The Use of English is a tricky part of the exam and you can improve your score by using good time management. You have 60 minutes to complete the five parts of this section of the exam. First, let’s look at how many points are available in each part of this paper:
- Part 1: 12 questions, 12 points
- Part 2: 15 questions, 15 points
- Part 3: 10 questions, 10 points
- Part 4: 5 questions, 10 points (2 points per correct answer)
- Part 5: 8 questions, 16 points (answers can receive 0, 1 or 2 points)
Here is how I would organize my 60 minutes, I will give an explanation below.
Part 4 for me is a little bit like a game or a puzzle. If you give yourself time to “play” with this section (just write down all of the words that you can think of that might fill the gaps), you are using a different type of thinking than if you just concentrate really hard on finding the answer. Do you know the feeling when you are trying to think of the name of a book or movie or actor, but you just can’t remember it until later? We can try and get that magical “later moment” if we look at part 4 quickly, and then come back to it later.
Part 1 is hard. And the hardest part is looking at the choices for the answers! With some of these questions, you could look at them for 10 minutes each and you wouldn’t be any more confident in your answer. That’s why it’s so important to limit your time in this section: more time in part 1 will not help you! Use this time in other sections.
In parts 2 and 3, you can take a little more time to read the texts carefully. Noticing things like prepositions or the tenses of other verbs in the paragraph will keep you from making simple mistakes that might cost you points.
Part 5 is worth the most points and requires the most concentration: this is the section of the exam where more time gives you the biggest advantage (or to say it another way, this is the part of the exam where you will lose the most points if you have to rush). Use a watch (no phones in the exam room!) to make sure you have enough time for this section. I’ve written an extra strategy guide for part 5 which you can read here.
Make sure to take a practice test and practice this time management before the day of the exam. Maybe my strategy doesn’t work for you and you prefer a different method—that’s fine! As long as you have a plan, you will help yourself succeed.