Maybe you are getting ready to take your B2 First exam or maybe you are a teacher helping students prepare for the exam. You might be wondering what the chances are of passing, right?
Obviously, the chance of any candidate passing the exam depends on their individual ability in English. However, we can also look at the official statistics from Cambridge to see what the probability of passing the exam, getting a B2 level or even getting a C1 level is according to the actual data.
The Official Data From Cambridge
We have put together the most recent data from Cambridge covering the period from 2011 to 2019. Currently, there is no data to show the statistics after 2019, but we have reached out to Cambridge requesting this.
Nevertheless, using the data over a nine-year period will give a good indication of the probability of getting each score.
The Cambridge B2 First exam is taken by English learners all around the world. The conclusions we come to in this article are based on global statistics and are based on any specific countries.
How the B2 First exam is scored
Before we go look at the data, let’s just quickly review how the Cambridge B2 First exam is scored.
When you get your results you will be given one of the following results:
- Grade A (C1 level)
- Grade B (B2 level)
- Grade C (B2 level)
- Level B1
So now we know the possible outcomes of the exam let’s take a look at the probabilities of passing.
Probability of Passing
In order to pass the B2 First exam, you need a minimum overall score of 140 which equates to a B1 level. The good news for anyone worried about failing the exam completely is that 96.2% of candidates come away from the exam with at least a B1 level.
This means that only 3.8% of candidates that take the B2 First exam fail. Sounds great right? Or maybe this statistic is a little misleading.
Probability of obtaining a B1 level
Even though the vast majority of candidates who take the exam will pass, most will not be happy if their level is B1. Obviously, anyone who takes the B2 First exam wants to get at least a B2 level of English. So just looking at the probability of passing the exam doesn’t really show too much.
How many candidates end up with a B1 level? The data shows that 26% of candidates taking the B2 First exam will come away with a B1 level of English.
If we combine this with the percentage of candidates who fail the exam completely then we know that on average 29.8% of candidates will not get a B2 level or higher.
This means that if there is a class of 20 students preparing for the exam it is likely that 6 of them will not get the result they want. this can be a bit concerning for anyone doing the exam and highlights the importance of taking B2 First exam preparation seriously.
The trend during these 9 years doesn’t suggest that these statistics are improving too much either. Even though it has been improving during the last few years the data in 2019 is still the same as it was back in 2011.
Probability of obtaining a B2 level
For those of you who are good at math, you may have already worked out that the probability of getting a B2 level or higher in the Cambridge B2 First exam is 70.2%.
On a positive note, this means that the majority of candidates will come away with a score that they are happy with. This figure also includes those candidates who manage to get a C1 level, so what is the probability of getting a B2 level? It’s actually 62.89% which is not surprising considering that to be awarded a C1 level from the B2 First exam you will need close to perfect scores in all areas.
Let’s have a look at how this percentage has changed during the most recent nine years.
As we can see there was a slight dip during the last few years, but it now appears to be on an upward trend and back to where it originally was in 2011.
Probability of obtaining a C1 level
If you are taking the B2 First exam then the best possible outcome is to get a score above 180 which will give you a Grade A and a C1 level of English. According to the data, the probability of getting a C1 level in the Cambridge B2 First exam is 7.32% which is actually quite high when considering how difficult it is to achieve.
It means that if you’re in a class preparing for the exam with 20 students then it is likely that at least one and possibly two of the students will get a C1 level.
The trend of candidates coming away with a C1 level of English also looks promising. In 2019 the number of candidates who achieved a C1 level was the highest it has been since 2011. This means that although the overall probability of passing the exam hasn’t changed too much over the nine-year period, the probability of achieving a C1 level has actually increased.
Probability of Passing In A Specific Country
Even though these statistics give a good overall view of the probability of passing the B2 First exam, it is important to remember that these are global statistics. The level of English in different countries can vary greatly.
For example in 2019 72.8% of candidates achieved a B2 level or higher, whereas in Sweden this number was 88.2%, and in Turkey was just 50.4%.
If you are preparing for your B2 First exam then you can be safe in the knowledge that the majority of candidates pass, and many with a B2 level or higher. So candidates who take the time to prepare for the exam should go into it confident that they can get the result they want.
Most students only think of getting the B2 level when taking the exam. However, with nearly one in ten candidates achieving a C1 level, this means that for those who put in the time and energy to prepare for the exam thoroughly, coming away with a C1 level is certainly possible.