International Certificate in Financial English (ICFE)

Cambridge English : Financial (ICFE) also known as International Certificate in Financial English (ICFE) is a high-level qualification that will help you demonstrate that you have the language skills for a successful career in international accountancy and finance. ICFE is a high-level qualification set at levels B2 - C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).


Register for ICFE Resources



Why you should take Cambridge English Financial (ICFE) exam ?



ICFE exam
Internationally Accepted
Employers, universities and colleges, government departments and other organisations around the world accept Cambridge English Financial (ICFE) as proof of high-level achievement in learning English. In many countries, job applicants who can prove strong English skills have better access to jobs and higher earning potential.
ICFE exam
Relevant
Cambridge English Financial (ICFE) covers all four language skills: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Each test is based on realistic texts, tasks and topics similar to those you would expect to encounter in your daily working life as an accounting or finance practitioner.


ICFE exam
Most Reliable
Cambridge English Financial (ICFE) provides the most reliable reflection of your language skills. It is designed to be fair to users of all nationalities and linguistic backgrounds.
ICFE exam
Real-life language skills
Cambridge English Financial (ICFE) will give you the practical English skills to:
  • seek employment or promotion in a finance context, e.g. accountancy firms, government agencies and other organisations
  • improve your ability to conduct business internationally or with international clients and colleagues
  • improve your exam and classroom performance in finance and accountancy exams

Test Format

Cambridge English Financial (ICFE exam) presently comprises the four papers : Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.


Paper Content Marks
(% of total)
Purpose
Reading
(1 hour 15 minutes)
6 parts / 54 questions 25% Shows you can:
  • complete tasks based on finance and accounting-related texts
  • read and understand finance and accounting-related texts
  • demonstrate a variety of reading skills, including skimming, scanning, deduction of meaning from context
  • select relevant information to complete tasks.
Writing
(1 hour 15 minutes)
2 parts / 2 questions 25% Shows you can complete writing tasks covering a range of finance and accounting-related topics.
Listening
(about 40 minutes)
4 parts / 30 questions 25% Shows you can:
  • understand a variety of listening texts, showing understanding of gist, detail and the attitude of the speaker
  • identify and interpret the context.

Texts take the form of recordings of discussions, meetings, interviews, announcements, broadcasts, etc., in the context of finance and accounting.
Speaking
(16 minutes per pair of candidates)
4 parts 25% Shows you can perform a variety of spoken tasks on finance and accounting-related topics, using a range of speaking skills:
  • interactional
  • social
  • transactional
  • negotiation
  • collaboration.




The Cambridge English Financial (ICFE exam) Reading paper has different types of texts and questions. In one part, you may have to read one long text, or four or more shorter, related texts.




Part 1 (Multiple-choice cloze)


What's in Part 1? Multiple-choice cloze.
Focus: lexical (e.g. semantic precision, collocations, fixed phrases and linking words/phrases).
What do I have to practise? Lexis (e.g. semantic precision, collocations, fixed phrases and linking words/phrases).
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Gapped text)


What's in Part 2? Open cloze.
Focus: grammatical and lexico-grammatical.
What do I have to practise? Structural items (e.g. conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, auxiliaries, quantifiers).
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (Gapped text)


What's in Part 3? Word formation.
Focus: lexical (affixation and compounding).
What do I have to practise? Affixation and compounding.
How many questions are there? 12
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Multiple matching)


What's in Part 4? Multiple matching.
Focus: reading for detail and gist.
What do I have to practise? Reading for detail and gist.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? Two marks for each correct answer.



Part 5 (Gapped text)


What's in Part 5? Gapped text.
Focus: cohesion, coherence, text structure, global meaning.
What do I have to practise? Cohesion, coherence, text structure, global meaning.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? Two marks for each correct answer.



Part 6 (Multiple choice)


What's in Part 6? Multiple choice.
Focus: reading for detail, gist, opinion, implication and referencing.
What do I have to practise? Reading for detail, gist, opinion, implication and referencing.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? Two marks for each correct answer.

In the two parts of the Cambridge English Financial (ICFE exam) Writing paper, you have to show that you can write different types of text in English. Part 1 of the test carries 40% of the total marks available, and Part 2 carries 60%.




Part 1 (Compulsory)


What's in Part 1? You will write a letter based on instructions, an input letter and five content points.
What do I have to practise? Explaining, refuting, presenting and developing arguments, suggesting, etc.
How many questions are there? One compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 120–180 words



Part 2 (Compulsory)


What's in Part 2? You will produce a report based on the instructions, including four content points.
What do I have to practise? Presenting and developing arguments, expressing and supporting opinions, evaluating ideas, describing, summarising, recommending, persuading, explaining, etc.
How many questions are there? One compulsory question.
How much do I have to write? 200–250 words

The Cambridge English Financial (ICFE exam) Listening paper has four parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.




Part 1 (Multiple choice)


What's in Part 1? Three short monologues or dialogues of approximately one minute each. These are not linked thematically. You will hear each extract twice.
What do I have to practise? Understanding gist, detail, function, purpose, topic, attitude, feeling, opinion, inference.
How many questions are there? 6
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 2 (Multiple choice)


What's in Part 2? A conversation between two or more speakers, lasting approximately four minutes. You will hear the recording twice.
What do I have to practise? Understanding gist, specific information, opinion, attitude, agreement and disagreement.
How many questions are there? 5
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 3 (sentence completion)


What's in Part 3? A monologue of approximately four minutes. You will hear the recording twice.
What do I have to practise? Following the main points and retrieving specific information from the text.
How many questions are there? 9
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.



Part 4 (Multiple matching)


What's in Part 4? A series of five themed monologues of approximately 30 seconds each. You will hear the whole sequence twice.
What do I have to practise? Identifying speakers and topics, interpreting context, recognising attitude and function, gist and main points.
How many questions are there? 10
How many marks are there? One mark for each correct answer.

The Cambridge English Financial (ICFE exam) Speaking test has four parts and you take it together with another candidate. There are two examiners. One of the examiners conducts the test (asks you questions, gives you paper with things to talk about, and so on). The other examiner listens to what you say and takes notes.




Part 1 (Interview)


What's in Part 1? Conversation with the examiner. The examiner asks questions and you may have to:
  • give information about yourself
  • talk about studies and/or work experience in the area of finance and accounting
  • answer further questions on finance-related topics.
What do I have to practise? Responding to questions and expanding on responses.
How long do we have to speak? 2 minutes



Part 2 (Long turn)


What's in Part 2? You choose your topic (from a choice of two). The topic comes with prompts that you can use, if required. You will:
  • have one minute to choose and prepare your topic
  • talk about the topic for about one minute
  • listen to a question from the other candidate about your talk
  • respond to that question.
What do I have to practise? Giving information, and expressing and justifying opinions.
How long do we have to speak? 1 minute per candidate



Part 3 (Collaborative task)


What's in Part 3? Conversation with the other candidate. The examiner gives you a task to do. You have to talk with the other candidate and make a decision.
What do I have to practise? Turn-taking (initiating and responding appropriately), negotiating, collaborating, exchanging information, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing, suggesting, speculating, comparing and contrasting, and decision-making.
How long do we have to speak? 3 minutes



Part 4 (Discussion)


What's in Part 4? Further discussion with the other candidate about the same general topic area as the task in Part 3.
What do I have to practise? Responding appropriately, developing topics, exchanging information, expressing and justifying opinions, and agreeing and/or disagreeing.
How long do we have to speak? 3 minutes