CAE Use of English Part 5 detailed tips

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in CAE Use of English | 2 comments

Now that you have a strategy for time management during the Use of English section of the exam, let’s look at exactly how to approach part 5.  Remember, this is the only section of the exam where you can get one point even if your answer is not 100% correct (in that case you will get two points).  This means that you can try and get at least one point even if you don’t think you can get both of them.  Typically, each correct answer has a grammar component and a vocabulary component.  If you think of it this way, you might be able to find some extra points more easily. The instructions (which you should memorise… how many words are you allowed to write?) tell you that the sentences should have “a similar meaning”.  Really, in my experience, similar is not going to be good enough.  The correct answer will be almost exactly the same meaning as the original, so you will need to be very careful.  In order to see what you need to change, it will help to see all of the things that have stayed the same.  You can underline or circle text when you take the exam, I’ve just used colours to highlight the text so it will be easy to see. Here is the example from the official CAE practice test: You can see that almost everything is the same, but let’s highlight them anyway.  For me, this just helps me be more confident that I’ve seen everything. So let’s imagine that we just don’t have any idea how to answer this particular question.  We can still use what we know about English to get at least one point.  After we highlight the parts of the sentences that are the same, we can clearly see that we need to find the words to express “would only speak”, and that we need to use the word “on”.  We can see that in the second sentence, there is no verb, so we can assume that ”speak” will somehow be part of our answer.  If we think about “on”, it would be strange to make a phrase like “speak on… to the head of the department”, so we can probably assume that “on” will come before some form of “speak”.  What form of the verb follows prepositions?  Always the –ing form: here is the grammar component of the answer.  So if we just write “on speaking” on the answer sheet, we would get one point!  If we understand the use of “would” in the first sentence (as a way of stating demands or refusals, for example, “I wouldn’t eat broccoli when I was a child.”), we...

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CAE Use of English time management

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in CAE Use of English |

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!...

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