Updated CAE beginning in 2015

Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Uncategorized |

A new exam? What’s changed? Starting in January 2015, there will be a new version of the Cambridge English: Advanced exam (previously known as the CAE). This post will explain the major changes in the new exam so you know what to expect. Big changes to Reading and Use of English papers First the good news: starting in January the exam will be 45 minutes shorter! There will be 4 papers instead of 5, which means there will be one fewer break as well—saving you even more time. The new exam combines the Reading and Use of English papers and here is where the time is saved. Previously there were 84 questions in these 2 sections, now there will be 56. Two sections from the old exam have been removed and one new section has been created. The details can be seen in the table below, the colours indicate where the sections of the old exam have moved in the 2015 exam. With the help of this table, you can use materials from the old exams to prepare for the new ones. Click on the image for a larger version. First of all, you can see that Reading part 1 and Use of English part 4 have been discontinued in 2015. The combined section begins with the Use of English tasks followed by the Reading tasks. Part 6 of the 2015 Reading and Use of English paper is a new task type. In this new part 6, you will have 4 paragraphs on the same topic by different authors and you will have to answer questions which ask you to compare the texts with each other: “Which author shares the opinion of author C?” “Which writer expresses an opinion different from the others?” Small changes to Writing and Speaking papers There are minor changes to the Writing paper and I think they are all good. First of all, you are allowed to write more! You may now write between 220 and 260 words for each piece of writing. Part 1 is now always an essay. This will make it easier to prepare as you will know what to expect. In part 2, there is a choice of three tasks, which will be either a review, a letter/email, a report or a proposal. There will not be any more questions about set texts (in the current exam there are questions about Lord of the Flies or The Lighthouse which you may or may not have read). There are no changes to the Listening paper. There are some small changes to the timing of the Speaking paper. Part 1 is one minute shorter and part 4 is one minute longer. In part 3,...

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There is no “I” in academic writing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Writing |

The obligation to write in the correct style does not only apply to examinations.  The author of this article is struggling with the rigid constraints of academic style.  I am having the same struggle as I complete my master’s degree.  It’s very strange having to write about what I think without being allowed to use the word “I”! But unfortunately, this is just the way things are.  This is the style and fighting against it will only get me a bad mark.  There are a number of complex social reasons behind the different styles we write in, and part of successful writing is knowing how to manipulate styles effectively.  When you’re preparing for your exam, make sure you are familiar with the type of styles that will appear on the test!  Check my writing tips for the CAE and the IELTS to be sure you are...

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Test your vocabulary and donate to the UN World Food Programme

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in Vocabulary |

Freerice.com seems like a simple game: you just match the word you see with a synonym.  But for every correct answer you get, the game gets harder.  When you choose an incorrect answer, the game gets easier.  The real challenge is trying to remember if the words are nouns, verbs or adjectives… it’s a lot harder than it seems!  This is a good way to practice for Part 4 of the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE). The game is run by the United Nations World Food Programme.  For every correct answer you get, you donate 10 grains of rice (an advertiser donates for you).  So practice your vocabulary and help end world...

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CAE writing style guide: review

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

Part 5 of 5, you can find the other style guides by clicking here: CAE writing style guides. This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Review Who is the audience? The audience for this question is usually an interested consumer or magazine reader. What is the purpose of the writing? You need to describe something (or some things) and give your opinion. Is it formal? No. Should I use headings or bullet points? You can use headings if you like. How should it start? You want to capture the readers’ interest.  Use a good title and an exciting opening sentence. How should it finish? Clearly state your opinion in the...

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CAE writing style guide: report

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

Part 4 of 5, you can find the other style guides by clicking here: CAE writing style guides. This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Report Who is the audience? The audience for this question is usually your boss, a professional group, a school administrator or a group of your peers. What is the purpose of the writing? You need to summarise information and make a recommendation in a concise and well-organised manner.  Your target audience usually does not have time to read all the information, so it’s important to use headings and bullet points to help them find what they want. Is it formal? Yes. Should I use headings or bullet points? Yes.  Your target audience wants to quickly find the information they need in order to make their decision. How should it start? “The aim of this report is [paraphrase the relevant information from the prompt].”  This sentence will help you get directly to the substance of the report. How should it finish? Make your...

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