, texts written for native English-speaking adults may be too complicated, and consequently, you may be confused and frustrated.

You can either read things designed specifically for FCE learners, texts intended for students with an intermediate level of English (very similar to FCE), or texts written for or by English-speaking young teenagers.

Below are some websites and resources for reading materials you can use:

Upper intermediate B2 reading


Hancock McDonald

How to memorize English better

Starting with just reading or hearing English, you will gradually improve your English vocabulary. However, it will take some time. The best way to understand and memorize new vocabulary is to focus on guessing its meaning from the contexts. Next, check the dictionary to make sure you are right, then make a sentence with a given word.

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